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Cocoa butter equivalents and sustainable speciality fats and oils
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CBE and specialty fats and oils emerge as the sustainable choice for chocolate and confectionery

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Fats and oils play a crucial role in the confectionery industry, impacting the texture, flavour, shelf life and overall quality of products across a range of applications.

They contribute to the creamy, smooth texture that consumers expect in products such as chocolates and other confections, and deliver an even distribution of flavour which enhances the overall taste and enjoyment.

Their functionality is pivotal in extending the shelf life and stability of confectionery products by maintaining their texture over time and preventing them from drying out. They also influence the melting properties and mouthfeel.

Every confectionery application, from chocolate to biscuits and wafers, requires a different fat with varied characteristics in order to achieve the desired nutritional profile and consistency. Speciality fats and oils, including cocoa butter equivalents (CBE), are designed to enhance specific product attributes, such as texture, flavour and stability.

Innovation in this area has also been targeted to address health trends, with options including reduced trans fats and sustainably sourced ingredients, aligning with consumer demand for healthier and more environmentally friendly goods.

Cocoa butter equivalents

CBE is a group of exotic fats that can be used as substitutes for cocoa butter across various chocolate products and confectionery applications. These equivalents are derived from different exotic fats, such as sal, mango and shea butter, and can be used in end applications without significantly changing the texture, flavour or melting properties of the finished product.

In 2023, the global CBE market was valued at approximately $1.18 billion and is projected to grow to $2.03 billion by 2032.1​ This growth can be attributed to the rising consumption of chocolate products, as well as ongoing challenges with the supply of cocoa butter. While cocoa butter is popular due to its unique flavour and smooth texture, its production is limited by the availability of cocoa beans, which are prone to supply chain disruptions caused by environmental factors, such as climate.

CBEs can provide a more stable and reliable supply chain, mitigating the risks associated with cocoa butter. CBEs are highly versatile and are formulated to replicate the desirable properties of cocoa butter, such as texture, melting behaviour and stability, making them suitable for high-quality chocolate products. Additionally, CBEs can be customised by blending different fat fractions, allowing manufacturers to tailor the functional characteristics to specific product requirements.

Sustainable initiatives in CBE, fats and oils

Increasingly, consumers are supporting businesses that prioritise social and environmental responsibility and this is putting growing pressure on companies to reduce their environmental impact. Sustainable initiatives and transparent practices across supply chains are fast becoming a requirement to operate and companies who are built to meet this will have a competitive edge.

The confectionery industry is no different, and consumers are showing a preference for brands that prioritise fair trade practices and support farmers and local communities where ingredients are grown.

Manorama Industries Limited is a global supplier of specialty fats and oils, including CBEs, and is renowned for its sustainable co-development in the confectionery industry. It sources raw materials exclusively from local communities in India and Western Africa, demonstrating its commitment to organic and sustainable practices.

Sustainability concerns around potential deforestation caused by the cultivation of certain oils is high on consumer agenda, as is the use of pesticides and fertiliser and intensive water usage. By sourcing exclusively from tree borne seeds, Manorama maintains control over the production process and ensures a steady supply of first-class ingredients. Its use of CBEs helps to preserve natural resources by decreasing reliance on traditional oils that may contribute to issues like deforestation.

This integrated approach also allows the company to guarantee the origin and quality of its products. Its access to multiple exotic fat sources ensures that any shortfall in one type can be compensated by another, providing uninterrupted service to customers. Manorama can therefore provide transparency and traceability throughout its supply chains, helping to engender consumer trust and confidence.

Another key challenge for confectionery manufacturers is market volatility, resulting in price fluctuations that can severely impact production costs. This can be influenced by many factors, including weather conditions, political landscapes and global demand, which can cause spikes and push up costs.

Cocoa prices, for example, are susceptible to fluctuations in global demand and supply. Climate-related issues can impact crop yields, which can disrupt supply chains, affecting availability, and this creates price volatility. CBEs are therefore emerging as an ideal solution for manufacturers to meet the growing demand for confectionery products.

Stability in flavour and supply

CBEs behave like cocoa butter in all respects, without altering the melting rheological and processing characteristics of cocoa butter, making CBEs a more economical option. Thanks to its access to CBEs and specialty fats and oils, Manorama can help global manufacturers mitigate the impact of price fluctuations and supply chain disruptions.

Manorama produces a variety of specialty fats and oils, including sal, mango and kokum butter, and is a key player in the global shea butter market. Offering the same melting profile and mouthfeel as traditional cocoa butter, these fats are integral in creating a variety of chocolate products.

Beyond chocolates, Manorama’s specialty fats derived from these plant-based tree borne sources are widely used in bakery shortenings, filling fats for chocolates and fine bakery, and coatings for bakery products, enhancing texture and stability while meeting high-quality standards.

“Manorama Industries Ltd has access to all types of exotic fats including those that are used for CBE formulations, and we are proud to work with smaller customers all the way through to multinationals,” says Dr. Krishnadath Bhaggan, Vice president R&D and QA, Manorama Industries Limited. “We are witnessing huge demand and market growth in the area of specialty fats and CBEs.”

Unlike traditional oils, which often rely on single sources like palm oil, Manorama’s CBEs use a blend of exotic fats including tree borne sal, shea, and mango. This blend not only replicates the desirable characteristics of cocoa butter but also ensures a consistent supply chain. The ability to switch between different exotic fats allows Manorama to maintain product quality and availability even in the face of supply disruptions caused by fluctuations in crops yields caused by climate change.

For example, one of Manorama’s premium products, MILCOA ES70 uses sal fat to produce a CBE with a melting range reflective of cocoa butter. MILCOA ES70 maintains excellent flavour stability while retaining the natural colour of chocolate, making it ideal for maintaining high-end chocolate quality.

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Using mango fat, MILCOA ES70M is made for premium chocolate applications, boasting a perfect melting profile and compelling flavour release. The mango fat used in this CBE ensures that chocolates maintain their desired texture and taste under various conditions.

Utilizing the properties of shea fat, MILCOA ES70S’ fatty acid composition and triglyceride structure improves bloom stability and extends the shelf life of chocolate products. It maintains flavour stability while retaining the natural colour of chocolate, making it ideal for creating premium quality chocolate.

For manufacturers looking to enhance product consistency, ease of supply and profitability, partnering with Manorama Industries Ltd. could be the first move toward market success.

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1. ​Straits Research. Cocoa Butter Equivalent (CBE) Market.