Changing chocolate tastes

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ChocolatesweetpearlChocolate sales in China reached Chinese Yuan 7.7 billion (€846m) in 2009 according to Euromonitor, after growing by a compound annual rate of 10 per cent since 2004. The market is still relatively undeveloped, with average per capita consumption a tiny 90 grams – well behind developed world rates, says the research firm, but this means that strong potential for growth remains.

Prior to the 1990s, few Chinese had ever tasted chocolate, except those who had contacts abroad, says Shao Feng, marketing director of the snack foods division at Chinese food conglomerate Cofco. Now, sales are being driven by rising incomes in the major cities and an increasing desire for Western products.

“Women now have higher salaries and can afford to buy themselves snacks,” says Shao. Cofco bought a registered Swiss brand – Le Conté – and imported Swiss manufacturing equipment and know-how to start the country’s first chocolate factory in the Shenzhen special economic zone near Hong Kong in 1991.

Yet it has struggled to compete with international confectionery heavyweight Mars. The company was one of the first foreign firms to enter China, setting up a manufacturing facility in 1993. Aggressive advertising and a wide distribution network has turned its Dove brand into China’s best-known chocolate, and also established the taste profile for chocolate in the market, explains Lawrence Allen, a former executive at Hershey’s and Nestlé, “This was virgin territory. There was a willing consumer who wanted to try a foreign, exotic product. And Dove was everywhere. It was classic mobile warfare.”

Dove had a 9.4 per cent share of the market in 2008, well ahead of Le Conté’s 5.7 per cent, according to Euromonitor. Dove is marketed as a ‘silky, smooth taste’, often accompanied by an image of a beautiful woman. Cofco is now trying to rival Dove’s position with a new slogan – ‘The richest, purest, and most beloved Le Conté’. “Their chocolate is sweeter, while we have a higher cocoa content. Our chocolate is more pure,” explains Shao.

But Allen, author of the China business book ‘Chocolate Fortunes’, doubts that Cofco can rival foreign brands, “The Chinese first tasted chocolate when they received it as a gift from abroad. It is still seen as a foreign indulgence.”

However, Shao claims that the Chinese consumer is more interested in quality than the origin of the brand. His view is perhaps supported by the surge in dark chocolate products entering the market. They accounted for a third of all new product launches in 2008, according to market research firm Mintel, although the trend slowed last year.

Cocoa percentage

Many brands highlight the percentage of cocoa clearly on their packaging. Mars launched a 66 per cent cocoa product last June (called ‘Chun hei qiao ke li’, which means pure dark chocolate), one of the highest on the Chinese market. Ferrero followed a few months later with the introduction of Ferrero Rondnoir in two test markets, Guangzhou and Nanjing. Meanwhile, Cadbury’s and Lotte offer 45% cocoa content products in China, while Lindt has introduced a 99% cocoa content bar and reports good demand from older women.

“The growth of dark chocolate is very noticeable,” said Kevin Zhu, analyst at Euromonitor. “These products are positioned as a premium and target females who care about their figure.”

Health concerns in China are creating some niche categories. Beijing Yili Food specialises in sugar-free chocolate. “Our target consumers are young girls who don’t want to gain weight and people with diabetes. There are more and more diabetics in China,” said spokeswoman Zhang Bin. Nestlé says it is adapting its successful Wafer range to meet growing needs for ‘healthy snacking’. A strawberry yoghurt wafer, launched this year, contains added calcium.

Bite-size packaging

china-flag-waveChocolate packaging is also evolving in China as consumers in major cities become chocolate lovers. Packs containing bite-sized chocolate pieces are popular, particularly among consumers still developing a chocolate-eating habit. “Many Chinese won’t eat a bar in one go. You often see an open chocolate bar sitting on an office desk, with the top folded over with a paper clip,” said Allen.

Hershey’s Kisses proved popular for this reason and their pouch packaging has been copied by others. Manufacturers are increasingly targeting upwardly mobile women with more handy packets, however. Lotte’s cocoa-rich Dreamy Chocolate comes in a plastic bottle, the kind more commonly known to contain chewing gum. Dove has recently launched Xin Sui, which consists of different flavours of chocolate drops sold in plastic containers even smaller than Lotte’s chewing gum bottle. Both packs are well-suited to carrying in handbags.

However, such products are rarely found beyond Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities. In those regions, gift-giving remains the major driver of chocolate sales. Boxed assortments made up about 40 per cent of total sales in China in 2009, according to Euromonitor, as wealthier consumers sought to show off their rising status by lavishing chocolates on business relations. Weddings, Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day are increasingly important for chocolate makers too.

Ferrero has done well out of this trend, taking a number three position in the market thanks to its boxes of gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher. “This is the perfect product for China,” says Allen, pointing to the traditional Chinese belief in gold as an auspicious colour.

Nonetheless, Shao claims that Le Conté is ahead of Ferrero in sales thanks to Cofco’s much wider distribution network. Unlike most foreign firms, its reach extends into the ‘second-tier’, or smaller, Chinese cities. Allen believes that Cofco’s chocolate brands will benefit as these cities develop, tapping into desires of the upwardly mobile population who no longer want to buy the cheap compound chocolate made by some of the domestic brands. “When the middle section of the market opens up, Le Conté will be there. You’ve still got a billion people out there who have never tasted chocolate.”

Meanwhile, in the top-tier cities, brands that nurture an image of exotic luxury will continue to win sales. One such name is Belgium-based Senz, which has recently introduced its Art of Expression range. “Chocolate produced in Belgium has a good image,” says Euromonitor’s Zhu. The product also contains macadamia nuts, another exotic ingredient. Indeed, chocolate with nuts is expected to be a growing trend in new chocolate launches in China, according to Helen Zhao, research manager at Mintel in Shanghai.

Source: Confectionery Production


Bubbling Up

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Air inclusion is a wide-spread practice in the confectionery and bakery industry.Marshmallow_and_Nouga-Frappe_o_s_side

Aerated confectionery can be defined as an aerated gelled product containing a mixture of carbohydrates, mainly sugar and different types of glucose syrup, whipping and/or stabilizing agents, flavor and color.

Advantages of the process include an increase volume, together with a decrease in density, modification of the viscosity and fluidity of the aerated mass, leading to better stability and a modification of the texture and organoleptic characteristics of the finished products. In products, it also leads to a shorter texture, modification in the mouthfeel, reduction of stickiness and cold flow and a decrease in sweetness.

Sometimes, aeration is just one of a number of techniques available for improving appearance, texture and consistency. In other cases, aeration is essential for providing the food with its characteristics properties. Typical examples are baked goods, some desserts such as ice cream and certain confections, such as nougat and marshmallow.




The Color of Caramel

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caramelToffees, caramels and fudge have a predicted global growth of six per cent over the next four years, according to Euromonitor. The optimal product is naturally a combination of ingredients and equipment.

It is the dairy ingredients that make toffees, caramels and fudge so special. Other additional ingredients such as fruit pieces, nuts, special flavorings and chocolate coatings can take the basic creamy mix to new heights of luxury – but the texture of the foundation must be optimal to start with.

caramel 3Toffee and fudge confectioneries are complex, not only due to their specific combinations of ingredients – dairy components, sugar, fats etc. –but also due to the different processing methods and final textures involved. In toffee and caramel the sugar is fully solubilised, whereas in fudge the sugars are processed to a crystallized form.

The correct balance of sugar, glucose syrup and dairy ingredients, therefore, is vital to produce the ideal confection in terms of sweetness, texture, and of course shelf life.

In caramels it is often desirable to reduce stickiness while maintaining the ideal texture (thickening or gelation), melting properties and milky perception.


General Mills wins Edison Best New Product award

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GeneralMillsAtlasFood giant General Mills has won an Edison Best New Product award for its Betty Crocker Gluten Free Dessert Mixes.

The products took home at gold award at the ceremony, which was held in New York, US, last week.

Betty Crocker was the first nationally recognised brand to launch gluten free brownie, cookie and cake mixes aimed at people with specific dietary requirements.

“We are thrilled that Betty Crocker Gluten Free Dessert Mixes won gold and are honoured to have one of the strongest brand icons in the food industry associated with one of America’s greatest inventors,” said Jodi Benson, baking research and development and transformational business development director for General Mills.

“It has been extremely rewarding to welcome gluten free consumers back to Betty Crocker through this innovative line of products.”

Other winners in the awards’ food segment included Con Agra’s Healthy Choice Mixers which received a silver accolade.

Source: Ingredients Network


New starch to tackle collapsing cakes – while keeping texture

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Tate & Lyle is launching a new modified corn starch for bakery and pastry creams and custards, which is claimed to deliver both cuttability and good mouthfeel.

When used in creams and custards native starches tend to deliver a firm gel, which is easy to cut and does not stick to the knife but lacks good texture and mouthfeel properties. Most modified starches, on the other hand, deliver on the mouthfeel but make a sticky mess when the cake is served.

This can put bakers in something of a quandary. In the past, the may have tried to find their own solution by combining native starch and modified starch, but it can be very hard to achieve the right results consistently, Caroline Sanders, marketing manager at Tate & Lyle.

With its new starch, called Resistamyl 140, Tate & Lyle sought to find the a middle ground between the two. When used in hot-processed creams for pastry or biscuit layers, it is said to give good adhesiveness but still be shapable – and does not stick to the equipment.

“Sometimes you want to cut a cake, but it’s a mess by the time you put it on a plate,” said Sanders. “It can help bakers design a high quality product with good mouthfeel.”

She said the real market benefit is that it provides the tools to modulate viscosity. While the major obstacles in getting the firmness/mouthfeel balance right have been overcome, bakers can then combine Resistamyl 140 with native starches themselves to fine-tune the texture to suit their precise needs.

The new starch is an extension of Tate & Lyle’s existing Resistamyl line and is not intended to replace other offerings. It is said to be easy to handle, and to require only short cooking time.


Erythritol cookies pass taste tests

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Erythritol structure

Erythritol structure

Formulating cookies with erythritol may allow for partial replacement of sugar without the consumer tasting a difference, says new research from Taiwan.

Up to 50 per cent of the sugar content of Danish cookies was replaced with the low-calorie sweetener without noticeable changes to colour, sweetness, hardness, flavour and overall liking, according to findings published in the Journal of Food Quality.

Against the backdrop of soaring obesity and diabetic statistics, consumer and political pressure is driving manufacturers to slice calories from their food formulations.

Erythritol, a bulk sweetener polyol that occurs at low levels in some fruits and fermented foods, contains a variety of benefits, including zero-calorie content, low GI index and a low laxative effect. The ingredient, manufactured by Jungbunzlauer and Cargill, is already marketed towards diabetics, since it does not affect glucose and insulin levels.

“There is no published information on the effects of erythritol on the quality characteristics of cookies,” explained the researchers from Hungkuang University and the National Chung-Hsing University. “It would be beneficial to develop the novel formulation of cookie production with erythritol.”

The Taiwanese researchers therefore set out to formulate a range of Danish cookies with erythritol replacing 0, 25, 50, 75 or 100 per cent of sugar (sucrose).

“It is anticipated that the result of this study will be viewed as a reference to food industries,” they added

Formulation details

Using erythritol obtained from Japan’s Mitsubishi-Kagaku Foods Company, the Taiwanese researchers formulated a range of cookies with increasing degrees of sucrose replacement, from zero to 100 per cent.

After baking, there was no difference in moisture, protein, and fat content of any of the cookies formulated with sugar or partial or full replacement with erythritol, said the researchers.

Furthermore, they note that the bulk sweetener was stable during baking.

Seven trained tasters evaluated the cookies and noted a cooling sensation at the higher erythritol levels of 50, 75 and 100 per cent, while there was no difference in the moistness and hardness of the samples.

The tasters also noted no difference in the colour, flavour, hardness, sweetness, and overall liking of cookies prepared with up to 50 per cent replacement of sucrose with erythritol. Higher levels of replacement decreased these sensory qualities, they added.

“A successful and novel formulation of Danish cookie production with erythritol was developed,” stated the researchers. “Danish cookies formulated with partial replacement of sucrose with up to 50 per cent erythritol had sensory and physical quality characteristics comparable with cookies prepared with 100 per cent sucrose.

“A partial replacement of erythritol for sucrose in Danish cookies may produce healthier and lower-calorie cookies to humans,” they concluded.


Improved gluten-free and with oats and enzymes: Study

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oatsThe next generation of gluten-free products may be achieved with sourdough technology and better processing of oats, according to the EU’s HealthGrain project.

While oats do not contain gluten, the proteins they do contain do not possess the unique visco-elastic properties characteristic of wheat gluten, thus oat doughs resemble cake batters rather than bread doughs.

In an attempt to overcome these challenges researchers participating in the European Union project HealthGrain project examined the effects of processing on the final bread structure and its nutritional content.

Care with oats

It should be noted that, although oats do not actually contain gluten there is some concern over their presence in foods since they are commonly contaminated during processing with gluten from wheat, rye or barley, according to Coeliac UK.

According to the HealthGrain researchers, sourdough fermentation and hydrostatic pressure (HP) processing show potential to improve oat bread quality. The data showed that high quality oat bread could be achieved using wholegrain oat flours with low batter viscosity, low flour water hydration capacity, starch content of above 65 per cent, protein content of about 12 per cent, low starch damage and coarse particle size.

The researchers also noted that different oat varieties yielded better quality bread than others, dependent on the protein and fat content, starch properties as well as alpha-amylase activity.

The researchers, led by Professor Elke Arendt from University College Cork, also examined the effect of sourdough on oat bread quality and indentified superior performance of lactic acid bacterial strains which are not commonly found in wheat or rye sourdoughs.


Improved protein networks were achieved using HP, said the researchers, when pressures of 350 MPa were used or more were used. At lower pressure, the researchers noted a weakening of protein structures. Addition of HP-treated oat batters to oat bread resulted in improved volume and decreased staling at 200 MPa, while higher pressures did not improve oat bread quality, they said.

Blooming market

Gluten-free foods have rapidly increased in popularity over the past few years – partly as a result of better diagnosis of celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by exposure to gluten, the protein in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. However, there has also been a mass movement toward gluten-free products by those who have self-diagnosed wheat or gluten intolerance or who believe gluten-free to be a healthier way of eating.

Since it was valued at a modest $580m in 2004, the global market has grown at an average annual rate of 29 per cent and last year was worth $1.56bn, according to Packaged Facts. It could be worth as much as $2.6bn by 2012.

The nutritional content of gluten-free foods is an increasing area of concern. Many of these products are characterised by reduced nutrient contents. In most cases, such products are not fortified and are poorer in B vitamins, iron, folate, and dietary fibre than gluten-containing formulations. Gluten-free foods also fall beyond the realm of fortification programmes.

One area showing promise is the use of alternative or ‘ancient’ grains, such as amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, sorghum, and teff. Only recently, scientists from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York reported that the use of such alternative flour sources could improve intakes of protein, iron, calcium and fibre (Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics).

Oats have been receiving increased attention based on their nutritional quality, linked to the total dietary fibre and beta-glucan content. Beyond beta-glucan, oats also contain high amounts of other valuable nutrients such as proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

The HealthGrain project included researchers from University College Cork in Ireland and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.


The Upper Crust of Pie Appreciation

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loginPieTopThe American Pie Council® (APC) is the only organization dedicated to preserving America’s pie heritage and promoting America’s love affair with pies. Designed to raise awareness, enjoyment and consumption of pies, the APC offers Amateur, Professional and Commercial Memberships that enable lovers of pie to sink their teeth into sweet annual events like the National Pie Championships®, the Great American Pie Festival® and more; ongoing contests that reap recipes of the month, awards and increased sales; and provide filling reading material like Pie Times! Every tidbit about APC offers morsels of information that’s good to the last crumb. Join today, it’s a piece of pie!

Your bigger  piece of the pie

The National Pie Championships® is four days of getting your fill of pie and seeking the best tasting pies in the country-where amateur pie makers, professional bakers/chefs and commercial pie companies from around the country and Canada have been competing since 1995.

While the Great American Pie Festival is the cherry on top of NPC, competitors and spectators can enjoy two days of pie in the sky and off the pie charts of fun! It’s easy for everyone to find their favorite piece of the action-from pie-eating contests, vendor exhibits and baking demonstrations to games, live entertainment and “fill-anthropic” bake sales to benefit good causes like food banks and children’s programs.

Membership fills the world with pie charts & graphs

As a member of the APC, you will have access to all information that we have available for the pie baking industry like tips, tricks and recipes. Plus, receive the quarterly newsletter, Pie Times. Not to mention smile sweetly on National Pie Day. In addition, the APC will help you research any information that we do not have immediately available-no matter how you slice it, joining is a sweet deal!


Iced Tea

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Iced teaTea ice

Milk 1000g
Cream 200g
Sugar  250g
Trimoline 30g
Yolks 160g
Stabiliser 4g
Earl grey tea 40g

Cook a crème anglaise at 85ºC. Add the trimoline and the 4 g of stabiliser, then leave the Earl Grey tea to infuse. Strain and reserve cold.

Lemon water ice

Lemon pulp 330g
Sugar 330g
Water 660g
Glucose  30g
Orange juice 6g

Make a syrup with water, sugar and glucose. Add the fruit purées and boil again. Strain and reserve cold.

Hazelnut biscuit

Whites 300g
Sugar 100g
Whole hazelnuts 180g
Icing sugar 180g
Roasted hazelnuts 115g

Whip the whites and stiffen with sugar. Make a TPT with the hazelnuts and the icing sugar then sieve. Mix gently using a spatula. Bake at 175ºC/180ºC in a ventilated oven.

Finishing touches

Turn out the frozen bombes. Reserve in the freezer. Make a mixture with icing paste, milk and roasted hazelnuts (10% mixture). Dip the bombes in the hot icing paste.



Exotic little flower

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Exotic little flowerRecipe for approximately 54 pieces.

Butter 100g
Icing sugar 80g
Almond  powder 100g
Eggs 100g
Starch 10g
Cream 30g

Soften de butter. Add the sugar, almond powder, starch, eggs and the warm cream. Pour into a mould and bake at 160ºC.

Mango coulis

Frozen mango purée 250g
Passion fruit juice 50g
Inverted sugar 50g
Pectin NH 8g
Caster sugar 50g

Heat the purées and inverted sugar to 40º. Add the pectin and caster sugar mixture and bring to the boil. Mould immediately and freeze.

Finishing touches

Stick the fondant on a pastille of dark chocolate, stick the 2nd pastille on the fondant and position little flower of coulis.

Ingredients for this recipe

Butter 100g
Cream 30g
Eggs 100g
Icing sugar 80g
Caster sugar 50g
Inverted sugar 50g
Poudre almond 100g
Starch 10g
Pectin NH 8g
Frozen mango purée 250g
Frozen passion fruit purée 50g