Ingredient Focus 2018: Chocolate

We explore the latest products, news, and trends in the chocolate sector
Ingredient Focus 2018, Chocolate


Neuhaus Summer Collection

Neuhaus is celebrating the 60th birthday of two Belgian chocolates: Caprice and Tentation. The limited edition Summer Irrésistibles collection pays homage to the classic Caprice and Tentation chocolates which were launched on the occasion of the 1958 World’s Fair. The triangular chocolates are available in three flavours; pineapple, passion fruit and yuzu in milk and dark chocolate varieties. Each of the flavours contain unexpected ingredients, concealed under a layer of chocolate — spicy Szechuan pepper in the pineapple, lemon and aniseed in the passionfruit and sweet mango and coriander in the yuzu flavour.


+9714 379 0512
800-MOKA (6652)

Cacao Barry’s Origine range

EMF has made two new additions to Cacao Barry’s Origine range: Mexique and Papouasie. Cacao Barry’s Origine range of couverture chocolates are prepared from cocoa mass with cocoa beans from a single geographical area. Mexique is dark couverture chocolate made from Mexican cocoa beans, mainly Forastero. Papouasie is creamy milk couverture chocolate that comes from the Forastero beans of Papua, located just south of the equator. Its full flavour is accompanied by delicate aromatic notes of hazelnuts, crowned with a hint of caramel.

+971 4 327 2254

Inspiration Range

Valrhona has recently launched new flavours within the Inspiration range; these include passionfruit and strawberry. The range of fruit and nut couvertures by Valrhona with a 100% natural flavour and colour has been designed for professionals, blending cocoa butter, sugar and fruits.

+33 (0)4 75 07 90 90

Cuvees du Sourceur

Chef Middle East has launched two new chocolate couvertures called Cuvees du Sourceur from Valrhona’s laboratory range. The limited edition chocolate couvertures are from two new cacao origins: Bali and Haiti and are aligned with the brand’s CSR commitment to support the people involved in plantations and the cycle of cocoa production as well as the perpetual search for rare cocoa beans and flavours. Valrhona’s sourcing team headed to Bali and met with the members of the Kerta Samaya Samaniya (KSS) cooperative. The Sakanti Bali 68% comes to life in an acidic, fruity dark chocolate 1kg block. Kilti Haiti 66% is characterised by a powerful chocolatey taste and strong vanilla notes.

+971 4 815 9888

Chocolat Madagascar

Chocolat Madagascar grows terroir cocoa on the north west and east coasts of Madagascar, crafting their chocolates at their facility nearby. The flavoursome. high quality cocoa does not require large amounts of sugar to enhance its flavour profile. Products include: 100% cocoa chocolate couverture, which contains 0% added sugar and is crafted so that it can be used by chocolatiers and chefs in an easy melt, temper and low oxidation small block format and 80% milk chocolate couverture.

+44 1612 981900

Chocolate Experience by Dobla

The Fast Chocolate Experience by Dobla was launched by Aramtec during a culinary day at Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek. The event showcased how to tweak a traditional concept, such as fast food in a different way. Under the slogan ‘Reinventing the Classics’, the event presented items such as chocolate fries, chic shakes and the donut topper. In the Fast Chocolate Experience, visitors were able to get a ‘fast food meal’ of chocolate on a tray. Chefs can use the products to serve chocolate fries made from white Belgian chocolate with salty caramel crunch, served with three sweet and sour sauces: mayonnaise, ketchup and peanut sauce. Choose a crunchy topping to finish it off.

+9714 380 8444

Veliche Gourmet

Veliche Gourmet has recently launched a complete range of sustainable products including decorations and inclusions. The new range of specially designed decorations and inclusions, for which the company buys cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, are now available to turn great creations into extraordinary ones.

Aramtec, Veliche Gourmet distributor
+9714 380 8444


EMF, the Middle East coordination office for the Barry Callebaut Group, presents Cacao Barry’s initiative towards a sustainable and traceable range of couverture chocolates with pure cocoa taste. Cacao Barry supports the Cocoa Horizons Foundation to improve the living conditions of cocoa producers and their communities.

Moka General Trading LLC and S.A. Neuhaus N.V. signed a distributor agreement covering the territory of the United Arab Emirates. In line with this, Neuhaus Boutique Dubai flagship store has recently opened at The Dubai Mall. Together with its gourmet distributor Aramtec, Cargill officially launched Veliche Gourmet in the Middle East last February at Gulfood. Veliche Gourmet is Cargill’s premium Belgian chocolate brand with a long established heritage in producing fine quality chocolate, from couverture chocolates and cocoa specialities to inclusions and decorations. By buying cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms for its chocolate products, Veliche Gourmet also helps to protect the environment and supports sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers, their families and communities.

Natural and authentic

There is a trend for natural and non-GMO sourcing with chocolate. Moka Trade general manager Sheryl Maxwell says: “The current chocolate trends that we are seeing today involves higher demand on chocolates that are all natural/non-GMO.”

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate marketing director Ilco Kwast comments: “The increase in demand for food transparency, is reflected in the growing interest in non-GMO and organic chocolates.”

EMF Emirates general manager Pierre Feghali shares the same view, he explains: “A return to transparency through authentic ingredients, has become rapidly popular in the last couple of years. Consumers want transparency on all levels of the supply chain, like where the food comes from and how it’s made.”

Chocolat Madagascar director Neil Kelsall comments: “The trend is for more healthy and traceable chocolate, with much less sugar.”


The Middle East is booming for F&B businesses, and chocolate plays an important role in this growth.

La Marquise general manager Anthony Bedoyan agrees, commenting: “The Middle East is well known for its passion for sweets and the demand for premium chocolates is rapidly growing. According to Euromonitor data, western countries have seen a declining consumption in chocolate in the past five years whereas the Middle East experienced a steady growth.”

Looking at the internal breakdown within the region, Baqer Mohebi marketing manager Mazen Marakebji reveals: “Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for chocolate consumers where more than 80% of people eat chocolate. UAE and other markets follow, and to prove that, you can witness the expansion of chocolate shops and increasing competition.”

Riyadh Hassan, sales & marketing manager — pastry division of Aramtec, who says that the chocolate industry is one of the fastest growing in the region and is driven by consumer lifestyles and behaviours with a variety of innovative new products, flavours and varieties being launched every year. He states: “The Gulf region is known for its passion for chocolate; the size of the chocolate market in the region is increasing by more than 5% annually. The consumption of normal and expensive chocolate during Eid, Easter and Christmas is tremendously high which keeps all manufacturers busy in innovation and coming up with new ideas and flavours.”

Chefs in the region are always looking for more. Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate gourmet and distribution commercial director Robert Nolten says that for Veliche Gourmet, the Middle East is a key region with lots of possibilities. He comments: “Chefs are looking for very good quality chocolates and want to get constantly inspired. Their customers are looking to be delighted so they need to keep up with exquisite creations. Also, workability is the key for success, especially in hot regions.

With the positive growth in the Middle East, the chocolate industry has also benefitted, comments Valrhona brand manager Southern Europe and Middle East Nathalie Lascroux. She adds: “In the same way, for Valrhona the Middle East is an important region because it is a dynamic and innovative market. Consumers are always looking for new experiences and this encourages chocolate professionals to innovate and create original recipes.” Chef Middle East (which distributes Valrhona in the region) also agrees. Its pastry specialist Pooja Bhatt adds: “The Middle East has a growing economy and with the emergence of restaurants and F&B outlets, we are witnessing multiple touchpoints to grow our brand Valrhona. In fact, we observe that our sales of chocolate are growing every year and that the market is more keen to explore new aromatic profiles and constantly seeking innovation.”

This growth has been noticed by international brands; luxury Swiss chocolatier Confiserie Sprüngli opened its stand-alone boutique & café in The Dubai Mall this year, following its launch at The Galleria Mall on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi. Sprüngli Middle East managing director Marc Wirth reveals: “The UAE is the only place outside of Switzerland where we have a physical presence with a boutique and café. We are not a franchise but a Sprüngli presence directly from Switzerland; that says a lot about our expectations for this market. The Middle East is a place where people enjoy the finer things in life and, therefore, is an important market for us.”

As pointed out in the trends box-out (see pg 43), there’s a focus on non-GMO, transparency and authentic ingredients. There’s also an increasing focus on health in general across the world. Experts in the industry think that chocolate can actually play into this trend. Moka’s Maxwell points out that all-natural pure chocolate is high in antioxidants and possesses many health benefits “including an overall improved health as long as it is taken in moderation”.

Antioxidants are mentioned by all, and EMF Emirates GM Pierre Feghali says: “Due to growing health concerns, the demand for dark, sugar-free, and organic has increased rapidly. Consumers are aware of the health benefits of dark chocolate, its antioxidant properties, and good fat in the form of cocoa butter.” Because consumers are more health-conscious than before, La Marquise’s Bedoyan states that brands are meeting demand “with an abundant variety of healthy options, such as chocolates with reduced sugar, a combination of nuts and chocolate, organic and all natural ingredients options for vegans and raw chocolate”.

Chocolat Madagascar director Neil Kelsall notes: “Chocolate has a very bad name for health, because of the high sugar content in confectionery processing. Cocoa is very healthy if it is unprocessed, having at least 20 times more antioxidants than broccoli (according to the ORAC scale). The high flavanols of cocoa help reduce blood pressure and reduce risk of heart attacks. However low quality bulk cocoa is very bitter tasting and needs chemical manipulation and flavour manipulation by adding vanilla, sugar, milk and other fat products. High quality, fine flavour single origin cacao does not require chemical processing, thereby preserving the real health properties of cacao.”

Top trend: milk, dark or white chocolate?

Tastes differ and what chefs want to do with ingredients also vary. What is the market asking for when it comes to the kind of chocolate used? Moka Trade general manager Sheryl Maxwell comments: “In our segment of supply i.e. turndown chocolates, the demand for milk and dark chocolates are still the same, however, we are noticing a steady shift in five-star luxury hotels for a more open approach to exploring new flavours other than the typical white, milk and dark in plain form.”

EMF Emirates general manager Pierre Feghali also notes that there is now an increasing interest in different taste profile chocolates by chefs, which is not only limited to milk, dark and white.”

Sprüngli Middle East managing director Marc Wirth says that until recently, the trend was a combination of chocolates in unusual exotic flavours or fillings, but he has noticed that this has shifted towards dark chocolate, with chocolatier’s using a higher percentage of cocoa and developing chocolate with less sugar. La Marquise general manager Anthony Bedoyan finds a similar trend: “At the moment the most popular selling chocolate is the 62% dark chocolate. This chocolate is more versatile and is an easier platform to work with because of the high temperature melting point. It also brings a lot more consistency when it’s an added ingredient in a recipe and the bitter taste allows for better fillings.” Both Valrhona’s Lascroux and Chef Middle East’s Bhatt say that while the taste for dark chocolate exists, the Middle East region shows that guests have a preference for milk chocolate.

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