“Super compound” delivers a premium consumer experience with lower raw material costs

AAK’s research shows that the taste of chocolate is by far the most important factor for consumers.

AAK has developed ILLEXAO, a range of fat designed for making a “super compound” that can replace up to 100% of the free cocoa butter in a chocolate recipe. In turn, this will enable chocolate manufacturer to reduce formulation costs by up to 40% with “no decline in quality or product stability,” the company claimed.

The main fat phase of the “super compound” comprises vegetable fats with a similar composition to cocoa butter. This means it is fully compatible with cocoa butter, which will allow chocolate manufacturers to use it in their products to reduce costs while continuing to add cocoa mass to their formulations. The “super compound” delivers equivalent taste, texture, and meltdown properties, as well as a similar nutritional profile.

Traditionally, cocoa butter was the only vegetable fat used in chocolate, but a combination of increased demand, rising prices, varying quality levels and inconsistent supplies has led chocolate companies to seek alternatives. Standard compounds are more affordable, but the fat has a different composition to – and is not compatible with – cocoa butter, leading to sensory differences in the chocolate due to a lower cocoa mass content. Depending on the blend of vegetable fats in the compound, manufacturers may consider compromising the nutritional profile of their product by adding saturated and trans-fat. Technical difficulties such as these have therefore limited the use of compounds largely to chocolate coatings.

However, by using vegetable fat such as AAK’s ILLEXAO range, to replace some or all of the cocoa butter in the chocolate recipe, it is possible to produce a “super compound”. This addresses the challenges, giving manufacturers the opportunity to create indulgent chocolate with enhanced sensory properties and clean label credentials while saving 10-40% of ingredient costs, AAK said.

Additional benefits of using the “super compound” include increased scope for customization and improved shelf stability, bloom resistance and shape retention. Increased stability is more essential than ever during the COVID-19 crisis, because more shoppers are ordering food over the Internet. Even fore the pandemic, 35% of shoppers said they had bought chocolate online, according to AAK research. That figure is likely to have risen significantly in the wake of lockdowns worldwide that have forced people to stay at home for extended periods.

Marco Oomen, global business director for chocolate and confectionery fats at AAK, said: “AAK’s ILLEXAO range of super compounds offers both a premium eating experience and lower raw material overheads, as well as a clean label and no difference in the nutrition profile of the finished product.

“Furthermore, the growth of Internet 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, full 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 the super compound comes into its own, making it well suited to web sales.”