Greetings from the International Sweets & Biscuits Fair (ISM) in Cologne, Germany. We had a dusting of snow last night, a symbolic sign of solidarity for all those in the Midwest and other areas who are enduring a Groundhog Day Blizzard.
As usual, ISM continues to be a wonderful global confectionery smorgasbord, with producers from all over the world. It´s always a treat to meet familiar faces, even if only once a year, as well as new entrepreneurs, chocolatiers, candymakers and suppliers committed to enhancing the sweet experience.
This year, the world´s largest cocoa and chocolate processing supplier, Barry Callebaut, introduced a “revolutionary” cocoa cultivation method that results in cocoa beans with virtually zero defects or off-flavors.
Dubbed Terra Cacao, this new line combines selective stock breeding with a new advanced method that involves adding ferment cultures to bring out the best characteristics of a bean during the fermentation process and drying.
Five years in development, the fermentation process takes advantage of inherent characteristics in the bean and maximizes their potential. As Hans Vriens, chief innovation officer explained, this breakthrough opens up enormous possibilities in not only guaranteeing superior quality and consistency, but also in crafting specific cultures to extract specific parameters, be they less sugar, more flavor and/or less fat.
This breakthrough takes on even more significance, Vriens said, because of the increased demand for cocoa, which he estimates will jump by one million tons during the next 10 years. He cited five key trends at the press conference that will have an impact on this demand.
First, indulgence will continue to be a driving force for chocolate consumption.
“Consumers will still shell out money for a better-than-average product,” he asserted.
At the same time, everyone will have to deal with being cost-conscious, particularly chocolate manufacturers. Given that the cocoa price has virtually doubled during the past few years, today´s existing environment suggests one can expect more of the same during the coming years.
As a result, ensuring a sustainable cocoa supply, the third trend, takes on even greater importance. Sustainability not only ensures a renewable crop, it brings consumers closer to the source, helping them understand where and how cocoa is harvested and processed.
A better understanding about cocoa is paramount to resisting regulatory pressure, which is sure to increase during the coming years, Vries added.
“According to the World Health Organization, more people will die from obesity in 2023 than from smoking,” he said. In the eyes of many, sweets contribute to the growth of obesity, although that isn´t the case, Vries emphasized.
As a result, consumers will look for more permissible chocolate, chocolate that contains less fat, less sugar, but also offers more flavanols, more probiotics, he said.
The introduction of a new fermentation technique, one that virtually eliminates defects and allows bean profile manipulation, promises to address many of these trends.
To dramatize the power of the new process, journalists were given a small black jewelry box containing one Terra Cacao bean. It symbolized what Vries believes will be a new beginning for farmers, processors, manufacturers and consumers involved in cocoa.
If so, it could be a match made in heaven.