New milk chocolate bar uses AI to reduce sugar without losing taste
With HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) regulations coming into effect in the UK at the beginning of this month that affects both physical and online promotion on certain items, followed by TV and online advertising restrictions from the start of 2023, the confectionery industry will be looking closely at Valio's ‘The Bar’.
The Helsinki-based company behind the concept helps manufacturers in the industry to make healthier products with less sugar and natural ingredients, without compromising the familiar taste.
The Bar’s milk chocolate has 30% less sugar than regular milk chocolate, which was achieved by using the company’s milk powder solution in the recipe. The solution enables natural sugar reduction in any milk chocolate product and this way ‘can revolutionize the confectionery industry’.
“Growing awareness of the importance of health is on people’s lips, and so is milk chocolate that people want to enjoy with good conscience,” Valio says at the launch earlier today.
With the power of AI it has designed a bar of ‘future-proofed milk chocolate’ together with chocolate artisans. The Bar combines all the changing preferences of people’s cravings while also having less sugar. This was made possible by the dairy company’s unique milk powder solution.
The future of milk chocolate
Valio created the futuristic concept together with local chocolate artists of Kultasuklaa company, meaning that Valio itself has not switched to chocolate manufacturing. The Bar is a proof of concept of what the dairy company's milk powder solution can do and what the future of milk chocolate could look like.
“The needs and preferences of global milk chocolate fans are changing. Growing awareness of health challenges affect the confectionery industry with governments around the world already starting to regulate sugar use and consumption. With our Valio Bettersweet solution the taste remains the same even though the amount of sugar is reduced,” says Timo Pajari, Valio’s Senior Vice President.
Last spring, the company analysed with AI over 1.5 million public milk chocolate-related social media discussions around the world and surveyed hundreds of people about their preferences regarding chocolate. The AI analysis was produced by the Finnish company Aiwo Digital in cooperation with Valio’s consumer insight team.
“We wanted to unravel the most delicious and hidden desires of milk chocolate fans. By connecting the capabilities of AI, human craftsmanship and design with our milk powder know-how we were able to create the chocolate of the future. Observing and curating conversations on social media enabled us to draw conclusions of authentic consumer preferences,” says Pajari.
Valio’s results showed silent signals and emerging milk chocolate trends with two main conclusions. First, there is no single favourite chocolate taste, filling, or size as consumers want to enjoy different kinds of milk chocolate in different situations. Second, people want to indulge in milk chocolate with good conscience. The taste and sweetness are very important but at the same time consumers want milk chocolate to be healthier and natural with less sugar.
A healthier dream
The recipe for a healthier dream chocolate was based on AI’s findings: five different chocolates with less sugar. Each chocolate has a different taste and texture designed to fit a different use case: impulse, craving, delight, hunger and relaxation.
From bite to bite new sensations get discovered and gradually build upon each other. The topographic design of the bar designed by professional designers allows the layers to be easily separated for enjoyment at ‘a suitable time’.
“The Bar’s chocolate flavours form a new kind of alternative to the traditional chocolate box, where different chocolate flavours are combined together instead of separated. Each layer of milk chocolate is made for different situations in life. In addition to plain milk chocolate flavour the other layers are enhanced with nuts and cookie crumbs," Pajari says.