Dispatches from Shanghai

Ruby chocolate a fourth category 'naturally colored' from cocoa, says Barry Callebaut CEO

Ruby chocolate has mainstream potential for big chocolate brands, says Barry Callebaut CEO. Photo: CN

Barry Callebaut claims it has created the fourth category of chocolate, adding to milk, dark and white.

Ruby chocolate is derived naturally by isolating specific compounds in cocoa beans. It gives chocolate a berry flavor and pinkish red appearance.

‘Totally new category’

Speaking to ConfectioneryNews at a launch event in Shanghai, China, Barry Callebaut CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique said: "It's a new natural color. In the same way you had a milk, dark and white color, you have a ruby color coming from the beans."

He described the taste as sharp chocolate with fruity, berry notes. "All of this coming in a natural way that creates a totally new category of chocolate."

Barry Callebaut claims it is one of the biggest innovations in chocolate since white chocolate was introduced 80 years ago.

Compounds in select cocoa beans

The company discovered how to naturally isolate color and flavor compounds of cocoa around 10 years ago when researching the cocoa bean.

"While we were searching those 20,000 compounds we stumbled onto what was the precursor of ruby...It took us a bit of time to find a way to isolate them and to process them,” said de Saint-Affrique.

"Ruby chocolate is really about certain type of beans, which contain the elements linked to that naturally color and flavor.

"…You find them in Côte D'Ivoire, Ecuador and some of them in Brazil...but you need to be very selective,” he continued.

Clean label product

The ruby precursor is present in these select beans at varying degrees. Barry Callebaut was already sourcing beans where the precursor is present.

"You need to find the specific beans and to process them in a specific way to release the color and flavor in a natural way...it's a very clean label,” said the Barry Callebaut chief.

Ruby chocolate couverture can be declared as 'cocoa mass' on ingredients lists.

Barry Calleabaut's CEO added finished goods using ruby couverture will be classed as chocolate in the EU. Barry Callebaut may push for a new standard of identity in the US due to the nation's narrow definition of chocolate.

The supplier has decided against patenting the process and is instead guarding it as a trade secret.

Ruby chocolate will be more expensive than milk and dark couverture because it is more difficult to find the beans and more complicated to produce, said de Saint-Affrique.

Commercial potential among Millennials

Barry Callebaut says ruby chocolate is likely to appeal to Millennials.

 "We started consumer testing it a few years ago in a few different countries," said de Saint-Affrique.

"I think there's enormous potential...it's a different but mainstream taste, so it's an opportunity for the big brands to do something that is very close to the core."

Barry Callebaut will today present the chocolate in Shanghai to select customers.

"You would expect it to hit the market in the next 12 months, which is the R&D lead time of our customers,” said de Saint-Affrique.

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