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Eggs, bells, bunnies, hens… When Easter comes, chocolate adorns its finest features to seduce an ever-growing number of consumers.
The French chocolate market has registered a 2.1% growth in 2016 with a turnover amounting to €3.2 billion and a volume of 381,900 tonnes. Each French consumer eats an average of 6.95 kg of chocolate per year. On this market, Easter represents 4% of the annual sales of chocolate (an approximate turnover of €128 million for a volume of 15,000 tonnes out of the total volume of sold chocolate in 2016). The French exports of chocolate have registered a double-digit growth (30%) in the past ten years.
Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon which happens on or after the spring equinox (March 21st). In 2017, the celebration will be on April 16th in Orient as well as in Occident.
Chocolate was added to the symbols of Easter (eggs, bells and bunnies) during the 18th century: fresh eggs were emptied then filled with liquid chocolate to mark the end of the Lent fasting.
The eggs entirely made of chocolate appeared during the 19th century thanks to the improvement of technologies in confectionery, which eventually enabled the production of chocolate hard shells. From that moment onwards, people’s love of chocolate and industrialisation have supported the development of such products.
The numerous kinds of chocolate currently existing to please our taste buds are all made from cocoa beans (growing on cocoa trees). They all depend on the EU directive 2000/36/CE (ingredients and labelling regulations).
According to the EU regulation, a product has to contain at least 35% total cocoa solids (of which not less than 18% cocoa butter and 14% fat-free cocoa solids) to be called “chocolate”.
The most common chocolate types are*:
Milk chocolate called “fin” or “supérieur” in French shall contain more than 30% cocoa butter (of which at least 2.5% fat-free cocoa solids and 20% milk solids).
*Percentage calculated on a dry matter basis
Dairy ingredients are used to manufacture milk chocolate and white chocolate.
Bars, fondants, fantasy-shaped hard chocolate, hot or cold… Many kinds of chocolate have been developed over the years thanks to the technological progress undergone by this industry.
To be selected and used by the chocolate industry, dairy ingredients must be compatible with the industrial manufacturing process needed to obtain the various chocolate products.
Dairy ingredients are well-known for their functional contribution to confections (either under their native form or as a result of being mixed with another ingredient). They are generally favoured for their contribution to the taste, texture and colour of the products they are components of. They may also potentially improve the nutritional profiles of these products (mostly regarding the calcium and protein contents).
1/ An essential ingredient of milk chocolate manufacturing: milk powder
Milk chocolate made for around 70% of the European production in 2012.
Whole milk powder confers a milky flavour and unique whiteness on the product. WMP also improves the texture of the final product. The chocolate industry used approximately 201,000 tonnes of WMP as ingredient in 2012.
A roller-dried WMP may be favoured to a spray-dried powder because the thermal shock created by the former leads to physicochemical reactions that are most valued by the chocolate industry: the lactose caramelises and the product browns (Maillard reaction). This process also confers a better fluidity on the chocolate thanks to a more important quantity of milk fat freed from the globules (such fluidity enables the manufacturers to reduce the quantity of cocoa butter to be included in the mix).
Nowadays, a growing share of the produced milk chocolate is manufactured from a mix of WMP, skimmed milk powder and AMF (the utilisation of AMF does not add additional volumes of water in the manufacturers’ factories).
Skimmed milk powder is particularly present within the composition of spread, registering at an average of 9%. The chocolate industry used approximately 232,000 tonnes of SMP as ingredient in 2012.
Milk powder owns many functional properties that are bestowed upon the chocolate products during their manufacturing:
SMP confers optimised grain size and density as well as a smooth texture.
2/ Dairy ingredients carry functional properties that are most valued by the chocolate industry
Its various functional properties make lactose an ingredient of choice for chocolate products:
Milk proteins are another source of significant benefits for chocolate formulations:
Sweetened condensed milk
The chocolate industry also benefits from the functional properties of sweetened condensed milk:
Cream is particularly used to manufacture chocolate filling. Manufacturers generally use cream to confer a unique creamy flavour on their final products; however this ingredient presents additional functional properties such as:
To avoid having to eliminate additional volumes of water, manufacturers may rather opt for cream powder. Cream powder is an excellent source of fat and also gives a creamy taste to the product. Using cream powder as ingredient improves product preservation and optimises production costs.
Whey and some of its by-products may be used to manufacture regular chocolate products where regulations allow it. These ingredients may serve as cost-saving sucrose and chocolate liquor substitutes. Whey powder is especially used as bulking agent, often in white chocolate.
Being able to use various dairy ingredients (such as lactose, whey powder, whey permeate…) enables the manufacturers to adapt their formulations depending on the market prices of the ingredients, without lowering the quality of the final product.
As a dairy ingredients expert, FIT may provide the chocolate industry with dairy ingredients especially adapted to the requirements of chocolate manufacturing.