Healy leverages cocoa shells for natural sugar reduction

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: iStock/thodonal
Pic: iStock/thodonal

Related tags sugar reduction reformulation Fibre Food waste Nutrition Gut health

Healy Group, the Ireland-based ingredient supplier, has developed a process to turn cocoa shells – an otherwise under-utilised by-product of cocoa production – into a micronised cocoa fibre that can help with sugar reduction in chocolate.

The new ingredient, PrimaFi Cocoa, is a natural, dietary fibre which, when used as a bulking agent, can replace sugar in chocolate by up to 45% with no negative sensory impact, according to the company.

The micronised cocoa fibre is primarily used to replace the bulk provided by sugar and some additional sweeteners may be required, group sales director Gareth Healy explained.

“In terms of bulking, this is a straight one-for-one swap with sugar. We have done much work to establish acceptable sweetness. However, flavour and sweetness are subjective, so we believe that each chocolate maker will be able to gauge if additional natural sweeteners need to be used. The key element with this product is replacing the bulking element of sugar that is functionally very important in chocolate making - and doing this with a natural product from cocoa,”​ he told FoodNavigator.

Fibre delivers digestive wellbeing

Healy Group’s range of micronised products are created using a unique mechanical milling method which ensures that the nutritional offering of the base ingredient is maintained during the process.

“PrimaFi Cocoa, using proprietary milling techniques, naturally reduces the typical particle size of cocoa fibre at circa 100 micron into a class of its own where the particle size is less than 20 micron,”​ Paul Sheldrake, group applications and technical director, explained.

“Micronising the natural, insoluble cocoa shell fibre makes it behave in the same manner as a soluble fibre for a smooth end product.”

Healy pointed out that the added fibre PrimaFi Cocoa provides to recipes is proven to be good for gut health. And the company is currently working to establish any additional nutritional advantages.

“PrimaFi Cocoa is, at its most basic, a dietary fibre with well documented health benefits, including digestive wellbeing. In addition to this, we are investigating the presence of phenolic compounds in our product to establish additional nutritional benefits of using PrimaFi Cocoa,”​ Healy told FoodNavigator.

Clean label and sustainable

In addition to being high in bioactive compounds, the use of cocoa shells as the raw material input means the ingredient is both clean label and sustainable.

PrimaFi Cocoa can be labelled as ‘cocoa shell powder’ or ‘cocoa fibre’, the company explained.

And by leveraging a side-stream of cocoa production Healy is helping to make cocoa production more efficient and cut food waste.

“We are proud to contribute to the reduction of food waste in an industry that has a large amount of waste in relation to cocoa shell. Our process takes this by-product and re-integrates it back into the food supply chain by adding our unique milling technology,”​ the sales manager told us.

PrimaFi Cocoa is available in light and dark powders for milk and dark chocolate products. Cocoa shell powder is fully approved by both EFSA and the FDA.

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