getting fresh: Splitting Cocoa Beans, Part 2
Regular readers of Sweet & Healthy are probably wondering why my plain mug is showing up where Deborah Cassell’s more photogenic image should be. Typically Debbie and I rotate writing a column each week, and this should be her turn.
But no worries, Cassell fans, she’ll be back next week. Debbie simply agreed to switch with me this week because I wanted to include comments received from a few readers about the chocolatier/chocolate maker definition I posed last week.
For those of you who don’t recall, I had included a brief blurb in our eNewsletter about an upcoming event being hosted by www.dallaschocolate.org. In doing so, I referred to Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate (www.Patric-Chocolate.com) and Steve DeVries of DeVries Chocolate (www.devrieschocolate.com as chocolatiers.
In a subsequent e-mail McClure sent me, he pointed that both he and DeVries preferred being called “chocolate makers,” noting that there is a significant difference. He cited two Web sites, www.craftchocolatemakers.org– the Craft Chocolate Makers of America (CCMA) – and www.finechocolateindustry.org. – the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) – where definitions are provided.
In my column last week, I suggested that "a chocolate maker is one who sources cocoa beans and then uses traditional techniques such as roasting, winnowing, mixing and conching to produce chocolate in micro-batches," thus agreeing to the distinction.
Clay Gordon, a widely known chocolate critic and authoer (www.thechocolatelife.com), took issue with my statement.
As he noted, “If your definition were the case, companies like ADM, Cargill, Blommer, Guittard, and more could not be called chocolate makers because they don't produce chocolate in micro-batches, they use industrial-scale continuous processing techniques. Which, as I am sure you'd agree, is nonsense.
“A good generalization for chocolate maker is ‘... a person or company that transforms cocoa beans and/or chocolate liquor into a finished, edible form for direct consumption or further processing,’” he added.
“Once we get past that general description we start with the modifiers,” he continued. “Micro-batch refers to the weight of beans and/or chocolate produced in an individual production run. There is no agreed-upon definition for micro-batch but it's generally 50kg or less, often as little as 2.5kg.”
I e-mailed Gordon saying that I welcomed his comments – he also provided me with several examples of industry variations that complicate the scenario, but I’ll share that at some later point in time – and indicated I would mull over the definition a bit more.
In the interim, I forwarded Gordon’s comments to McClure to get his point of view.
Graciously, McClure replied, clarifying the chocolate maker term by breaking out the definition into three categories: craft chocolate maker; chocolate manufacturer and from-chocolate-liquor chocolate maker/manufacturer.
That last one is a bit bulky to say and write, and I might suggest cocoa mass chocolate maker/manufacturer as an alternative, simply because it’s shorter.
But more importantly, McClure brought up two additional points. First, these “categorizations are not mutually exclusive. One can be more than one of them at a time, even if it is rare, especially with smaller companies.”
And second, “None of these definitions carry any sort of qualitative distinction, i.e. there is no comment at all related to the quality of chocolate or chocolate products that they are creating,” he said. As McClure points out, he does not intend to pass judgment on quality, having “tasted delicious chocolate from all sizes of companies and would never try to deny that.”
Again, I’m with McClure on that issue.
Pierrick Chouard of Vintage Plantations (www.vintageplantations.com) also weighed in on the matter, saying that there are “endless ways to dissect the industry” and suggesting that we let “the consumer be dictated by his palate.”
And while I doubt anyone would disagree with Chouard on that, I further believe that it’s important to engage in discussions related to the chocolate renaissance we’re experiencing and how best to help the consumer understand all of the wonderful nuances involved in sourcing, processing and experiencing good chocolate.
Thus, I welcome any additional comments from chocolatiers, craft chocolate makers, chocolate manufacturers and consumers on the subject. In the end, to steal a slogan from clothing chain SYMS, “An educated consumer is our best customer.”
Report cites growth of healthy, premium confections through 2012
The recently released “Innovations in Confectionery: Key trends, growth opportunities and emerging markets” report from Dublin-based Research and Markets pinpoints continued opportunities for manufacturers in the healthy and premium confectionery segments.
One of the report’s key findings states that the “upscale” product tag became the leading descriptive for new confectionery products launched in 2008, rising from 9% in 2005 to 13.8% in 2008. It also foresees cereal bars as the fastest growing category in Europe, soaring at a 31.7% rate to 2012.
Organic new product introductions also have climbed, rising from just 1.2% in 2005 to 4% in 2008. Moreover, products claiming ethical attributes have risen significantly, the report says.
For more information, visit www.researchandmarkets.com.
Mars brings Real Chocolate Relief to cities in need
Mars Snackfood US is bringing its Real Chocolate Relief Act to the city America deems in most need of sweet relief. Through Aug. 31, visitors can log onto www.realchocolate.com to cast their vote for one of nearly 350 cities they think worthy of a Free Chocolate Friday. The winning city will receive thousands of free, full-size Mars chocolate products – including M&M’S, SNICKERS, MILKY WAY, DOVE Chocolate and 3 MUSKETEERS – handed out by NASCAR’s Kyle Busch, who drives the No. 18 M&M’S car.
For more information, visit www.mars.com.
Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars now sport Fairtrade logo in UK
As promised, Cadbury launched its new Fairtrade Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars earlier this week, bringing awareness of the Fairtrade movement to millions of British homes for the first time via the Fairtrade logo on the bar’s packaging.
Created in the Netherlands in late 1980s, Fairtrade labeling is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable development that creates opportunities for producers and workers who have been economically disadvantaged or marginalized by the conventional trading system.
“Having announced our intention to achieve Fairtrade certification for our flagship brand, Cadbury Dairy Milk, only a few months ago, it is exciting that these bars are now rolling off the production lines in Bournville [Britain],” says Trevor Bond, managing director of Cadbury Britain and Ireland.
“This creates a tipping point for Fairtrade with Fairtrade Cadbury Dairy Milk bars available to all, with the same great taste and at no extra cost,” he continues. “I’ve seen the new bars and I feel enormous pride that we are the first mainstream confectionery product in the UK to display the Fairtrade Mark.”
The new packaging for the Fairtrade Cadbury Dairy Milk bars also features the London 2012 Olympics logo, reflecting the company’s sponsorship of the Games.
BestSweet offers Baskin-Robbins customers free hard candy
BestSweet, Inc. of Mooresville, N.C., has announced the launch of free Baskin-Robbins Smooth & Creamy Cookies N’ Cream Hard Candy samplings at participating Baskin-Robbins locations throughout the United States. The retail chain will offer free candy to customers starting Oct. 2, while supplies last. The promotion is in celebration of the recent launch of the new, smoother shaped product, which features a natural swirl appearance and offers the flavor and textures of Baskin-Robbins ice cream.
sweet of the week: Tasty Brand Organic Fruit Snacks
Baby food manufacturer Tasty Brand, Inc. of Malibu, Calif., is expanding its offerings to other age groups with the introduction of new Tasty Brand Organic Fruit Snacks in strawberry, peach, tangerine, lemon, tropical and mixed berry flavors. The new product is free from high-fructose corn syrup, gluten and fat, as well as artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Each serving contains 100% of a child’s recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C. The suggested retail price is $4.99 per 4-oz. bag and $2.79 per 2.75-oz. bag.
For more information, visit www.tastybrand.com. Retailers interested in carrying the product can call 1-866-588-8278.