Melt-resistant chocolate to beat the stains
Tired of confectionery bars dissolving in your pockets or hands? The world's largest chocolate maker has designed a melt-resistant solution to the sticky problem.
The innovative "Vulcano" chocolate from Swiss firm Barry Callebaut melts at 55 degrees Celsius compared with the normal 37 degrees – or body temperature. It is also infused with air bubbles to reduce the calorie count.
Barry Callebaut has found a way of tweaking cocoa butter to make it more resistant to heat, and in addition uses less of the melt-inducing ingredient to make the Vulcano product.
The company hopes its new chocolate will appeal both to figure-conscious consumers and to confectionery makers drawn to its practical qualities.
Although Vulcano has not been designed with any specific geographical market in mind, the firm believes its firmness under heat pressure will go down well in hotter climes.
"The heat resistance is an attractive quality in hot countries where the logistics and cooling chains are not perfect or the product risks melting on the shelves to no longer look appetising," Barry Callebaut spokeswoman Gaby Tschofen told swissinfo.ch.
"It could be used as a filling and for biscuits but it can also be moulded. We have a milk chocolate version, a dark one, a white one and fruit flavours. They are all natural with no artificial ingredients," she added.
Have chocolate, will travel
Barry Callebaut is currently presenting Vulcano to industrial partners, but consumers will probably have to wait another two years before the final products hit the shelves.
Switzerland is no stranger to innovative chocolate products that are practically a national symbol along with mountains and cheese.
Jochen Binder from the Institute of Marketing at St Gallen University also believes the new chocolate could prove a hit.
"The selling point of any new product is always the additional value it brings for the customer," he told swissinfo.ch.
"It does appear to have convenience value in that it doesn't melt so easily in your pocket or hand. This would be useful when you are travelling, particularly in hotter countries."
Any extra value the new chocolate may bring to confectioners will depend on how they choose to market their new products made with Vulcano, Binder added.
One example might be to highlight the different sensation the chocolate would have in consumers' mouths as it takes longer to melt.
"It may appeal to consumers known as 'first adopters' who like to try new things and get additional value from being able to explore something new," he said. "This might take off at first for the novelty value, but it would then become normal."
Zurich-based Barry Callebaut, the biggest manufacturer of chocolate in the world, posted a 66 per cent rise in net profits last year of SFr205 million ($190 million). The company supplies cocoa and chocolate products for companies such as Cadbury and Nestlé.
Matthew Allen, swissinfo.ch
The Swiss chocolate industry has set a new record for the fifth year in a row. Sales rose equally at home and abroad in 2008, according to Chocosuisse, the association representing Swiss chocolate manufacturers.
The 18 producers saw sales increase by two per cent on 2007 to 184,969 tons, with turnover improving by 9.3 per cent to SFr1.818 billion ($1.56 billion). More than 60 per cent of all the chocolate produced was exported.
Germany led the way, accounting for 14.8 per cent of all turnover from exports, followed closely by Britain (13.3 per cent). France (9.6 per cent) and the United States (7.4 per cent) were the third and fourth most important export destinations respectively.
The record amount sold was the equivalent of 12.4kg of chocolate for each Swiss resident, an increase of 100g, or one bar.
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