Callebaut Finest Belgian Ruby RB1 Chocolate Launches in China


First ruby chocolate for chocolatiers and chefs will be available in China from September this year

Bakery China, Shanghai/China, May 10, 2018 – Callebaut, the Belgian Chocolate brand of the Barry Callebaut Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, announces today that the first ever expression of ruby chocolate fully dedicated to artisans and chefs – Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate ruby RB1 – will be available in China from September this year.

To celebrate the launch, Callebaut ruby RB1 was unveiled – for the first time in Asia Pacific – at a sneak preview this week at Bakery China (May 9 -12), one of the biggest bakery and confectionery events in the country.

“Ruby is the most exciting thing to happen in the chocolate industry in decades,” said Barry Callebaut’s Vice President for Global Gourmet, Pascale Meulemeester. “We are proud to offer this fourth category of chocolate – after  milk, dark and white – under the Callebaut brand and our Finest Belgian Chocolate range. Offering ruby chocolate to artisans and chefs in China will unleash a wave of creativity that will lead to exciting new products and concepts for people to enjoy.”

The introduction of ruby RB1 in China reaffirmed the company’s market growth and expanded Gourmet offering to meet the needs of the fast-growing segment of professional users of chocolate in China. Gourmet products—chocolate and cocoa products that are typically used by artisan professionals such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs, bakeries, hotels, restaurants and caterers—have fueled the business growth of Barry Callebaut in China. The company’s gourmet business in the country has doubled in volume over the last five years.

Denis Convert, Barry Callebaut’s Vice President for Gourmet in Asia Pacific, said, “During the past decade, we have been working with chocolate manufacturers and food service companies to deliver high-quality chocolate to the Chinese consumers. Ruby chocolate fuels our excitement about the future of chocolate in China which we believe has the potential to become one of the biggest chocolate markets in the world.”

With its arresting color and unique taste, ruby RB1 satisfies a yet unmet desire for extreme pleasure, delighting all senses. Research – conducted in several countries including China – shows that it resonates strongly with a new generation of consumers – mainly millennials (18–35 years old) who balance a healthy lifestyle with the quest for extreme pleasure.

Ruby chocolate, a gift from Mother Nature

Ruby chocolate was discovered more than a decade ago. The invention is the work of the global R&D center of Barry Callebaut in Wieze, Belgium – part of a global network of 28 R&D centers –, the Jacobs University (Bremen, Germany), and over 175 years of expertise in sourcing and chocolate crafting.

The researchers found out that ruby chocolate was linked to specific precursors for taste & color, naturally present in the “ruby” cocoa bean. Identifying these ruby cocoa beans, which hold plenty of these precursors, and finding the best way to process the beans during the chocolate-making process has taken many years of research. RB1 owes its color and specific taste solely to the expert selection and meticulous processing of the ruby beans – no fruit flavoring or colorants are added to the chocolate.

“Food culture is very important to all Chinese people, and a growing taste for artisanal gourmet chocolate in China is changing the way Chinese are eating chocolate. Ruby chocolate´s fruity character with fresh, sour notes and low sweetness should be particularly appealing to the Chinese market,” said, George Zhang, Barry Callebaut’s Managing Director for China. “We are confident that Callebaut Finest Belgian Chocolate ruby RB1 will create an exciting new food experience in China.

Successful operations in China

This year, Barry Callebaut also celebrates the 10th anniversary of its chocolate factory in China, a USD 20 million investment, inaugurated in January 2008.

In its state-of-the-art chocolate factory in Suzhou, China, Barry Callebaut manufactures chocolate  for global and local food manufacturers (that use chocolate and cocoa as ingredients in their consumer products) and also imports premium European chocolate for artisanal and professional users of chocolate. The company is also the outsourcing partner for a growing number of Chinese food manufacturers seeking high-quality chocolates.

Since the start of its Suzhou factory, the company made several further investments in China in the last 10 years, including:

  • an additional production line for white chocolate, research lab, pilot plant, building a highly skilled workforce and an environmental-friendly facility.
  • a new CHOCOLATE ACADEMY™ center in Shanghai where it has trained more than 3,000 professionals, enabling them to harness their skills and to learn more about the latest trends and innovations in chocolate.

Furthermore, with China becoming the largest e-commerce market in the world, Callebaut’s range of chocolate is now also available on the country’s most popular e-commerce sites including Tmall for the professional chocolatiers across China, doubling its online sales in the last 12 months. The Company has also created a digital marketing platform on China’s leading social media channel WeChat which caters to a broad community of chefs and chocolatiers across the country, and enables these chefs to upgrade their skills and to network with other professionals.

To mark the 10-year anniversary in China, the company will hold its annual Gourmet Pastry Chefs event of June 2018 in Shanghai – the 7th such gathering and the first time in Asia Pacific. More than 50 chefs from over 20 different countries are expected to come together and to present some of their best innovations in partnership with the chocolate and confectionery industry in China.

Promising growth perspectives in China

Although the domestic chocolate industry witnessed a big boost in sales recently, chocolate consumption in China still has plenty of room to grow. Analyst firm Euromonitor estimates that the chocolate confectionery category in China will grow from USD 2.8 billion today to approximately USD 3.9 billion by 2021 and that Asia Pacific will be one of the fastest growing regions globally.1

1 Euromonitor, August 2017, Chocolate Confectionery in China