Natural cocoa in
formulations to open up opportunities for makers, new study
Evidence backing the antioxidant powers of natural cocoa could bring new
opportunities for confectionery firms looking to boost slacking sales in a
saturated market, reports Lindsey Partos.
the total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of a range of cocoa powders, from processed
to semi-sweet chocolate, US researchers found that natural cocoa contains the
highest capacity of the antioxidant procyanidin.
Procyanidins, mixtures of oligomers and polymers composed of the flavonoids
catechin or epicatechin, are found in a range of foods, including nuts, fruits,
spices and some vegetables.
Flavonoids found in chocolate include the main flavonoid epicatechin, and
catechin, and polymers of these, the proanthocyanidins.
epidemiological studies suggest that high intakes of flavonoids are associated
of cardiovascular health, although other factors may also account for the
In vitro (test
tube) and in vivo (in humans) studies have shown that cocoa flavonoids and
chocolates may decrease low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, may modulate
and could positively affect the balance between certain hormones, or eicosanoids.
actions can play a role in maintaining heart health.
scientists are only starting to understand the significance, and health
the US government-backed Agricultural Research Service (ARS) investigated
TAC and procyanidin levels of six chocolate and cocoa products: natural
powders, Dutch processed (alkalinized) cocoa powders, unsweetened baking
chocolate baking chips, dark chocolates, and milk chocolates.
Their findings suggest that natural cocoa contains the highest capacity of
Presenting their conclusions this week in the US at the Experimental Biology
the ARS scientists said milk chocolate reported showed the least amount of cocoa
with the lowest TAC and procyanidin levels.
Baking chocolates contained fewer procyanidins, because they contained more fat
cent) than natural cocoa.
Processing conditions like alkalinisation, used to reduce the acidity and raise
the pH of cocoa, such as Dutch chocolates, markedly reduced procyanidin content,
the researchers report.
Pushing the potential antioxidant activity of chocolate in a range of new
formulations may help confectionery makers scoop up additional
an stagnant market marked by eroding sales as the increasingly health conscious
consumer turns away from chocolate products.
European sales have also been affected by a rising sense of health
consciousness, having a particular impact on the chocolate segment,"
consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor said recently.
Sales growth for chocolate across Europe is slated to slow down in future years,
with value sales likely to reach ˆ5.6 billion by 2007, an increase of just 4 per
Britain is far ahead of its continental rivals when it comes to chocolate
consumption, accounting for 32 per cent of the total market by value in 2003 –
estimated at ˆ5.3 billion.
But a recent report from Datamonitor shows chocolate consumption is slowing down
as health and diet concerns impact sales.
According to Datamonitor, the pace of growth in the market is slated to slow
down, kicked off in 2004 when overall chocolate volume sales rose by less than 1
per cent to 605m kg.