The firm says its caramel coloured and tasting chocolate – Caramel Equilibre – has been so well received that one large UK biscuit manufacturer skipped laboratory tests and immediately began a full industrial trial.
Cargill’s European marketing manager for chocolate Brigitte Bayart said the colour and the taste of the product was unique.
“Our research suggests there is no other similar product on the market; either they don’t have this colour, this taste, or it is not a chocolate,” she said.
“What we have seen are a number of milk chocolate products with a caramel flavour or powder – but the colour is still brown, it is not like this.”
Bayart said the product had been developed over the past six months in a bid to meet growing consumer demand for caramel-flavoured products – something she says has been soaring since 2008 as people turned to “premium chocolate in tough times”.
In terms of chocolate confectionery, Euromonitor research shows caramel is the second most popular flavour combination, just behind hazelnut.
The main difficulty from a development perspective, however, was in meeting consumer expectations of what a caramel chocolate should look and taste like.
“It was very tough,” said Bayart, “we had to match the colour and taste of caramel in a chocolate, so it was not easy.
“We worked from a white chocolate base so we could achieve a caramel colour, but the danger then was that it was too sweet. To keep it balanced was probably the biggest challenge.
“We did some research which found that the Werther’s Original sweet was the benchmark across Europe with its gold colour and the dairy taste. So we tried to get that colour and the very creamy taste in our chocolate.”
Initial feedback from food manufacturers had been overwhelmingly positive, Bayart maintained, not least because it opens up the possibility of three on-pack claims: the fact it contains real caramel; a small amount of salt means it can be associated with salted caramel; while it also made from Belgian chocolate.
“Chocolate is often a vehicle for added value for our customers and this extends that. From a manufacturer’s perspective it works exactly like white chocolate so it is not difficult for them to work with,” she said.
One major UK biscuit manufacturer, which Bayart declined to name, is already undertaking a full-scale industrial trial.
“One of the biscuit manufacturers we met on the Friday contacted their md straight away and said we need to launch this very quickly and be the first to market. On the Monday we had to ship a large quantity to them so they could do an industrial trial – they didn’t do a lab trial,” she added.