London Chocolate, the newly launched bean-to-bar brand, arrives at the Chocoa Conference in Amsterdam today on the back of winning a bronze at this year’s International Chocolate Awards.
Founder of London Chocolate, Alex Heeley, told ConfectioneryNews that Europe is finally ripe for an explosion of bean-to-bar chocolate: “We have been slow to react to the craft revolution, but we are steadily now seeing the same trends for craft beer and wine taking a big hold in confectionery. The market in the USA is already pretty well developed, but this year, we are seeing much more demand particularly in the metropolitan cities across Europe.”
Specialist shops and ‘chocoisseurs'
Speaking at this month’s Chocoa event in Amsterdam, where the company is attending alongside other bean-to-bar makers. He added: “Go to any major food event in Europe now and the bean-to-bar companies are growing extremely quickly. Chocoa itself is testament to the trend and over the next few years you will see a rise of specialist shops and the ‘chocoisseurs’ that really redefine how we consume chocolate. In five years’ time I think it will be fairly normal to pay a premium price for an extra special bar for the weekends.”
London Chocolate was founded last year in the heart of the city’s Canary Wharf district, an area synonymous with merchant trade from exotic locations – cacao and sugar have been arriving at the docks since 1802.
Heeley said the company’s beans are sourced ethically from individual plantations and it donates 5% of profits to sustainable charities.
Ahead of Chocoa, Heeley told Confectionery News that the challenge up until now has been that consumers in Europe – and the UK – have found it hard to differentiate between, ‘premium chocolate’, ‘hand-made chocolate’ and ‘bean-to-bar’.
“This is where we may see groups collaborate to establish standards. The bean-to-bar community is very inclusive and I think it’s quite likely we will begin to fight together against the often misleading packaging on some of bigger brands masquerading as ‘bean-to-bar’.
“Ultimately, however, the consumer will take over the responsibility and will be the market’s biggest advocate. Just like in wines, consumers will look for specific flavor notes, fruits and origins…. I personally have a preference for citrus chocolate.”