The dairy industry knows that milk is an inherently nutritious food. What the industry might not know is that cocoa--a flavoring ingredient that has long been paired with milk in the manufacture of both confections and dairy foods--is also quite nutritious, Well, all right, cocoa is probably better described as highly functional rather than nutritious. However, whatever the terms, when you combine milk with cocoa, the end result is a power-packed food.
Just as milk (particularly a warm glass before bed) and other dairy products possess soothing qualities, chocolate, which is made from cocoa, has long been used to boost spirits and provide comfort. Why, when under stress or saddened do consumers crave chocolate? Maybe it's because the body knows cocoa contains high levels of the polyphenol antioxidants (flavonoids) catechins and epicatechins. It is hypothesized that these antioxidants produce an appeasing effect and increase the body's ability to cope with negative emotions. Though this effect has not been scientifically proven; other benefits have.
Researchers have shown that cocoa is one of the richest sources of bioavailable antioxidants. These antioxidants have a positive effect on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and preventing the development of cancer and dental caries. Cocoa has also been shown to decrease platelet aggregation (the aspirin effect), as well as enhance immune function.
Interestingly, cocoa's functional benefits have been known for a longtime. In 1519, New World explorer Hernando Cortes described liquid cocoa as "The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits man to walk for a whole day without food." About 350 years later, British author George Bernard Shaw said, "What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead." And most recently, animated TV dad Homer Simpson relaxes with "Mmmmmmm, chocolate."
Milk (including energy drinks and milkshakes), ice cream and dairy desserts are by far the most common dairy applications for cocoa. However, the opportunities are endless... and many of them can simply be new marketing twists on old favorites. For example, Hearty Chocolate Milk for comfort and longevity. Or, with a little R&D innovation, what about chocolate-flavored Energy Cheese Snacking Cubes.
A new company, HVC Lizard Chocolate, Norwalk, Conn., founded in August 2002, is dedicated to evolving chocolate into the nutritious brain and body performance food of the future. The company recently rolled out SoBe Chocolate Bars. HVC Lizard Chocolate has partnered with SoBe to leverage the healthy refreshment consumer brand equity of SoBe beverages with the holistic nature of its new chocolate products.
"This SoBe Chocolate bar not only feeds the soul but nourishes the body as well," says Jim Walsh, CEO. "It satisfies the senses and promotes peak performance of the brain and body."
Bill Meissner, v.p. of marketing, adds, "The future of chocolate is functional indulgence. We expect SoBe Chocolate Bars to be the pioneer in leading this industry into a new tomorrow for chocolate products."
Other chocolate foods are inevitable.
"When formulating with cocoa, product developers must take into account particle size, ingredient interactions, suspension, color and flavor," said Stanley Tarka, pres., The Tarka Group Inc., Hershey, Pa., at the recent Dairy Foods & Beverages conference in Chicago. "Cocoa powder suppliers' technical services personnel can provide assistance here."
Depending on the desired finished product color, a good rule of thumb when formulating chocolate-flavored dairy foods is that milk mellows the brown color. And with ice cream, overrun (air) dilutes cocoa color too, The more cocoa powder used, the more intense the color and flavor of the final product. However, more is not usually the best solution, as cocoa prices are quite high these days, and more can cause various ingredient interactions--some of which might be quite undesirable. With cocoa, quality is key.
Yes, cocoa bean prices have increased in excess of 250% in the past two years. Why the price increase? Cocoa crops have been hurt by disease and poor weather in top-growing African countries. In addition, in northern Africa, rebels fighting government troops in Ivory Coast--the world's largest cocoa producer, accounting for two-fifths of total supplies--has resulted in civil unrest.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Business News Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group