Ingredient Focus: Desserts

The regional dessert industry's challenges and changing demands from consumers
FOOD & BEVERAGE, Kitchens & Catering


Where Trends Meet Chocolate


EMF Emirates and Callebaut organised an event entitled “Where Trends Meet Chocolate” which saw a gathering 80 chefs from the Middle East to discover what the future holds in terms of chocolate trends. Three distinct trends were explored through recipes created by EMF Emirates’ international chefs: Philippe Marand, Marc Pauquet, and Krsto Radovic.

Marc Pauquet showcased ‘Desserts on the Go’ with three of his recipes that featured enhanced colours and were convenient enough to bring as an on-the-go snack. Especially eye-catching were his Tahini Sesame Truffles.

Krsto Radovic awakened childhood memories with a modern touch in his three recipes based on the trend ‘Classics with a Twist’. He retained the essence of three classic recipes while giving them a creative and modern look.

Finally, Philippe Marand shared his take on the trend ‘Confectionery Reloaded’, where four recipes were filled with flavour, contrasting textures and exciting new shapes.


Millac SuperWhip

Millac SuperWhip is a high quality, non-dairy confectionery whip topping that offers chefs versatility and consistency. The product was developed to meet the needs of chefs and caterers around the world. SuperWhip is a highly functional product with excellent stability for at least 72 hours, is acid stable and can whip up to four times in volume. During the development process, its creators ensured that SuperWhip blended well with dairy cream, has fantastic piping definition and offered a great working window so it’s difficult to over whip.

Fruffi Sicilian lemon

CSM has recently launched Fruffi Sicilian lemon, a premium fruit filling with high fruit content (70%), made with Sicilian lemons.

All Fruffi fruit fillings are ready to use and makes fruit pastries and desserts. convenient to prepare in no time. Fruffi can be used in both cold and baked applications. It brings stability to mousses and creams and can be used as a topping or filling inside cakes and pastries.

Fruffi has been conceived to remain firm in cakes for ease of cutting and is  “bake-stable” and “freeze-thaw-stable” so the possibilities to use Fruffi in diverse pastries and desserts are endless.

Pristine’s chocolate mousse mix

IFFCO’s recently launched mousse mix provides a creamy and fluffy mousse for perfect desserts. It has a rich chocolate aroma which augments the characteristics of the mousse and is a delight for chocolate lovers. The product is also egg and gelatin free and sets quickly. The mix can be scaled up for large-scale manufacturing as well and has been tested to provide a consistent experience for all-scale manufacturing.

Cara Nougatine

EMF Emirates has launched a Cacao Barry product, Cara Nougatine, which is positioned as a true homage to Brittany and its ‘caramel au beurre salé’. It delivers an authentic milky caramel taste with a hint of salt. Inspired by the silky taste and the colour of the chocolate Zéphyr Caramel 35%, Cara Nougatine will bring taste and texture to creations thanks to 37% of real white chocolate with caramel, 18% of crunchy caramelised almonds bits and mesmerising salty notes.

A mix of caramel-flavoured white chocolate, caramelised almonds and pinch of salt for an authentic caramel taste and a surprising crunch texture makes it a perfect base or insert for desserts, filling or confectionery.



Consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the products they consume. This interest in, and awareness of, the products they consume mean that they demand better quality products from outlets and manufacturers.

IFFCO Ingredients junior marketing manager Uzair A. Sheikh says: “With the internet growing and becoming a knowledge hub, consumers have become more aware of ingredients used in bakeries and their impact on health. On the basis of this, they have re-defined their food consumption patterns and have chosen a healthier organic diet, which is a relatively expensive route for current manufacturers.”

In addition to the operational difficulties desserts always presented, further challenges have emerged as customers continuously demand the freshest ingredients and no additives and/or preservatives. According to Clinton St. Baking Company operations manager Deon Oberholzer: “This has led to an even wider span of challenges mostly due to higher ingredient costs and time constraints based on the short shelf life of dessert items.”

SugarMoo co-founder Raki Phillips echoes this sentiment, saying: “There are several challenges in the industry ranging from hiring talent to increasing costs and the availability of longer shelf life products that include ingredients such as premixes which we understand could bring down our costs considerably; however, it’s very important for us to use ingredients that are good for us and made freshly in-house on a daily basis. In the long run, our customers choose us because of our quality of ingredients and efficiency of ordering whether it be via our online website or through our app and this is where we will continue to stand out.”


The region and specifically the GCC, has seen a rising affluence and hectic lifestyles which have resulted in a shift in preference towards quick and easy meal options. This shift in consumer preferences has impacted the bakery industry significantly.

Sheikh says: “A swift move towards bakery mixes and ingredients is observed as a result of these trend. The challenge to meet the ‘quick and easy’ proposition at a given quality is an innovation test for bakery experts and requires their constant attention.”


Another challenge facing regional dessert manufacturers is the over-dependency on imported products which leaves them open to supply volatility, resulting in price hikes which need to either be absorbed or passed on to the consumer.  This can lead to manufacturers resorting to low quality alternatives such as the use of products containing vegetable oil in order to substitute premium dairy products from Europe.

“To overcome this challenge, the governments of GCC countries have played an important role by subsidising staple food items, which has increased demand for local produce, and local bakery manufacturers are encouraged to participate,” explains Sheikh.

Top trends


Encouraged by a consumer appeite for nostalgia, retro desserts are making their way back on to menus.

“These desserts make you reminisce about our childhood memories and are boosted with new flavours to give you an added surprise. These re-invented classics are giving a bold direction to the dessert market in the GCC. Some noticeable products include the re-invention of rice pudding with different flavours popping up in the market,”says IFFCO Ingredients junior marketing manager Uzair A. Sheikh.


Chefs are experimenting with flavour profiles, and traditionally sweet desserts are being given a savoury twist.

Sheikh says: “There is a rise in popularity of savoury-influenced desserts such as hazelnut and mint, pesto and lime, and cottage cheese sorbet has been noticed in the UAE.”

EMF general manager Pierre M. Feghali has also noticed this move away from traditional flavours, saying: “One of the trends we currently see is revisiting the classic desserts, giving them a modern twist by adding a flavour and re-thinking the assembly of the ingredient. This year has been a springboard for the savoury, spicy and sweet flavour category; these mash-up flavour combinations are very popular.”


Another interesting trend observed in the market is the enhanced colour vibrancy in desserts. The unicorn trend has arrived in the region and trickled down to mainstream outlets. The desserts are colourful and pleasing to the eye making them highly ‘Instagrammable’.

Raki Phillips, co-Founder of SugarMoo, has recognised the importance of visually interesting and interactive offerings: “We have recently added a Cake Pop Smash Cake to our menu. It’s a big chocolate dome that you have to smash into to get individual cake pops. This is a fun cake for a big crowd who want to skip on slicing a cake and would rather just grab a cake pop. No cutlery required!” 


The ‘free-from’ movement continues to gain momentum but people with gluten-free and vegan diets still want to indulge in sweet treats. 

Sheikh says: “Butter creams are being replaced with white chocolate, and sugar composition has seen a declining trend in desserts. Specifically, KSA has seen a rise in healthier alternatives with market leaders switching tracks to provide for healthier options, but with no compromise on the taste and quality.”

Clinton Street operations manager Deon Oberholzer agrees: “The food industry is demanding more and more organic and healthy options, and this is no different for desserts. Incorporating fresh fruit and home-made ingredients, minimising sugar and eliminating artificial additives is what seems to be some of the biggest deciding factors of customer purchases nowadays.”

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