Premium British chocolate brand Doisy & Dam wants to reinvent classic confectionery items by making them better for consumers.
It has started with a healthier version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, creating two nut butter cups in hazelnut and almond flavours. Made with dark chocolate, each one is vegan and under 65 calories – with the almond flavour already Doisy & Dam’s bestselling product in their entire range.
“There’s no palm oil, no vegetable fats, no preservatives, nothing artificial and they are a third of the sugar, so it’s basically 65% less sugar than a Reese’s Butter Cup,” Doisy & Dam co-founder Richard Wilkinson tells Food Spark. “They’re high in protein and it’s just all natural ingredients.”
The cups come in three-packs and have been listed in Whole Foods, Boots and WH Smith stores over the last couple of months. According to Wilkinson, they are part of an untouched space in the treat aisle that is ripe for exploitation.
“There are a lot of premium, interesting chocolate bars that are super expensive and quite niche, but there are a load of classic products that people have become a bit turned off by recently, as they are pumped full of crap like palm oil and sugar – but actually they are firm favourites with people,” he says.
“We just wanted to reinvent them so they can be done in a way that is both delicious and good for you and ethically sound. The nut butter cups really are the first of a raft of new products that we are going to be releasing that will work along these lines.”
Nut-butter-based snacking products have been floating around for ages, but this area sees no sign of slowing, with a raft of NPD from new and old brands still rolling out.
UK start-up VIve is launching a trio of nut butter snacks coated in Belgian dark chocolate into Holland & Barrett and Planet Organic this month. The vegan bars contain 10g of plant-based protein and come in hazelnut, peanut butter and salted caramel. Founder Ishak Valimohamed said he came up with the idea because he wanted to offer a healthy, satiating natural snack that tasted like a chocolate bar.
In July, Deliciously Ella added to its range of nut butter balls – which already include hazelnut, cashew and ginger, and cacao and almond – just last month with two new flavours: raspberry and cashew, and apple, cinnamon and almond.
While Doisy & Dam is also planning more variations on its butter cup range, fresh products are planned for release at the end of September that tackle the impulse side of the confectionery aisle.
“For example, we are looking at doing things like our version of a Mini Egg, but it would be dark chocolate and we wouldn’t use any E numbers, so the colourants would use natural colours like carrot, beetroot and hibiscus – things like that,” Wilkinson says. “It would just be dark chocolate, and then a thin sugar shell on the outside and totally natural ingredients.”
Sneaking in new flavours
Doisy & Dam also has a range of bars and sharing packs with some unusual flavours, including dark chocolate with either maple, toasted rice and pink salt or coconut with Peruvian fruit lucuma; white chocolate with either lemon or poppy seed and baobab; and milk chocolate with dates and Himalayan pink salt.
“I think often we underestimate how interested in innovation British people are, and we wanted to combine them with things that people know and love. So that’s we why have maple toasted rice with pink Himalayan salt. People love maple… but we offer an approachable way to try these different ingredients, because if anything is wrapped up in chocolate people are likely to try it,” he says.
“Quite frequently, we will be using ingredients that are better for you. So we have our version of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Bar, which is our goji orange chocolate bar – goji berries are fantastic for you and they also have a nice chewy texture and taste to them.”
Dark chocolate rises up and sharing bags
But there’s a big trend that is going to have a considerable impact on Doisy & Dam’s current range and future NPD. Wilkinson says consumers between the ages of 18 and 30 are much more in favour of dark chocolate than milk chocolate, which is a big shift from those aged 30-60 years’ old who still love milk.
It means the brand is going fully vegan: it’s just stopped making any products with milk, with any currently existing in the range expected to be fully consumed by the end of the year.
“From our perspective it’s part of our commitment to using better ingredients and being ethically sounds as well,” Wilkinson comments. “We have never been huge users of milk chocolate, but I think it’s very difficult to claim that the milk that is used in chocolate… is completely ethical and transparent, and people in general have pretty strong opinions on the dairy industry that we kinda agree with.”
Wilkinson believes that consumers expect a minimum of ethical standards now and it’s fundamental to any brand in the chocolate category to understand their supply chain. While Doisy & Dam is looking to lease its own land, it is currently sourcing from Luker Chocolate, who are based in Colombia and run social and educational programmes, particularly in regions that have been damaged by drug cartels in the past, as well as working on reforestation of land.
Meanwhile, the sharing bag market will continue to increase rapidly and is the area that is set for most growth in the chocolate sector, predicts Wilkinson, who adds the caveat that health will influence portion choices.
“I think there will continue to be a shift towards premium – people are willing to pay more for products that deliver more,” he says. “I think there will continue to be a shift away from an onslaught of Cadbury, Mars and Nestle products that you find everywhere on the shelf because people are fighting back against sugar and the high-calorie snacks and sweet treats. I think people will look for smaller portions, more premium and lower sugar.”