Super compound delivers all the appeal of chocolate and gives outstanding opportunities for product improvement.
By Marco Oomen, AAK’s Global Business Director for Chocolate & Confectionery Fats
Exactly how the global economy will fare over the next year or so is hard to predict. The same goes for the chocolate market. But, as consumers adapt to the ongoing pandemic, there are some things we do know. One is that chocolate and snack products are still in demand – another is the growing trend towards reduced cost solutions.
Add to that the rise in online shopping during the course of 2020, and you have a good picture of the challenges facing the chocolate industry right now. In brief, they include the need to deliver indulgence at affordable price points and ensure product quality remains stable during transportation to consumers.
The answers to all these demands point in the direction of super compound – the high-end chocolate alternative that can closely mimic the sensory properties and quality of chocolate.
Super compound is the best choice when filling the gap between chocolate and standard compound. It simply overcomes the limitations of both.
Chocolate versus compound
Smooth and delicious chocolate is known for its expensive raw materials. As the chocolate recipe is entirely based on cocoa butter, manufacturers are also limited in what they can do to improve stability during shelf life and innovate around texture and hardness.
Although the conventional low-cost alternative to chocolate – standard compound – can overcome most bloom issues and cut the cost of raw materials and processing, there are drawbacks here, too.
The noticeable difference is the sensory quality and a potential compromise in nutritional profile. Depending on the blend of vegetable fats in the compound, manufacturers may need to consider the content of saturated and trans fats.
The premium solution – for outstanding innovation
That brings us back to super compound. Although super compound falls short of the legal definition of chocolate in the EU and elsewhere, the health profile, taste, texture and meltdown match the properties of chocolate – and sometimes even exceed them. In other words, consumers may still perceive a strong brand as chocolate, even though it is not stated on the product label.
Finding ways to stand out from the competition is essential in a large food and drink universe where snacks are increasingly popular. Super compound gives manufacturers endless possibilities to customize meltdown, texture and snap as well as add new ingredients and functionalities.
All this satisfies the demand for indulgent, chocolatey snacks with a lower price relative to real chocolate.
Stable quality for web shops
The growth of online shopping has highlighted the need for manufacturers to ensure product quality remains stable during transportation to consumers. When storage temperatures are not controlled or fluctuate during distribution, products are prone to turn grey, dull and unappealing.
For manufacturers that rely on online sales, this is a risk to brand reputation they cannot afford to take. Consumers are likely to send it back with the next post, perhaps never to buy that brand again.
This is where the high bloom resistance of super compound comes into its own – making it well suited to web shop sales.
The sustainable choice
Over the next decade, consumers will increasingly expect companies to display good corporate citizenship. Shea, for example, is one of the key raw materials used in cocoa butter equivalents and comes from a reliably sustainable source. Growing wild in western Africa, the shea tree is an important source of income for the local women who gather the shea kernels.
At AAK, our standard super compound – ILLEXAO™ SC – is often a blend of shea butter and palm oil. Alternative exotic fats may also be used, if preferred by chocolate manufacturers.
Based on AAK’s Customer Co-Development approach, super compounds can be developed for all needs. That’s a major plus at a time of uncertainty on global markets. And it’s perfect for budget-aware consumers who demand premium solutions and increasingly prefer to shop online.