Research conducted in five European countries by Swiss chocolate maker, Barry Callebaut, has found more than one-in-three Europeans want their chocolate products to have health benefits.
Callebaut found that although few Europeans knew all of chocolate's potential inherent healthful properties such as improving memory (only 15.4 per cent knew this), benefiting heart and vascular health (13.8 per cent), and fighting cancerous entities (7.6 per cent), they wanted chocolate products that actively benefited health."The market potential for functional chocolate is considerable," Callebaut stated,"And there is great enthusiasm for chocolate with naturally reduced sugar levels (as long as the flavour of the chocolate is not altered). Almost four Europeans in 10 (38 per cent) are keen to have this type of chocolate, and are prepared to pay up to 10 per cent more for it."
The research — conducted in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK — found more than half of respondents thought chocolate could boost morale and 48 per cent believed it provided energy.
Callebaut noted that despite the interest in functional chocolate there were few functional products on the market with a mere 1.6 per cent of total worldwide chocolate consumption being of the functional variety.
"Chocolate is a natural, delicious and healthy product. It has a low glycaemic index and the cocoa bean contains about 230 substances that potentially have a beneficial effect on our health," said Callebaut chief innovation officer, Hans Vriens. "Nevertheless, a large number of people associate eating chocolate with feelings of guilt. At Barry Callebaut, we are working hard on that — unjustified — 'guilty feeling' with the development of 'guilt free' chocolate. This is chocolate that is every bit as delicious as standard chocolate and that offers, additionally, active health benefits."
In attempting to develop this market, Callebaut — which supplies the chocolate for one in four of the world's chocolate products — had developed a chocolate with 40 per cent reduced sugar and another with high concentrations of polyphenols.