Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Barry Callebaut introduces Ruby chocolate for Belgian artisan chocolatiers, pastry chefs

March 10th, 2018

Global introduction of Callebaut RB1 will be gradual, company says.

Barry Callebaut has developed a Ruby chocolate product under its Callebaut brand for artisan chocolatiers and pastry chefs.
Billed as the fourth variety of chocolate after milk, dark and white, the Ruby chocolate product — Callebaut RB1 — will be available in Belgium in April. Availability in other countries will follow, but Barry Callebaut did not specify a timeline.
In celebration of the imminent Belgian launch, a handful of chocolatiers got a sneak preview today of Callebaut RB1, which sold out immediately. Products made with RB1 will be available at the Salon du Chocolat, set for March 2-4 in Brussels.
“Without exaggerating: Ruby is the most exciting thing to happen in the chocolate industry in decades,” said master chocolatier Marijn Coertjens said. “With ruby, you need to unlearn what you would traditionally do with dark, milk or white chocolate. This chocolate opens up a host of new ideas.”
Research shows that Ruby chocolate resonates strongly with a new generation of consumers — mainly Millennials (18–35 years old) who balance a healthy lifestyle with the quest for extreme pleasure.
“With ruby chocolate you haven’t seen anything yet,” says Mathieu Brunfaut, global group brand leader, Callebaut. “Its salient colour and unique taste profile calls for new pairing options in both sweet and savoury delights. Now, offering ruby chocolate to artisans and chefs will unleash a wave of creativity that will lead to exciting new products and concepts for people to enjoy.”
Discovered more than a decade ago, Ruby chocolate was the work of Barry Callebaut’s global R&D centers in Belgium and France and the Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. Researchers found Ruby chocolate was linked to precursors in a specific type of bean — the Ruby cocoa bean.
RB1 owes its color and taste solely to the expert selection and meticulous processing of the Ruby beans — no fruit flavoring or colorants are added to the chocolate. For every bag of RB1, Callebaut sources sustainably grown beans and supports cocoa farmers in cocoa farming communities.
In January, Nestlé Japan launched the limited-edition KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby, the world’s first item made with Ruby chocolate. Nestlé said 5,000 bars were available in South Korea and Japan, where KitKat flavor innovation is at its peak.

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Barry Callebaut partnership produces high-flavanol chocolate

February 24th, 2018
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Barry Callebaut has revealed a partnership with FlavaNaturals to produce chocolate containing high levels of cocoa flavanol in the US.

The announcement follows three years of collaboration on the development of FlavaBars, a line of chocolate containing five times the cocoa flavanol content of a typical dark chocolate bar.

FlavaBars are said to leverage over a decade of development by Barry Callebaut on high-flavanol chocolate. The company said that although flavanols are naturally occurring in cocoa beans, they are significantly reduced during the traditional chocolate production process. Requiring no additives or fortification, this chocolate retains flavanols through “optimised cocoa sourcing and processing”.

Peter Boone, CEO of Barry Callebaut Americas, said: “Consumers today are constantly trying to achieve balance in their diet. Our proprietary sourcing and processing methods allow us to better preserve the naturally existing flavanols in cocoa. Working with FlavaNaturals, we are able to provide a new chocolate experience for US consumers.”

FlavaNaturals CEO Alan Frost added: “FlavaNaturals is proud to partner with Barry Callebaut, a world leader in cocoa innovation and sustainability. Our ultimate vision is to change the way people think about consuming chocolate. Chocolate may have been your weakness, but with FlavaBar, it becomes your strength.”

The bars which are available in six flavours – roasted almond, Himalayan pink salt, blueberry and green tea matcha, pure cocoa nibs, espresso ground coffee, and crystallised ginger – are now sold online, with expansion to retail planned in spring 2018.

Source: FoodBev


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Barry Callebaut introduces sensory language

February 3rd, 2018
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Unraveling the taste of chocolate

  • Inspired by wine, coffee and craft beer categories, Barry Callebaut introduces a sensory language and tasting ritual for chocolate
  • The chocolate sensory language is based on the new book ‘Hidden Persuaders in Cocoa and Chocolate’, written by scientists from Barry Callebaut and Givaudan, the leading global flavor house
  • The chocolate sensory language and tasting ritual enable brands and artisans to help consumers appreciate chocolate even more than they do today

Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, today introduced a sensory language and tasting ritual that will help chocolate professionals and consumers to understand and express the richness of chocolate taste. Cocoa and chocolate sensory scientists from Barry Callebaut and the leading global flavor house Givaudan did extensive research to develop a chocolate sensory language and tasting ritual, inspired by what has already been created for wine, coffee and craft beer categories. The chocolate sensory language finds its foundation in the book ‘Hidden Persuaders in Cocoa and Chocolate. A Flavor Lexicon for Cocoa and Chocolate Sensory Professionals’ presented today at the ISM fair in Cologne.

Satisfying consumer curiosity about chocolate

Pablo Perversi, Chief Innovation, Quality & Sustainability Officer of the Barry Callebaut Group said: “More and more consumers, and especially millennial foodies, share their experiences on social media. They are increasingly curious about food and taste. But while wine, coffee and craft beer could already be tasted, described and discussed in a rigorous and professional way, we lacked a language that did justice to the richness and complexity of chocolate experiences. Containing over 20,000 identifiable chemical compounds, cocoa is one of the most complex foodstuffs on earth. The sensory language that we have developed for chocolate, will allow consumers to share their passion for a specific chocolate taste much more accurately”.

Barry Callebaut developed the Consumer Chocolate Sensory Wheel with 87 descriptors, covering the flavor, texture and aroma of chocolate.

Barry Callebaut developed the Consumer Chocolate Sensory Wheel with 87 descriptors, covering the flavor, texture and aroma of chocolate.

Pairing cocoa and chocolate sensory research with consumer understanding, Barry Callebaut developed the Consumer Chocolate Sensory Wheel with 87 descriptors, covering the flavor, texture and aroma of chocolate. A Chocolate Tasting Ritual requires the five senses – sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste – and enables chocolate professionals and consumers to discover new dimensions of chocolate experience and appreciate chocolate even more.

The science behind the unraveling of the taste of chocolate

The book ‘Hidden Persuaders in Cocoa and Chocolate. A Flavor Lexicon for Cocoa and Chocolate Sensory Professionals’ is the first science-based publication on how to create a sensory language for the chocolate industry. Cocoa and chocolate sensory scientists worked for two years on this chocolate language. The book features molecular insights into the compounds related to each flavor you can find in chocolate and contains a science-based categorization of taste, various aromas, as well as trigeminal sensations – such as the coolness of mint or the tingling of sparkling water –  and atypical flavors.

Renata Januszewska, author of the book and Global R&D Sensory Methodologies Manager at Barry Callebaut, said:  “The book’s ambition is to help switching from an often ‘subconscious/emotional’ to a more ‘conscious/analytical’ approach in the complex world of cocoa and chocolate. Having a shared language will not only enable brands to discuss their chocolate with consumers and describe its uniqueness to them, it will also offer them the means to come up with even better tasting experiences and new taste and food pairing combinations.



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Nestlé brings premium artisan chocolate brand to UK market

February 3rd, 2018
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Swiss confectioner Nestlé plans to introduce its leading premium chocolate brand, Les Recettes De L’Atelier, to the UK following impressive growth across Europe. Although the high-end chocolate brand may not yet be familiar to the British market, supplies have just started via Sainsbury’s with stores stocking a range of smooth Swiss chocolate blocks with natural fruit pieces.

The brand, which roughly translates as “recipes of the artisan’s shop” is exclusive to the retailer in the UK and will be available in seven different flavors including: Raisins, Almonds and Hazelnuts; Orange Zest & Cacao Nibs; Whole Roasted Almonds & Hazelnuts; Salted Caramel; Roasted Almonds; Blueberries, Almonds & Hazelnuts; and Cranberries, Almonds & Hazelnuts.

The way the product is made, with fruit and nut inclusions clearly visible once unwrapped gives the chocolate a handmade, artisanal feel and means that each and every square of the chocolate is completely unique, according to Nestlé.

Premium chocolate is one of the fastest growing areas in confectionery and, until now, has been a gap in what we offer here in the UK,” says Alex Gonnella, Marketing Director for Nestlé’s UK confectionery business.

“What has already been achieved with Les Recettes De L’Atelier is very impressive, it’s a brilliant, luxury product and the reception we’ve seen from our colleagues here at Nestlé alone tells me that it will be very well received.”

“People, quite rightly, expect us to develop new, innovative and exciting confectionery, we’ve been doing it for more than a century, and Les Recettes De L’Atelier is a key part of our plans to keep our portfolio fresh and give confectionery fans exactly what they are looking for.”

Originally launched in Switzerland and France in 2014, Les Recettes De L’Atelier has grown to become Nestlé’s fastest growing confectionery brand in Europe and is now sold in more than 15 countries.

As it arrives in the UK for the first time it is the third biggest premium confectionery brand in the region.

The range is made with high-quality ingredients sourced from around the world and the launch is being supported on Facebook and Instagram as well as through a range of in-store activities.

The products follow the rest of Nestlé’s UK confectionery range in being free from artificial preservatives, colors and flavorings and are made with 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa as part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan.



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Ruby chocolate: Nestlé’s KitKat becomes world’s first brand to adopt Barry Callebaut innovation

January 27th, 2018
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Barry Callebaut and Nestlé have partnered together for a world first – Japanese KitKat is the first consumer brand to launch a Ruby chocolate version named KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby. As of tomorrow (January 19), Nestlé Japan Ltd. will launch the Ruby chocolate version of its iconic KitKat brand in KitKat Chocolatory stores in Japan and South Korea, as well as online, and according to Barry Callebaut, this means it will be available in more countries.

KitKat is the first to offer this fourth type of chocolate to consumers, just five months after Ruby chocolate was first launched by Barry Callebaut in September 2017. You can read FoodIngredientsFirst coverage from Shanghai here.

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Christiaan Prins, Head of External Affairs at Barry Callebaut, said: “With Ruby chocolate being launched just five months ago and now already having a brand adopt and bring it to the market is extremely exciting. The Nestlé team in Japan and South Korea were the quickest to catch onto this trend. With the launch being in Shanghai last year, which could well be why there is an extra appetite from Asian countries. But ultimately, it’s about who is the quickest to adapt and integrate Ruby into their brands, and this case it was Nestlé in Japan and Korea.”
Prins believes the color of Ruby chocolate appeals to a broad group of people, and the flavor, in particular, appeals to millennials, he says.
The Nestlé deal is exclusive for a limited time, initially for six months, but Barry Callebaut is confident about the future of Ruby chocolate. Prins adds: “Barry Callebaut’s gourmet brands are also looking at launching it in the first half of 2018, so we can expect that it will become much more visible in the coming months, on the market.”
Since the announcement in Shanghai, China, on September 5, 2017, Ruby chocolate has been attracting strong interest from chocolate connoisseurs throughout the world. The Ruby chocolate used in KITKAT Chocolatory Sublime Ruby has a fresh berry-fruity taste and characteristic color. Ruby chocolate is made from the Ruby cocoa bean. No berries, berry flavor nor color are added. The bean has a specific set of attributes, which Barry Callebaut managed to unlock through an innovative process that took many years to develop.
Also speaking with FoodIngredientsFirst, Sandra Martinez, Nestlé Global Head of Confectionery said: “KitKat is one of our leading confectionery brands that have a unique mix of heritage and innovation. It was first manufactured in 1935 and since then has been delighting consumers all over the world with its breakthrough innovation.”
In Japan, there are more than 350 different products in a large variety of flavors. KitKat Chocolatory in Japan was also specifically selected for the affinity between its position as the most luxurious line among the world-popular KitKat Made in Japan brand and the innovation of Ruby chocolate, she says.
“The market for KitKat in Japan is mature and consumers are keen to try new and interesting flavors – that makes it a natural choice for us to launch KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby in Japan.” “Our strategy is to continue delighting consumers with the best possible products, solutions and services. We are happy to share more news with you once it becomes available,” Martinez notes.
“Sublime Ruby” was created through the craftsmanship of top pâtissier Yasumasa Takagi. It will be available for purchase in the KitKat Chocolatory stores as well as online. KitKat Chocolatory is a specialty store in Japan and South-Korea selling premium KitKat chocolates created with meticulous attention to ingredients and preparation methods under the direction of Yasumasa Takagi, owner-chef of Le Pâtissier Takagi.
Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Barry Callebaut commented: “I am very pleased that our innovative breakthrough Ruby chocolate has come to life so quickly through our partnership with Nestlé and the pioneering KitKat Brand in Japan. Nestlé was very quick in spotting the trend and in introducing a Ruby chocolate version of KitKat, which will entice consumers across Asia and beyond.”
‘KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby’ will be available from Friday, January 19, in time for Valentine’s Day.
• KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby 1 piece: 400 JPY (US$3.59)
• KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Valentine’s Assortment 5 pieces: 1,800 JPY (US$16.18)
• KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Valentine’s Assortment 7 pieces: 2,400 JPY  (US$21.57)

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Castronovo Chocolate wins at International Chocolate Awards

November 11th, 2017
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Castronovo Chocolate’s Signature Collection Nicalizo, Nicaragua 70% has won a bronze award in the Micro-batch – Plain/Origin Dark Chocolate Bars category at the World Finals from the International Chocolate Awards.

The winners, selected from more than 800 entries, were announced Oct. 14 in London.

This is the third award for the Nicalizo bar.

Earlier this year, the bar was awarded Silver in the International Chocolate Award Americas & Asia Pacific Semifinals (single-origin micro batch dark chocolate), and Silver the Academy of Chocolate Awards (London) Dark Bean to Bar under 80% category.

It is the 44th award overall for Castronovo Chocolate, who launched its business in 2013.

The Nicalizo bar was introduced to Castronovo’s Signature Collection – a thoughtfully curated assortment of the company’s finest chocolate – this year.

For its Signature Collection, Castronovo searches the world over for cocoa beans with extraordinary flavor.

Recent discoveries have found Criollo varieties of cacao with origins in Nicaragua, a country that is quickly becoming a hotbed for the world’s finest-flavored cacao.

Castronovo chose the Nicalizo heirloom cacao, which is certified heirloom by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP) for their chocolate because of the complex flavor of plum and cherry fruits along with rich buttery notes of toasted toffee with a little pink peppercorn spice and a long-lasting finish of roasted walnut.

The Nicalizo, Nicaragua 70% bar ($14) is available online at, and at select chocolate boutiques throughout the US.

Castronovo Chocolate makes exquisite bean-to-bar chocolate using heirloom beans from remote locations throughout the world. However, the company’s mission extends far beyond organic, award-winning chocolate.

Castronovo Chocolate is passionate about protecting heirloom varieties of cacao, enabling rainforest conservation, promoting peace in post-conflict regions and allowing cocoa to provide a commercial venture for indigenous people in remote villages.

Each chocolate bar has its own unique story that positively reflects its area of origin, impacts on biodiversity and protection of indigenous people’s culture.

Castronovo Chocolate is in relentless pursuit of discovering the absolute depths of the chocolate experience knowing full well they may never get there.

However, along the way, Castronovo Chocolate takes solace in knowing that they are providing a delicious chocolate product for all to enjoy.




How flawed science helped turn chocolate into a health food

November 11th, 2017
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A small and preliminary study was hyped to claim that chocolate fights Alzheimer’s.

Have you heard? Dark chocolate will do everything from boost your cognition to reduce your cardiovascular disease risk and even help you lose weight! Or so the chocolate science hype machine will tell you.

Several months ago, we got to wondering how chocolate candy had earned such a powerful health halo. So we dove into the science behind these claims about chocolate and cocoa to find out more.

In an original Vox analysis, we discovered that food companies like Nestlé, Mars, Barry Callebaut, and Hershey’s — among the world’s biggest producers of chocolate — have poured millions of dollars into scientific studies and research grants that support cocoa science. Of the 100 Mars-sponsored studies on cocoa, chocolate, and health, 98 had conclusions that were favorable to the candy maker in some way.

That’s an uncannily high number. And it raises questions about the quality of the studies, given that Mars and other chocolate makers can use the positive findings to market their products. Industry-sponsored studies are more likely than independent research to yield conclusions that favor the funder’s products.

In our review of the research, we found studies that were well-designed, well-executed, and that produced seemingly reliable results. (This was particularly true for the science on cocoa’s effects on blood pressure.) But some of the other claims don’t stand up as well when you look closely at the evidence.

One study in particular about cocoa staving off cognitive decline jumped out at us because it had sparked a small fracas on PubMed Commons, a site where researchers can comment on published studies. Several researchers took the time to critique everything from the study’s design and statistical analysis to how it was reported in the journal where it was published, Nature Neuroscience.

This Mars-sponsored study, led by researchers from Columbia University, was published in 2014. The researchers had wanted to test whether taking cocoa supplements might enhance a region of the brain called the dentate gyrus that deteriorates with age and is associated with age-related memory loss. They concluded that cocoa supplements — particularly the micronutrients called flavanols in them — can indeed boost cognition in older adults.

The research didn’t come out of a vacuum. Previous studies, particularly those focused on aging in rats, suggested flavanols might prevent cognitive decline. But upon closer examination, it became clear that this particular study was very small and preliminary — and that there were several problems with its design that made its results unreliable. That didn’t stop the chocolate hype machine, though. The paper was trumpeted by the Columbia University press office and large media outlets as more evidence that cocoa and chocolate can fight Alzheimer’s.

Ultimately, the study shows how scientists and the media have seized upon the narrative that chocolate is a health food — even when only the thinnest evidence supports the wishful claim.

The cocoa study was short, small, and focused on narrow outcomes that don’t matter to the real world

Before we dive into what made this Nature Neuroscience study suspicious, let’s look at what it was about. The researchers randomly assigned 37 people to one of four groups for a period of three months:

  1. A group that got a high daily dose (900 mg) of cocoa flavanol supplements as well as one hour of aerobic exercise four times per week
  2. A group that got the same high dose of cocoa flavanol supplements but without the exercise
  3. A control group that got a low dose of cocoa flavanols (10mg) with the one hour of aerobic exercise four times per week
  4. Another control group that got the low cocoa flavanol dose but without the exercise

So basically, the study participants either got a lot of cocoa flavanols or not, and added regular exercise to their lifestyles or not.

The researchers wanted to test whether cocoa flavanol supplements might stave off cognitive decline in the dentate gyrus region of the brain, which is associated with age-related memory loss. They also wanted to see if exercise had any effect on memory, since previous studies had suggested it might.

In the study, they found that exercise had no impact on brain function — but cocoa flavanols did. “Dietary cocoa flavanol consumption enhanced [dentate gyrus] function in the aging human hippocampal circuit,” they concluded. They also made extremely bold statements in the paper, even suggesting that the effects they saw in the high-flavanol group demonstrated that cocoa could reverse age-related memory decline by as many as three decades.

Columbia University’s newsroom touted the research as demonstrating that “dietary flavanols reverse age-related memory decline.” The research was then picked up by media outlets, including the New York Times, which trumpeted chocolate — not just cocoa dietary supplements — as a memory aid.

But here’s the thing: The study never actually proved that cocoa supplements, and especially not chocolate, could prevent memory decline. It was too small, too narrowly focused, and too short-lived to tell us anything important about real memory loss with aging, said Henry Drysdale, a doctor and fellow at Oxford University’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine.

To track memory decline, the main outcomes the researchers used over a 12-week period were an fMRI test that looked at increases cerebral blood volume, as well as a cognitive function test — the Modified Benton — which was developed at Columbia to measure dentate gyrus function. The researchers who validated the test found that people’s performance on the ModBent worsened with age, so they had reason to believe that this test would be a good marker of whether flavanols could make a difference here.

“Saying if you eat cocoa supplements now you’re going to have better memory in three months is not relevant to real-world [age-related memory decline],” said Drysdale, who co-founded Oxford’s COMPare Trials project which examines the quality of clinical trials.

If you really want to answer that question, you’d run the trial for several years and you’d need a group of study participants that’s bigger than 37 people. Instead of only tracking the study participants’ brain waves in an MRI machine (which is not a measure of cognitive ability), or using an object recognition task (the ModBent) to test memory, you’d also want to measure outcomes that matter in people’s lives, like, whether those taking cocoa could remember what they did that morning or that they had a doctor’s appointment next week better than the people who didn’t take the cocoa, Drysdale added.

This trial only demonstrated that supplements seem to enhance brain function over a period of weeks, and only according to a very specific (and not very widely used) test of cognitive function. That is far from valid proof that cocoa is a memory enhancer.

The researchers did other things that made the results unreliable

Drysdale and other researchers who were not involved with this study also took issue with it for much nerdier reasons. There are problems with how the study was reported that made its results less likely to be reliable — and even less worthy of the hype.

For one thing, the published version of the study looks different from what the researchers originally said they’d set out to do for this trial.

To understand why this matters, let’s step back for a moment.

Before researchers embark on clinical trials, they’re supposed to name (or “pre-specify”) which health outcomes they’re most interested in on a public database, like

For an antidepressant, these might include people’s reports on their mood, or how the drug affects sleep, sexual desire, and even suicidal thoughts. Researchers then group the outcomes into “primary” and “secondary” categories — the primary outcomes being the ones they think are most important — and describe precisely how and when they are going to measure these things.

Scientists are then supposed to broadly stick to this plan when they run their trial, and report on their findings in a journal. If they deviate from their plan, they need to be transparent about it and explain why they did so in the final journal article.

The idea is that researchers won’t just change their plans along the way, or publish positive or more favorable outcomes that turn up during the study, while ignoring or hiding important results that don’t quite materialize as they were hoping. (That’s a sneaky practice called “outcome switching,” and it’s a big problem in science.) Following these steps also enhances the chances that the findings researchers report on are real, not the result of tweaking a study’s design to get splashier conclusions.

But this didn’t happen in the case of this cocoa study. has a handy version control function that lets you see all the changes that were made to a clinical trials registry over time. It shows that the researchers for this cocoa study changed their outcomes over time, and also failed to clearly pre-specify them before starting the trial. They then didn’t report about the changes they made in their final study, which was published in the prestigious journal Nature Neuroscience.

For example, if you look at the earliest version of their report, from 2010, the researchers stated that the primary outcome they were interested in was an fMRI test that measures cerebral blood volume. The secondary outcome they were going to look for was “neurocognitive function” — but they didn’t say which test they’d use to measure neurocognitive function. In the published trial, the ModBent appeared as a second primary outcome along with the fMRI.

“If you don’t pre-specify your method of measurement of an outcome — in this case ‘neurocognitive function’ — you are free to choose, consciously or unconsciously, from a range of possible outcomes,” said Drysdale. “You can then pick the outcome that makes your chocolate look good. That’s not to say authors will always do this with vaguely pre-specified outcomes, but the option is there.” In this case, the researchers settled on the ModBent task as their primary outcome (in addition to the fMRI).

I asked the authors on the study why they failed to fully pre-specify their outcomes, and why they didn’t report all the changes they made in their original plan in the final version of the report, like they’re supposed to do. They said they were new to entering clinical trials data on registries, and that they didn’t realize they had to declare changes they had made to their study design in the final study. Whatever the reason, though, these errors in reporting are likely to make their findings less reliable, said Drysdale.

If you look at the most recent version of their clinical trials registry, it was published in January 2015, three months after they published their Nature Neuroscience article. “So they went back after article was published in Nature and changed their clinical trial registry. There is no mention of this in the trial report,” Drysdale added.

To be clear, this cocoa study is not unique. Hype in research is on the rise, and outcome switching is common — as prevalent in industry-sponsored research as it is in independent academic research. But the paper shows how, consciously or unconsciously, studies can be tweaked and exaggerated in ways that can yield misleading conclusions.

“The bigger concern is that people are trying to do a better job of selling the research itself and not just telling what the straight out answer is,” University of Toronto nutrition researcher Richard Bazinet said. This study only showed that over a period of three months, in a small group, according to a very narrow test that taps a very specific region of the brain, cocoa supplements enhanced cognition. That became “chocolate fights Alzheimer’s” — a message Mars surely appreciated.




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Cocoa Of Excellence: Celebrating The Farmers Behind Chocolate

November 11th, 2017
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“Without cocoa, there is no chocolate,” says Brigitte Laliberté, the coordinator of the Global Network for Cacao Genetic Resources and the Cocoa of Excellence Programme (CoEx). “It’s as simple as this. Everything starts from there.” She’s right, yet every award honoring chocolate focuses on the end maker, not farmers. The celebrated outlier is the International Cocoa Awards (ICA), an event overseen by Bioversity International, a global research institution headquartered in Rome, Italy, focused on the conservation of biodiversity in food and agriculture. Farmers and the preservation of diverse varieties of crops are central to Bioversity’s mission, including the cocoa that becomes chocolate.

Every two years, CoEx brings together chocolatiers and sensory analysis experts to do blind tastings of processed cocoa samples. This year, the group received 166 samples of cocoa beans from 40 countries ranging from Australia and India to Madagascar and Sierra Leone, part of the equatorial belt where cocoa is grown. Last week in Paris, France, at the Salon du Chocolat, they awarded 18 of those entries with an ICA for their efforts and skill.

The goal of the Awards is to empower farmers by highlighting and celebrating the cocoa supply chain—and the quality and flavors that come from a combination of farmers’ knowledge, genetics, post-harvest processing and the many qualities of terroir, or the taste of place. However, the variety of tantalizing smells and tastes isn’t only about deliciousness. “Cacao diversity,” CoEx explains, “is also vital for production, as it provides not only different flavors, but also resistance to pests and disease outbreaks, and resilience in changing climatic conditions.

In the same vein as the Cup of Excellence awards for coffee, the International Cocoa Awards are also intended to help farmers command a higher price for their crop, which is what they need in order to keep growing cocoa. As Simran Bindra, the cofounder of Tanzania’s Kokoa Kamili (the first East African cocoa company to win an ICA), explains, “We’d spent a lot of time sitting under mango trees with the farmers and asking them: What would be most helpful? Would they be interested in access to loans? Would they be interested in agronomy training? Time and time again, we heard, ‘You know what we’d be interested in? We’d be interested in getting a fair price for our cocoa, for our hard work.’”

This seems basic, but, as previously reported, the majority of cocoa growers are extremely poor. The Cocoa of Excellence Programme strives to alleviate this challenge—and it seems to be working: in the annual evaluation survey, 57% of respondents confirmed that this initiative has helped farmers sell their cocoa at a premium price.

“Just because a farmer only owns a quarter-acre or a half-acre of land in a rural part of a poor country, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be treated equally and fairly with the respect and commitment to ethical business practices that a much larger farmer in a more developed country would receive—or that a customer at a chocolate shop should receive,” Bindra says. “We’re eager to continue our work in making sure Tanzania is recognized as among the best cocoa origins. Hopefully, it will result in more interest from chocolate makers around the world.”

A full list of International Cocoa Award winners can be found here.




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What’s the real cost of chocolate?

November 11th, 2017
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Chocolate is the “food of the gods,” a sweet treat for many across the world, and a booming industry worth an estimated $110 billion a year. But as we unwrap a favorite bar or tuck into a truffle, how many of us take the time to think about where it came from, and who helped in its transformation from the humble cocoa bean?

Most of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, with more than a third coming from the Ivory Coast alone. Cocoa is grown mainly on small, family-owned plantations by farmers living in poverty.
By contrast, most of the world’s chocolate is consumed in the wealthy regions of Europe and North America.
Chocolate may be big business, but its key ingredient, cocoa, is cultivated by some of the poorest people on the planet. While demand for cocoa is growing to the point that some experts warn we may run out of affordable supplies within 20 years, the farmers who grow it earn a tiny proportion of the price we pay at the grocery store – and their share has dropped sharply over the past 35 years.
Cocoa beans grow in pods, directly from the trunk of the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao, or “food of the gods.”) One tree produces between 20 and 30 pods a year, each containing 20 to 50 almond-sized cocoa beans. A year’s harvest from one tree – processed into cocoa liquor, cocoa butter or cocoa powder — is enough to make up to 500g of chocolate.



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From cocoa to chocolate in an entertaining and didactic way

November 11th, 2017
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The children’s vacations are over and the school year has already started. Now, time to study! But before returning to school, many have had the privilege of learning about cocoa and Venezuelan chocolate in an entertaining and didactic way, as it took place at the vacation plan offered by the Chacaomarket in Miranda state.

There, about 18 children in the 5 to 12 age range, from the same neighbourhood and also from other sectors such as Quinta Crespo and La Florida as well as children of some shopkeepers of the market, participated in the activity that was led by the teacher and chocolate entrepreneur Lissett Jiménez.

A transformational process

The subject chosen for this sweet gathering was “From cocoa to chocolate”, in which the youngsters received information about the whole process involved in chocolate making, from the seed to the finished product in its different chocolaty presentations or by-products.

“It was an activityto get to know the history of cocoa, the description of all processes to make chocolate, the different types of the product and the tempering techniques” said Belkys Rodríguez, assistant at the recreation centre. “We also visited the shopkeepers who display their chocolates in the market”.

Rodríguez emphasised that Venezuela possesses one of the best cocoa in the world and that its processing and transformation is so special that she does not hesitate to recommend that cocoa is a subject to be imparted at all Miranda state schools, and beyond.

The Children’s recreation centre at Chacao market is part of a network of municipal recreation centres which are framed in what is known as Chacao Municipio Lector. Two other centres are located in the Library of Los Palos Grandes and in the Bello Campo Park.

Once again, cocoa and Venezuelan chocolate are integrated into the schedule of a vacation programme in the country. Their importance grows, so it does thesense of belonging towards a seed, pride of adults and children.



Chocolate ,