More than beans: Nestlé recycles cocoa fruit waste to replace sugar in chocolate

As confectionery groups scramble to cut back on added sugar, chocolate sweetened with cocoa fruit pulp is about to hit supermarket shelves with food giant Nestle ready to launch its bar. Incoa ”.

Using cocoa fruit pulp, which is normally discarded, to flavor products reduces sugar and reduces food waste while increasing the income of cocoa farmers who can ‘add value’ to their cocoa by selling both the product. pulp and beans.


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This ticks several boxes with consumers concerned about their health and the environment.

“This is a big launch, we are giving it to all customers who want it and are not limiting supplies,” Alexander von Maillot, global head of confectionery at Nestlé, told Reuters this week.

The company is launching Incoa, no added sugar, in supermarkets in France and the Netherlands with other European markets to follow.

Nestlé sources its raw materials from cocoa plantations in Brazil, but is also working with partners in West Africa to see if pulp production could work there. Von Maillot said cocoa farmers could increase their income by 20-40% if they also sell the paste.

Lamine Keita, a cocoa farmer in Duekoue, Côte d’Ivoire, said he had not yet been asked to sell cocoa fruit pulp. “If we can sell more than beans to increase our income, that’s all we can ask for because beans alone are not enough to lift us out of poverty,” he said.

Jérôme Koffi, who grows cocoa on four hectares of land in Soubre, also said he would gladly sell more, but at the moment there was only demand for beans.

Fruit pulp doesn’t come cheap – Incoa bars on Dutch retailer Albert Heijn’s website cost around 50% more than other dark chocolates. But Von Maillot said that while the cost meant the dough was unsuitable as a substitute for sugar in traditional products, there may be other uses for cocoa fruit chocolate, for example in baking.

Upcycling trend

Lindt & Spruengli and Germany’s Ritter Sport also launched limited editions of cocoa fruit chocolate which quickly sold out. Both said they plan to launch the products on a larger scale once enough cocoa fruit becomes available.

Swiss chocolate maker Felchlin’s cocoa fruit mix has found its way into macaroons and truffles, which premium chocolatier Spruengli – unrelated to Lindt – has called “world first”.

Lindt and Felchlin source their cocoa fruit pulp from Swiss-Ghanaian start-up Koa, which uses solar mobile units to process fresh pulp from 1,600 smallholder farmers. Koa is capable of handling 250 tonnes per year, but wants to increase its capacity tenfold over the next two years.

Industry leader Barry Callebaut, meanwhile, is preparing to supply his WholeFruit chocolate to chefs and artisans. It has also set up a dedicated brand, Cabosse Naturals, to sell cocoa fruit ingredients to customers like Mondelez International for use in fruity snacks.

The Upcycled Food Association has said that marketing cocoa fruit around the world could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 million tonnes per year. He defines “upcycling” as the use of food ingredients that humans would not consume, with verifiable supply chains and a positive environmental impact.

Brigette Wolf, manager of Mondelez’s SnackFutures, said upcycling attracts those who want to “make an impact” with their food choices.

The company plans to release three varieties of CaPao Cacaofruit fruit bites this year, in more than 2,000 stores by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

African tastes

Commodity specialist Tedd George said extracting additional value from the crop could boost the cocoa sector in West Africa, as current incentives were only focused on growing and selling more. beans.

“There is an opportunity for new cocoa fruit products to also be health products and that is a game changer for the value you can get from them,” he said, citing the benefits for them. health associated with dark chocolate.

Nestlé has repositioned itself as a health and wellness company, reducing sugar in its products, and has also set sustainability targets, including for cocoa.

George said launching cocoa products did not address fundamental issues such as child labor or deforestation, but could fuel investments and drive change in cocoa-growing communities.

He said companies should also develop cocoa products for African tastes. “If there was also a local demand for cocoa, it would increase the pricing power of farmers.”

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