Blending craft and automation to make beautiful chocolate – a Beyond 150 Competition experience

Australia has a rich history in the art of chocolate making, and Siemens works closely with industry to integrate modern automation systems for a range of applications. Many of these family-owned businesses have been in operation for over a century, developing their craft and growing with the introduction of newer, more efficient production frameworks. Read more

Ferrero’s sustainability programme scaling up

Confectionary brand Ferrero has announced the achievement of their 2020 goal which sees the company sourcing 100 per cent of their cocoa sustainably. This was achieved through utilisation of certification bodies and independently managed standards such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance (UTZ).

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Mintel research shows that chocolate brand can leverage texture to dial up the indulgent experience

By Daisy Li, Associate Director, Food and Drink, Mintel

Texture is the new innovation frontier in the food and drink industry. Besides spicing up the taste experience by adding various food textures, it is also perceived to link with mood enhancement. More than half of Chinese consumers would like to try a new chocolate featuring rich texture. It is a good opportunity for chocolate brands to incorporate various textures to dial up the indulgent experience with chocolate.

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Chocolate consumption falls during COVID-19

With COVID-19 restrictions around the world limiting impulse purchasing and decreasing consumer confidence, global chocolate consumption has fallen significantly over recent months, according to a new report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report — Consumers Lose Taste for Cocoa Under COVID-19 — Rabobank said a significant proportion of chocolate demand is comprised of impulse and gift purchases made at retail shops, vending machines, airports, or while travelling.

“The instant gratification of an in-person purchase has been largely unavailable while consumers have been stuck at home and under government imposed lockdowns and this, combined with the prospect of a recession, has seen consumers more likely to shun indulgent snacks, especially those considered a luxury,” report author, London-based Rabobank commodities analyst Andrew Rawlings said.

In the US, for example, Mr Rawlings said, chocolate sales in supermarkets initially increased in April as consumers stockpiled goods, however sales for May and June showed steep month-on-month declines.

“We’ve also seen this trend play out in other regions and other commodities across the globe, with a short period of stockpiling prior to government lockdowns followed by a return to a new normal in sales,” he said.

Lower cocoa demand
The report says lower global chocolate consumption has led to a drop off in demand for cocoa grindings – the main ingredient in chocolate.

“In some regions — such as Europe — we saw processors increase cocoa grindings in quarter one, as they anticipated the potential for future plant closures during lockdowns. However, outright lower cocoa demand in the fallout of COVID-19 saw grindings in major production regions significantly lower year-on-year in quarter two,” he said.

“For this period, European grindings fell by 8.9 per cent year-on-year — the largest percentage decline in Europe since 2012 — while there were also big year-on-year falls in grindings production in North America (10.5 per cent) and in Asia (six per cent).

The report says the recession resulting from COVID-19 is expected to extend into 2020/21 and cocoa demand is unlikely to resume its growth trend until 2021/22, assuming a complete relaxation of social distancing measures. 

Downward price pressure on cocoa
Rawlings said while cocoa demand had been impacted by COVID-19, the effects of the virus on cocoa supply have been minimal, and will likely continue to be.

“The mid-crop harvest is well underway in West Africa and with no major weather issues, cocoa availability at origin should be extremely good,” he said.

“This imbalance between supply and demand will likely keep pressure on cocoa prices until availability weakens or a weather issue develops ahead of the main crop in October.”

While specific Australian chocolate consumption was not detailed in the report, Rabobank Australian-based senior analyst Michael Harvey said similar trends are expected to have been evidenced locally.

“With weaker economic conditions, consumers tend to tighten their belts and are less inclined to make discretionary purchases of some luxury food items,” he said.

“Australia’s economic slowdown over recent months is likely to have adversely impacted chocolate sales, however, the country’s relative success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 means sales may have declined less significantly than in some other regions.”

Harvey said with cocoa the principal ingredient in chocolate – along with milk and sugar – the lower demand and strong supply could spell good news for chocolate lovers, likely to keep a lid on retail price rises in the near future.

Ahrens’ latest project a sweet success

Ahrens’ latest design and construct project, Barossa Valley Chocolate Company, has proven to be a sweet success with locals and visitors to the South Australian region.

The $5.5 million-dollar facility combines a chocolaterie, retail shop, café, ice creamery and cellar door, nestled amongst mature gum trees and vineyards in the historic Barossa Valley, South Australia.

As a fellow local Barossa company, Ahrens were a winning match of experience in the region with a quality cost effective approach.

Works included the construction of a 1,375 square metre building complete with functioning chocolate producing facility, amphitheatre, cellar door, commercial kitchen, 150 seat café, retail area, point of sale areas, landscaping and a deck under the main roof overlooking a fabricated lake.

The venue offers several stunning design focal points including a chocolate waterfall, a stone fireplace, picturesque man-made lake, and a viewing window to the chocolaterie, which plans to initially produce 50 tonnes of chocolate a year.

Ahrens engaged Barossa architect, Jamie Gladigau of JBG Architects, to design the facility, continuing a long-relationship of local projects with Ahrens.

Barossa Valley Chocolate Company was the brainchild of owners Chris and Sandy Day who collaborated with Food and Beverage Australia Limited (FABAL) to see their idea come to fruition.

The venue takes inspiration from destinations around the world that have already perfected the art of pairing beautiful locally-produced chocolate with local wines.

The cellar door showcases FABAL’s Vineyard Road wines and offers paired chocolate and wine tastings.

The venue was officially opened by Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway and Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone.

Mr Ridgway said the latest attraction was ‘a fantastic addition to the Barossa Valley tourism mix’. “Appealing to children and adults alike, it is sure to bring an influx of visitors to the region,” Mr Ridgway said.

“It is a significant investment and contribution into South Australia’s visitor economy that will create jobs for locals and increase the already outstanding appeal of the Barossa Valley.”

With extensive experience in delivering facilities for the food and beverage sector across Australia, Ahrens are particularly renowned in the Barossa Valley for specialising in winery buildings and infrastructure, commercial buildings, and engineering and winery maintenance.

Our experience ensures we can deliver facilities that meet even the most stringent of food handling and processing requirements.

Macadamias aim to disrupt chocolate category

Australian Macadamias has today released findings from independent research agency, GalKal, revealing macadamias are an underutilised ingredient in the traditional chocolate and nuts pairing. As consumers constantly crave new and creative confectionery, macadamias can bring excitement and interest to commonplace product formulations.

While chocolate and nuts are an established pairing, the space is dominated by nut varieties such as peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Over 13,000 chocolate products were launched globally in the past year; more than 1,400 (11 per cent) featured hazelnuts and a further 485 (4 per cent) featured peanuts, while only 75 (0.5 per cent) products launched featured macadamias.

Be it to unwind, de-stress, uplift or re-energise, consumers around the world crave chocolate confectionery to bring a sense of indulgence and escape from the everyday. There is a global demand for new flavour and texture combinations that inject luxury and surprise into the everyday chocolate experience.

READ MORE: The macadamia challenge returns

Lynne Ziehlke, general manager, marketing for the Australian macadamia industry said, “While consumers are very familiar and comfortable with the idea of nuts in chocolate, the current pairings have become quite commonplace and expected.

“The research showed that macadamias are the ideal ingredient to disrupt the tried and trusted nut-chocolate relationship and help create more exciting, novel and unique expressions of chocolate.”

The findings also brought to light the notion of ‘permissible indulgence,’ meaning consumers seek out chocolate that justifies the indulgence they crave either because it is perceived to be high-end or contains ingredients that are healthy. However, consumers do not want to compromise by settling for products that don’t deliver on the inherent pleasure of eating chocolate.

Ziehlke adds, “We continue to see the concept of ‘health as the new form of wealth’ dominating the consumer landscape. Macadamias are recognised as a guilt-free ingredient due to their nutritional value but at the same time are recognised as a premium product that will add luxury and deliver an indulgent eating experience.”

“The distinct, rich and creamy taste and texture of macadamias means they are the ideal ingredient to inspire chocolate innovation and bring excitement to a category in need of disruption. Macadamias also have a unique ability to balance out very sweet or very savoury flavours and create a harmonious overall taste profile. This opens up a wide range of opportunities for new product formulations.”

Interviews were conducted with influencers in Germany, China and the US, followed by an online community with prosumers in Germany and the US and focus groups in China

Axieo new distributor for Puratos’ industrial chocolate products

Puratos has announced the appointment of Axieo as the distributor of industrial chocolate and compound products for the Australian and New Zealand food manufacturing sector, effective 1st September 2019.

Axieo supplies specialty and functional ingredients to its customers through relationships with partners across the globe.

Axieo’s general manager of chocolate and marketing, Chris Bolden, commented, “Puratos is the perfect chocolate and compound partner for Axieo. They source the finest cocoa ingredients, display innovation through Cacao -Trace (in -house programme for sustainably sourcing cocoa), provide efficiencies via vertical integration, and craft their products utilising traditional methods. Most importantly, Puratos understands and shares our consumers’ love of chocolate.”

Puratos offers a range of products, raw materials and expertise across a variety of applications in the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors. In their markets, Axieo will supply Puratos’ Belcolade (“the real Belgian Chocolate”), Chocolanté (chocolate), and Carat (compound chocolate).

Marco Stampfli, managing director for Puratos Australia and New Zealand said, “Puratos is delighted to commence our partnership with Axieo. With their technical expertise, best in
-class customer care, premium product portfolios and supply chain excellence, Axieo has a strong platform, network and commitment to building our chocolate business in Australia and New Zealand. We look forward to working closely with Axieo.”

New ‘beauty shake’ rich in chocolate and health benefits

Avant-Garde Wellness has launched a new product that aims to help in weight loss while still tasting great.

The Beauty Shake, contains a blend of proteins, several functional fibres and marine collagen. It contains more 10g per serve of dietary fibre blend, designed to help weight loss without feeling hungry.

It also delivers 3,500mg of marine collagen to promote skin hydration and reduce visibility of wrinkles.

It is made with the goodness of cereal fibre from oats, cacao bean extract and prebiotic acacia fibre that will keep you full for hours without having to deal with excessive calories.

It also contains marine collagen, which promotes skin beauty through positive effects on skin hydration and reducing visibility of wrinkles.

Collagen is what keeps skin elastic and it is responsible for replacing dead skin cells.

Formulated by Dr. Jaroslav Blazek, the rich chocolate shake is also good for digestive gut health.

The shake is manufactured and packed in Australia from local and imported ingredients.