Barry Callebaut announced the formal launch of its ruby chocolate variation in these two markets today, May 14. The Switzerland-based supplier launched ruby in Shanghai in September 2017, followed by other Asian markets and then Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Most recently, ruby landed in Brazil.
A small handful of US companies, including Vosges, Chocolove and Harry & David, helped Barry Callebaut ‘soft launch’ ruby over the past six months, VP of marketing TJ Mulvihill told ConfectioneryNews.
"The enthusiastic global consumer response simply validated our plan to launch ruby in North America in the spring of 2019 as the final leg of our global ruby rollout," he said.
CEO and president Peter Boone added in a release that these products enjoyed 'very strong' sales.
“As a result, to help ensure that our business partners have access to the product, we feel that now is the time to take the next step in our global roll-out campaign, and introduce ruby to the entire North American market,” he said.
FDA approval pending
Despite Barry Callebaut’s efforts to affirm ruby with a unique standard of identity, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has so far stalled.
To get around that reality, Chocolove, for example, calls its pink-hued bar ‘ruby’ as more of a brand name, followed by the words ‘cacao bean bar’ on the label. Made from sugar, cocoa butter, milk and cocoa liquor – with soy lecithin, citric acid and vanilla – Chocolove’s bar does not quite fit under the FDA’s definition for milk or white chocolate.
In March 2018, Barry Callebaut requested from the FDA a temporary marketing permit (TMP) to use the term ‘ruby chocolate,’ which the company said would aid its ability to ‘measure consumer and commercial acceptance’ in the long-game bid for a standard of identity.
How much time will pass before the FDA shares its decision is unclear because there is no mandated deadline or timetable. By Barry Callebaut’s assessment, the process can take around a year; the chocolate maker told this site it believes the FDA is ‘actively reviewing’ its TMP and could be near conclusion.
Because the agency is in the midst of modernizing its standards of identities – it recently eradicated its percentage by volume requirement for cherry pie, for instance – Barry Callebaut remains hopeful.
For now, the chocolate supplier will launch it as ‘ruby couverture,’ according to the release, or RB1 in the company’s ‘Finest Belgian Chocolate’ range.
Added Bas Smit, global VP of marketing, “Given the fact that ruby satisfies an unmet consumer need, we decided not to trademark ruby chocolate across the world, as no one should ‘own’ ruby. We aim for category growth and to have ruby accepted as the fourth type of chocolate.”
FDA statement on ruby
Asked about the status of ruby chocolate, the FDA told ConfectioneryNews that if a product does not meet a standard of identity regulation, then it cannot be named under that designation.
“We require food labeling to be truthful and not misleading and consider product labeling on a case-by-case basis,” press officer Nathan Arnold told this site. “Among other things, we consider the terms used within the context of the entire label when determining compliance with our requirements.
“The procedures for establishing a food standard are outlined in 21 CFR 130.5. Historically new standards are not created frequently – the last to be created was for white chocolate in 2002 under Sec. 163.124 White chocolate.
"The time it takes to develop a standard is dependent on the nature of the product and the level of additional review required. As part of FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy, the FDA is considering approaches to modernize the framework for standards of identity.”
Riding the 'global ruby wave'
In addition to the few ruby products already available in the US, this formal launch ‘broadly’ expands availability to other manufacturers, chefs, artisans and chocolatiers, said Barry Callebaut, noting that the US is the world’s largest chocolate and confectionery market.
The supplier will feature the artisan proposition at a private, chef-led event in Miami, Florida, on May 20. The food manufacturing product, known simply as Barry Callebaut Ruby, will play a major role at the Sweets and Snacks Expo – organized by the National Confectioners Association – in Chicago, Illinois, on May 21.
Asked when consumers might expect to see ruby readily on the shelf, Mulvihill told ConfectioneryNews, “More ruby products are expected this summer as our full customer base in North America begins to explore and experiment with the many possibilities of ruby.
“Retail brands will take some time to get ruby products to shelves; however, artisan confectioners & chefs can move much more quickly, and we will begin to see their creations appearing in shops and on menus as early as June 2019."