Barry Callebaut uses coconut sugar to revive organic chocolate sales

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Niu chocolate is made with 65% cocoa.  Pic: Barry Callebaut
Niu chocolate is made with 65% cocoa. Pic: Barry Callebaut
Barry Callebaut has launched a 65% dark chocolate under its gourmet and organic chocolate brand, Van Leer, using coconut sugar.

Called Niu, the product offers a “strong cocoa flavor to balance the coconut,”​ and it is ideal for “molding and enrobing, and can be used in other applications,”​ said the company.

“Niu was developed by our R&D team in St. Hyacinthe, Canada,”​ said Andrew Gioia, customer marketing and domestic brands manager at Barry Callebaut.

Gioia said there is a “healthy halo around coconut sugar… One of the claims of coconut sugar is that it is low on the glycemic index, which ranks carbohydrate foods on the basis of how they affect blood sugar.”

Not affecting FDA labeling

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year proposed to extend the compliance dates for the nutrition facts label to Jan. 1, 2020, for big manufacturers, and an additional year for small companies to comply.

While the new label requires food companies to include “added sugar,”​ Gioia said there would not be any additional change in how sugar is labeled on products using Niu chocolate.

“Customers would be able to call out that their chocolate is made with coconut sugar which will catch the eye of the health conscious consumer,”​ he said.

Alternative sugar on the rise

Van Leer currently accounts for 20% of Barry Callebaut’s gourmet chocolate sales, said Gioia. However, the brand’s performance fell flat from 2016 to 2017, and company hopes that its newly-launched Niu chocolate could turn the situation around.

“We were hoping to build on the trend of alternative sugars while also filling the demand for organic chocolate. We have ‘no sugar added’ and ‘sugar-free’ products, but I think the demand for alternative sugars is only going to expand,”​ Gioia said.

Barry Callebaut is also developing a product that is expected to reduce sugar by 25% for its Tulsa dark chocolate.

“[Van Leer] anticipates 6% year-over-year growth in 2018 which would bring our revenue as a brand over $13m,”​ said Gioia.

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