Cocoa as a healthy ingredient in bars and beverages potential for growth

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd February 2012

Cocoa, an antioxidant-rich raw ingredient for chocolate is “set to become a major force in the market for functional and healthier food”, according to Julian Mellentin, director of UK consultancy, New Nutrition Business. His company is a leading provider of analysis and insight into the global nutrition business.

He said that cocoa was at a tipping point, as a result of scientific convergence and technological process, corporate strategy, consumer awareness and consumer desire for foods that claim to be naturally healthy.

Mr Mellentin illustrated this with health claims application article recently lodged by Swiss-based cocoa and chocolate manufacturer company, Barry Callebaut. The company is now seeking approval from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) linking cocoa flavanols with a healthy blood flow. The company is confident that the application, which has five supportive clinical studies, will succeed.

Mr Mellentin said he “is not surprised that Barry Callebaut is confident about the prospects for its health claims application. This is thanks to a huge investment in research by the leading cocoa processors – Barry Callebaut, Mars, Hershey and Meiji”. He also claimed that there is a “significant and growing body of evidence for the health benefits of cocoa flavanols, particularly in relation to cardiovascular health, with over 100 published clinical studies so far”.

In many countries, sales of dark chocolate grew at an annual rate of 20-25 percent in the first decade of the 21st century.

Mr Mellentin said that companies wishing to capitalise on cocoa’s growing ‘health halo’ would need to consider carefully which product format they used, particularly as it might be hard to convince many consumers that a simple chocolate bar is good for them.