Fad or Future

Can raw chocolate break out of the wellness scene?

Brands continue to crowd into this area, from products with chia grapefruit to CBD infusions, but do consumers actually want healthy chocolate?

15 April 2019
image credit: Getty Images

Raw chocolate is a bit of a loosely defined term. Turn to some of the makers of this sweet treat and the most common consensus is that it refers to unroasted, minimally processed cocoa beans – in other words, keeping chocolate as close to its ‘raw’ form as possible.

Though the use of the label varies, it was clear from the sea of stands displaying raw chocolate at the Natural and Organic Products show that it has a revitalised appeal, with creators hailing their goods as a healthy alternative for the chocolate lovers out there.

Conscious Chocolate for one was brandishing a relaunched range with reformulated recipes and a brand redesign, after receiving investment from Fortissimo Group. Created in 2004 by Emma Jackman, the company features key flavours like orange and tangerine, peppermint and its Love Potion No.9, which is made with organic maca and essential rose oil.

The brand’s new recipes include the replacement of agave syrup with coconut blossom sugar, which it said boasts a higher level of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Part of the makeover also involved reformulating the use of its cacao to ensure the chocolate’s ‘snap,’ making it residue-free on fingers while eating.

Bars were resized from 50g to 60g – bucking the trend among larger chocolate manufacturers – but will maintain their original prices. The new products come in compostable packaging and film now too, as well as being suitable for vegans.

Conscious Chocolate hopes its raw chocolate will appeal to millennials looking for something new and authentic.

Unusual flavours

But while Conscious Chocolate might not have had much competition 15 years ago, this category in the wellness sector is getting rather crowded.

Bulgarian chocolate brand Bio Benjamin is a family affair that launched in 2017 and now has 16 products. Flavours like rose oil, chia grapefruit, mint maca, lemon spirulina, mulberry guarana and matcha lemon are clearly aimed at an experimental crowd.

The Raw Chocolate Co, which is stocked in Holland and Barret, incorporate many of the same ingredients, including goji berries, mulberries and almonds, as well as ginger and fava beans.

Ombar, which is already in the likes of Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods and Planet Organic, was an early adopter, launching in 2007. when the founders could see the potential for a ‘healthier’ chocolate bar.

Cold-pressed and CBD

By consensus, raw chocolate is never heated above 42 degrees Celsius. Some producers, therefore, opt to cold-press it. Adam’s Cold Pressed Chocolate claims the technique retains the raw aspect while benefiting the natural flavours.

The company claims cold-pressing protects the bean’s minerals and micro-nutrients, maintains the cacao’s complex flavour layers and rich aroma, creates a smooth velvety texture, and keeps the chocolate raw and unrefined. Flavours include coconut and banana; goji berry and pistachio; hazelnut and blackcurrant; and mint.

Also in the cold-pressed crowd is the Sicilian maker of Modica, although it markets its products for either puddings or drinks and, somewhat differently, recommends combining them with a fortified wine or tequila.

Raw CBD-infused options have also crept on to the scene – as Food Spark has previously highlighted – with both Lovechock and Scottish manufacturer Almighty Foods dipping into this chocolate fountain.

Is Sparkie ready to go raw with his chocolate?


Sparkie says:

It’s interesting to see the raw fad coming back. Personally, I can’t see chocolate catching on for the simple reason that people don’t generally eat chocolate to be healthy.

I am curious to see how Conscious Chocolate tastes though, because without the roasting, it is going to lack the majority of the complex flavours which make chocolate enjoyable. It sounds like they are trying to cover that up with the additional flavourings. To me, it all seems counter-productive. This ‘healthy’ version is still going to contain everything that makes chocolate unhealthy – the high fat and sugar content – but lack the enjoyable taste.

The moves that we have seen in health food have been away from the age-old story that health food has to be bland and awful. I don’t think there is room for a product anymore that fits those old narratives.

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