Chocolate consumption falls during COVID-19

With COVID-19 restrictions around the world limiting impulse purchasing and decreasing consumer confidence, global chocolate consumption has fallen significantly over recent months, according to a new report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report — Consumers Lose Taste for Cocoa Under COVID-19 — Rabobank said a significant proportion of chocolate demand is comprised of impulse and gift purchases made at retail shops, vending machines, airports, or while travelling.

“The instant gratification of an in-person purchase has been largely unavailable while consumers have been stuck at home and under government imposed lockdowns and this, combined with the prospect of a recession, has seen consumers more likely to shun indulgent snacks, especially those considered a luxury,” report author, London-based Rabobank commodities analyst Andrew Rawlings said.

In the US, for example, Mr Rawlings said, chocolate sales in supermarkets initially increased in April as consumers stockpiled goods, however sales for May and June showed steep month-on-month declines.

“We’ve also seen this trend play out in other regions and other commodities across the globe, with a short period of stockpiling prior to government lockdowns followed by a return to a new normal in sales,” he said.

Lower cocoa demand
The report says lower global chocolate consumption has led to a drop off in demand for cocoa grindings – the main ingredient in chocolate.

“In some regions — such as Europe — we saw processors increase cocoa grindings in quarter one, as they anticipated the potential for future plant closures during lockdowns. However, outright lower cocoa demand in the fallout of COVID-19 saw grindings in major production regions significantly lower year-on-year in quarter two,” he said.

“For this period, European grindings fell by 8.9 per cent year-on-year — the largest percentage decline in Europe since 2012 — while there were also big year-on-year falls in grindings production in North America (10.5 per cent) and in Asia (six per cent).

The report says the recession resulting from COVID-19 is expected to extend into 2020/21 and cocoa demand is unlikely to resume its growth trend until 2021/22, assuming a complete relaxation of social distancing measures. 

Downward price pressure on cocoa
Rawlings said while cocoa demand had been impacted by COVID-19, the effects of the virus on cocoa supply have been minimal, and will likely continue to be.

“The mid-crop harvest is well underway in West Africa and with no major weather issues, cocoa availability at origin should be extremely good,” he said.

“This imbalance between supply and demand will likely keep pressure on cocoa prices until availability weakens or a weather issue develops ahead of the main crop in October.”

Australia
While specific Australian chocolate consumption was not detailed in the report, Rabobank Australian-based senior analyst Michael Harvey said similar trends are expected to have been evidenced locally.

“With weaker economic conditions, consumers tend to tighten their belts and are less inclined to make discretionary purchases of some luxury food items,” he said.

“Australia’s economic slowdown over recent months is likely to have adversely impacted chocolate sales, however, the country’s relative success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 means sales may have declined less significantly than in some other regions.”

Harvey said with cocoa the principal ingredient in chocolate – along with milk and sugar – the lower demand and strong supply could spell good news for chocolate lovers, likely to keep a lid on retail price rises in the near future.

Ahrens’ latest project a sweet success

Ahrens’ latest design and construct project, Barossa Valley Chocolate Company, has proven to be a sweet success with locals and visitors to the South Australian region.

The $5.5 million-dollar facility combines a chocolaterie, retail shop, café, ice creamery and cellar door, nestled amongst mature gum trees and vineyards in the historic Barossa Valley, South Australia.

As a fellow local Barossa company, Ahrens were a winning match of experience in the region with a quality cost effective approach.

Works included the construction of a 1,375 square metre building complete with functioning chocolate producing facility, amphitheatre, cellar door, commercial kitchen, 150 seat café, retail area, point of sale areas, landscaping and a deck under the main roof overlooking a fabricated lake.

The venue offers several stunning design focal points including a chocolate waterfall, a stone fireplace, picturesque man-made lake, and a viewing window to the chocolaterie, which plans to initially produce 50 tonnes of chocolate a year.

Ahrens engaged Barossa architect, Jamie Gladigau of JBG Architects, to design the facility, continuing a long-relationship of local projects with Ahrens.

Barossa Valley Chocolate Company was the brainchild of owners Chris and Sandy Day who collaborated with Food and Beverage Australia Limited (FABAL) to see their idea come to fruition.

The venue takes inspiration from destinations around the world that have already perfected the art of pairing beautiful locally-produced chocolate with local wines.

The cellar door showcases FABAL’s Vineyard Road wines and offers paired chocolate and wine tastings.

The venue was officially opened by Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway and Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone.

Mr Ridgway said the latest attraction was ‘a fantastic addition to the Barossa Valley tourism mix’. “Appealing to children and adults alike, it is sure to bring an influx of visitors to the region,” Mr Ridgway said.

“It is a significant investment and contribution into South Australia’s visitor economy that will create jobs for locals and increase the already outstanding appeal of the Barossa Valley.”

With extensive experience in delivering facilities for the food and beverage sector across Australia, Ahrens are particularly renowned in the Barossa Valley for specialising in winery buildings and infrastructure, commercial buildings, and engineering and winery maintenance.

Our experience ensures we can deliver facilities that meet even the most stringent of food handling and processing requirements.

Macadamias aim to disrupt chocolate category

Australian Macadamias has today released findings from independent research agency, GalKal, revealing macadamias are an underutilised ingredient in the traditional chocolate and nuts pairing. As consumers constantly crave new and creative confectionery, macadamias can bring excitement and interest to commonplace product formulations.

While chocolate and nuts are an established pairing, the space is dominated by nut varieties such as peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds. Over 13,000 chocolate products were launched globally in the past year; more than 1,400 (11 per cent) featured hazelnuts and a further 485 (4 per cent) featured peanuts, while only 75 (0.5 per cent) products launched featured macadamias.

Be it to unwind, de-stress, uplift or re-energise, consumers around the world crave chocolate confectionery to bring a sense of indulgence and escape from the everyday. There is a global demand for new flavour and texture combinations that inject luxury and surprise into the everyday chocolate experience.

READ MORE: The macadamia challenge returns

Lynne Ziehlke, general manager, marketing for the Australian macadamia industry said, “While consumers are very familiar and comfortable with the idea of nuts in chocolate, the current pairings have become quite commonplace and expected.

“The research showed that macadamias are the ideal ingredient to disrupt the tried and trusted nut-chocolate relationship and help create more exciting, novel and unique expressions of chocolate.”

The findings also brought to light the notion of ‘permissible indulgence,’ meaning consumers seek out chocolate that justifies the indulgence they crave either because it is perceived to be high-end or contains ingredients that are healthy. However, consumers do not want to compromise by settling for products that don’t deliver on the inherent pleasure of eating chocolate.

Ziehlke adds, “We continue to see the concept of ‘health as the new form of wealth’ dominating the consumer landscape. Macadamias are recognised as a guilt-free ingredient due to their nutritional value but at the same time are recognised as a premium product that will add luxury and deliver an indulgent eating experience.”

“The distinct, rich and creamy taste and texture of macadamias means they are the ideal ingredient to inspire chocolate innovation and bring excitement to a category in need of disruption. Macadamias also have a unique ability to balance out very sweet or very savoury flavours and create a harmonious overall taste profile. This opens up a wide range of opportunities for new product formulations.”

Methodology
Interviews were conducted with influencers in Germany, China and the US, followed by an online community with prosumers in Germany and the US and focus groups in China

Axieo new distributor for Puratos’ industrial chocolate products

Puratos has announced the appointment of Axieo as the distributor of industrial chocolate and compound products for the Australian and New Zealand food manufacturing sector, effective 1st September 2019.

Axieo supplies specialty and functional ingredients to its customers through relationships with partners across the globe.

Axieo’s general manager of chocolate and marketing, Chris Bolden, commented, “Puratos is the perfect chocolate and compound partner for Axieo. They source the finest cocoa ingredients, display innovation through Cacao -Trace (in -house programme for sustainably sourcing cocoa), provide efficiencies via vertical integration, and craft their products utilising traditional methods. Most importantly, Puratos understands and shares our consumers’ love of chocolate.”

Puratos offers a range of products, raw materials and expertise across a variety of applications in the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors. In their markets, Axieo will supply Puratos’ Belcolade (“the real Belgian Chocolate”), Chocolanté (chocolate), and Carat (compound chocolate).

Marco Stampfli, managing director for Puratos Australia and New Zealand said, “Puratos is delighted to commence our partnership with Axieo. With their technical expertise, best in
-class customer care, premium product portfolios and supply chain excellence, Axieo has a strong platform, network and commitment to building our chocolate business in Australia and New Zealand. We look forward to working closely with Axieo.”

New ‘beauty shake’ rich in chocolate and health benefits

Avant-Garde Wellness has launched a new product that aims to help in weight loss while still tasting great.

The Beauty Shake, contains a blend of proteins, several functional fibres and marine collagen. It contains more 10g per serve of dietary fibre blend, designed to help weight loss without feeling hungry.

It also delivers 3,500mg of marine collagen to promote skin hydration and reduce visibility of wrinkles.

It is made with the goodness of cereal fibre from oats, cacao bean extract and prebiotic acacia fibre that will keep you full for hours without having to deal with excessive calories.

It also contains marine collagen, which promotes skin beauty through positive effects on skin hydration and reducing visibility of wrinkles.

Collagen is what keeps skin elastic and it is responsible for replacing dead skin cells.

Formulated by Dr. Jaroslav Blazek, the rich chocolate shake is also good for digestive gut health.

The shake is manufactured and packed in Australia from local and imported ingredients.

 

Nestlé sells off confectionery brands in New Zealand

Nestlé is selling off toffees, licorice and other confectionery in New Zealand.

The company is saying goodbye to lollies, but it’s staying in the business of producing chocolate and baking goods for the New Zealand market.

RJ’s in New Zealand will purchase the Mackintosh’s, Heards, Oddfellows, Black Knight and Fabulicious Red Licorice brands from Nestlé.

The completion of the sale is expected to happen on the 31st of August.

READ: Nestlé joins Global Coalition to advance animal welfare standards

Where possible, RJ’s intends to continue the manufacture of these brands in New Zealand, with plans to be finalised in the coming weeks.

Nestlé will also sell the Life Savers brand to Darrell Lea in Australia.

The sale of these brands will result in up to 55 redundancies from Wiri factory, but RJ’s is helping to identify opportunities for redundant workers.

Earlier in July, Nestlé announced it was committed to using certified sustainable palm oil in all its products by 2023.

Nestlé’s global head of responsible sourcing Benjamin Ware said transparency in Nestlé’s supply chain had always been a priority.

“Nestlé has always been committed to implementing responsible sourcing and has made significant progress towards our commitment to using fully responsibly sourced palm oil,” he said.

“Nestlé supports RSPO’s role in driving industry wide change and appreciates its decision following the submission of our action plan, which focuses on increasing traceability primarily through segregated RSPO palm oil,” said Ware.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil reinstated Nestlé’s membership following its time-bound action plan to achieve 100 per cent RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

 

Picking your own box of chocolates – no longer a pipe dream

By Siemens

It’s not available commercially but to demonstrate what the future might hold, a chocolate manufacturer in Switzerland (where else) has experimented by offering a bespoke box of chocolates that Forrest Gump would be happy with.

The production line’s robot enables consumers to order its chocolates any time from any where via Twitter. You can order, for example, three mini bars of dark chocolate and several with nuts and fill the rest of the package with milk chocolate. No white chocolate to be seen. The container is labelled, provided with the necessary product declaration, sealed and shipped to the consumer.

The flexible pick system is an “innovation kit” for Chocolat Frey in Germany and part of experimenting with the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 as it is being dubbed. The company has collaborated with a leading university, the University for Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), packaging specialist Pacvois, automation partner Autexis Holding AG and Siemens using its MindSphere open cloud ecosystem.

“As a university, it’s our job to identify new possibilities and point out where the journey could take us,” says Markus Krack, Head of Technology Transfer FITT at the School of Engineering at the university.

“The system is intended to provide an experience,” Krack explains. “We therefore chose a product and a problem that everyone knows: chocolate!”

The process is currently very expensive because Chocolat Frey is orientated to mass production and individual orders are packaged by hand.

The flexible pick system was financed by the university. “Producing the system was quite a feat,” Krack said. “Everyone pulled together. Even our professors did some of the programming, which doesn’t happen very often.” The partners relied primarily on products and solutions from Siemens. “We used MindSphere, the open cloud ecosystem from Siemens, on which our proprietary Autexis apps can run,” says Philippe Ramseier, the owner of Autexis.

The MindConnect hardware component collects the data from sensors and actuators and transmits it to the MindSphere cloud. A Simatic S7-1500 controller controls the Kuka robot using the TIA Portal library. This significantly simplifies the robot engineering, since the engineer only has to be familiar with the TIA Portal.

Siemens provides an extensive sample application for this purpose, which contains the robot program and the HMI images. The robot path points can thus be taught from a Simatic mobile panel (KTP900F), which gives a common look and feel to the way the machine and robot operate.

Autexis has been working with products from Siemens almost exclusively for 35 years. “This strategy has proven to be successful,” says Ramseier. Thanks to this long-lasting partnership, and by sharing ideas openly with Siemens on a basis of mutual trust, Autexis can apply itself to the development of new products and services.

This is also a good choice for Krack and the university. “Siemens is cutting-edge in the industrial environment. Our students must be able to deal with that.”

The Autexis project team also implemented new services for the Hannover Messe. Inventories or operating data from the robot can be made visible directly on the flexible pick system. “A personalised label gives customers with augmented reality additional information on the product, like the origin of the chocolate and the calories in each item in the assortment,” Ramseier says.

“The system can be expanded almost infinitely,” he adds. “For example, we can integrate the warehouse. If the inventory of mini bars falls below a minimum level, an order is automatically triggered.”

The customer’s preferences and ordering habits can be analysed using the data collected by the flexible pick system. Who likes what chocolate? Who orders chocolate and when? Does customer behaviour depend on the weather? “A customer who orders an especially large amount of chocolate could be sent a fitness studio brochure,” Krack says with a chuckle. And then adds, “Data protection is important to us.”

The flexible pick system is an “innovation kit” for Chocolat Frey, so it can be used to test processes. The results obtained can flow into the operational process later on. Krack also has a lot of praise for the project. “Of course, the research is also aimed at expanding the flexible pick system and developing more processes. As a university, it’s our job to identify new possibilities and point out where the journey could take us.”

Learn how Siemens is helping the Food & Beverage industry adapt to technological change at Digitalize 2018, Siemens’ annual digitalization conference, which will be held in Melbourne on Wednesday, 8 August 2018. For more details and to register, visit www.siemensdigitalize2018.com

Nestlé joins Global Coalition to advance animal welfare standards

Nestlé and six other food companies have joined forces, through the Global Coalition for Animal Welfare, to advance welfare standards throughout the global food supply chain.

The global coalition is an industry-led collaboration uniting major companies and animal welfare experts to work towards improving standard for animals.

Other companies in the coalition include Unilever, Ikea Food Services, Aramark, Compass Group, Elior Group and Sodexo.

Nestlé hopes to accelerate the development of standards and progress on key welfare issues.

The global coalition aims to publish a collective action agenda in the first half of 2019, focusing on five priority work streams, including cage free policies and improved broiler chicken welfare.

READ: Nestlé pledges to use only certified sustainable palm oil within five years

In 2017, Nestlé announced that it will only source cage free eggs for all its food products globally by 2025.

Ensuring decent farm animal welfare standard in the company’s supply chain us a key focus.

Nestlé’s half-year results have also been released. The results show increased momentum in the United States and China, as well as in infant nutrition.

There has been an organic growth of 2.8 per cent.

Total sales increased by 2.3 per cent, to 43.9 billion Swiss Francs (CHF), compared to the previous half-yearly results.

Earnings per share increased by 21.4 per cent to CHF 1.92 on a reported basis.

Free cash flow increased by 52 per cent, from CHF 1.9 billion to CHF 2.9 billion.

Nestlé CEO said Mark Schneider said the first half results confirmed that Nestlé’s strategic initiatives and rigorous execution were paying off.

“Nestlé has maintained the encouraging organic revenue growth momentum we saw at the beginning of the year. In particular, the United States and China markets showed a meaningful improvement. We were also pleased by the enhanced organic growth in our core infant nutrition category,” he said.

Looking towards the second half of 2018, there would be further improvement in organic revenue growth, he said.

“Margin improvement is expected to accelerate with further benefits from our efficiency programs and more favorable commodity pricing,” said Schneider.

 

Shift in rankings of companies listed in Rabobank Global Dairy Top 20

For the second consecutive year, there are no new entrants to the Rabobank’s Dairy Top 20 list, but there’s been a slight shuffle in rankings.

The world’s largest food and beverage company, Switzerland’s Nestlé, reigns supreme on the list, but the gap between number one and number two has narrowed.

French Lactalis swapped places with Danone, moving into second place.

Danone slipped to the third spot, after divesting Stonyfield following the acquisition of WhiteWave, reducing its stake in Yakult, and selling its holdings in the Al Safi Danone joint venture in Saudi Arabia.

READ: Nestlé pledges to use only certified sustainable palm oil within five years

Dairy price recovery in 2017 has positively affected the combined turnover of the top 20 global dairy companies, which was up 7.2 per cent on the year in USD, RaboResearch has shown.

Dairy senior analyst Peter Paul Coppes said the USD five billion threshold was difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers.

“However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.”

Merger-and-acquisition (M&A) activity in the dairy sector grew in 2017, fuelled – as in other sectors – by the availability of cheap capital.

Cooperatives are still dominating, but they are also challenged. Deals between Danone and WhiteWave, and Saputo and Murray Goulburn, had limited impact on rankings within the Global Dairy Top 20.

While M&A occurs in the dairy sector, dairy acquisitions tend to be limited in size and financial impact.

There is potential for growth within increased collaborations between Chinese and non-Chinese companies. If this happens, China has the potential to create a pipeline of global management talent.

Chinese companies need to address the integration of non-Chinese management as they consider global growth opportunities.

Rabobank sees an increased amount of disruption-based M&A deals, either defensive or opportunistic.

By nature, these deals are often small and involve start-ups, but they are growing in volume.

Nestlé pledges to use only certified sustainable palm oil within five years

Well known chocolate manufacturer Nestlé is committed to using certified sustainable palm oil in all its products by 2023.

On Monday, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO ) reinstated Nestlé’s membership following its time-bound action plan to achieve 100 per cent RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

RSPO and Nestlé’s vision is to transform the palm oil industry for a sustainable future.

In a bid to achieve this they believe the entire industry needs to be more transparent and inclusive.

Achieving this also requires direct supply chain engagement and capacity building throughout the supply chain.

Nestlé’s global head of responsible sourcing Benjamin Ware said transparency in Nestlé’s supply chain had always been a priority.

“Nestlé has always been committed to implementing responsible sourcing and has made significant progress towards our commitment to using fully responsibly sourced palm oil.

“Nestlé supports RSPO’s role in driving industry wide change and appreciates its decision following the submission of our action plan, which focuses on increasing traceability primarily through segregated RSPO palm oil.

“This builds on Nestlé’s ongoing activities to achieve a traceable and responsibly sourced palm oil supply chain.”

Nestlé would play a leading role within RSPO by participating in working groups and sharing its experiences in addressing some of the critical environmental and socio-economic challenges affecting the sector, said Ware.

“In line with the RSPO’s objectives, this work will focus on preventing deforestation, particularly the protection of peatland and high-carbon stock land, as well as respecting human rights across the value chain,” said Ware.

RSPO CEO Darrel Webber said when joining RSPO all members made a commitment to transform the palm oil industry.

“Nestlé has pledged to step up their efforts in working actively on solutions within the RSPO system, via active participation.

“It’s with this in mind that we are welcoming Nestlé back to the Roundtable, confident they will live up to our membership obligations and succeed in delivering on their time-bound plan. We trust that by working collectively we are able to realise a sustainable, respectful and responsible palm oil industry.”

Global Easter egg launches up on last year

When it comes to chocolate eggs, bunnies and other treats, it seems there has never been so much choice for chocolate lovers around the world.

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), there has been a delicious 23% rise in Easter chocolate launches over the past year* providing a plethora of chocolate choice for Easter egg hunts across the globe. The countries leading the way in Easter chocolate innovation include Brazil, which accounted for 11% of global Easter chocolate product launches in 2017, followed by the UK, South Africa, Germany (each with a 10% share) and France (9%).

Reflecting the importance of seasonal products as a whole, in 2017, almost a quarter (23%) of global chocolate launches were positioned as seasonal, such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

Overall, the US and Germany lead in terms of total chocolate new product development (NPD), each accounting for 8% of new product launches in 2017. This is followed by France (7%), the UK (5%) and Brazil (4%).

Marcia Mogelonsky, Director of Insight, Mintel Food and Drink, said:

“Easter represents one of those ‘permissible indulgence’ moments where consumers enjoy giving and receiving chocolate treats. The holiday also marks a time for increased innovation in confectionery as consumers seek new and novel products. In the UK, for example, Easter eggs flavoured with beer or stout, which were the rage in past years, have given way to new alternatives such as gin-and-tonic flavoured eggs. In Germany, the introduction of vegan Easter bunnies and eggs reflects the growing popularity of a plant-based diet in that country.”

Brits top of the chocs

Across the globe, it seems no one loves chocolate quite as much as the Brits. The average Brit devoured 8.4 kg worth of chocolate in 2017. Hot on the heels of the Brits, Switzerland consumed 8.3kg, closely followed by Germany at 8.2kg. Within the top 10 chocolate per capita consumers, Russia experienced the biggest increase at 2.2%; meanwhile, Austria reported the sharpest decline at -1.9%.

Consumers ditch calories in favour of a permissible bite

While the lure of chocolate remains strong, it seems many consumers are enjoying it with an element of self control. According to Mintel GNPD, global launches of chocolate products described as “bites” have grown 50% over the past five years; with “thins” not far behind, increasing 48% over the same period.

But just as bite-sized formats are increasing in popularity, consumers are losing their appetite for “light” versions of confectionery (such as low-sugar or low-fat varieties). Launches of products described as “light” fell by 22% between 2013 and 2017.

“The growth of bite-sized chocolate points to the ongoing trend of permissible indulgence. Pre-measured, 100 calorie packs of chocolate or other treats have fallen from favour as consumers move away from diets that focus on strict calorie counts. Offering consumers a ‘bite’ or a ‘thin’ piece of chocolate provides an easier way to measure intake, and one that allows for a bit of wiggle room,” adds Marcia.

Strong interest in vegan chocolate confectionery

Mintel research highlights considerable potential for vegan chocolate across Europe. More than half of chocolate eaters in Spain (55%), France (53% ) and Poland (53%) are interested in vegan chocolate, with their counterparts in Italy (48%) and Germany (44%) lagging only slightly behind. Vegan confectionery is also slowly being introduced into the UK: in 2017, 8% of chocolate launches in the UK were vegan.

“There’s currently a focus on plant-based eating in the chocolate sector. Manufacturers have responded to the growing interest in plant-based diets by replacing dairy milk with nut- or grain-derived milks in milk chocolate products. In some markets, this may be responding to a potential, but not yet articulated need,” Marcia concludes.

*March 2017-February 2018

Cadbury recalls some chocolate blocks because of plastic find

Chocolate maker Cadbury has recalled some Caramilk chocolate blocks because pieces of plastic have been found in some of them.

The company said in a statement the products affected are 190g Cadbury Caramilk chocolate block sold in Australia only with best before dates of 17/01/2019 and 21/01/2019.

The recalled product has been available for sale in Coles, Woolworths, IGA’s and independent retailers (VIC only) in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, TAS and WA.

Products containing plastic may cause minor injury if consumed. Analysis of the samples received to date has determined that this product does not appear to pose a serious health or food safety risk, but the quality and safety of our products, as well as our consumers, is our first priority and a recall has been initiated to prevent the risk of minor injury.

Affected product should not be consumed and should be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund – no proof-of-purchase is required.

No other Mondelēz International or Cadbury brand or product is affected. Cadbury Caramilk

products sold in New Zealand and all other Caramilk products sold in Australia with different best before dates, are not affected by this recall.

Consumers are asked to call our consumer relations centre on 1800 034 241 if they have any further inquiries.

 

Iconic Violet Crumble returns to Australian hands

Nestlé Australia  has entered into an agreement with Adelaide-based family business Robern Menz to sell the Violet Crumble brand for an undisclosed sum. Under the sale, Robern Menz will acquire the brand and its associated intellectual property, plant and equipment.

Nestlé General Manager Confectionery, Martin Brown said: “The sale of the Violet Crumble brand to Robern Menz recognises that they are well positioned to combine their existing honeycomb manufacturing with that of Violet Crumble and continue to invest behind this well-loved brand.

“We are delighted that the history and tradition of this iconic Australia brand will continue under the ownership of a strong, Australian owned business.

Robern Menz CEO, Phil Sims said the company is excited to have partnered with Nestlé and reached an agreement to acquire what is undoubtedly one of Australia’s great brands.

“As the new gatekeeper of Violet Crumble, we are aware of the responsibility that comes along with owning a brand so highly regarded in the Australian market place,” he said.

“We are fiercely passionate about Australian brands and with a significant honeycomb business of our own, the opportunity was too good to pass on. With our expertise, we can ensure that Violet Crumble is produced with no change to the recipe, and with the same passion and affinity Australians have had towards the brand since 1913.”

Manufacture will transfer to the Robern Menz factory in Adelaide, South Australia in the coming months. The product has been manufactured at the Nestlé factory in Campbellfield, Melbourne since 1983. There will be no changes to staffing at the Nestlé factory. Nestlé invested $8m in the factory in 2017 to grow key locally manufactured chocolate brands and support growing KitKat exports.

Crowd funding secures Kiwi chocolate factory

In less than two days New Zealanders have opened their wallets and purchased Dunedin-based chocolate company OCHO, championing a new people-led model of regional development.

3570 people from across New Zealand purchased shares to the value of NZ$2,000,000 which will allow the company to expand it production and create new jobs.

This community-driven initiative began as a response to Mondelez announcing it planned to close Dunedin’s Cadbury factory. Initially Jim O’Malley and a team of volunteers aimed to purchase the Cadbury factory to keep confectionery production in the city. However, ‘Own the Factory’ has advanced its strategy to focus on premium chocolate-making, joining forces with independently owned OCHO and in the process developing a model for community business ownership to contribute to regional development.

Campaign leader Jim O’Malley said people had spoken to him about investing in OCHO to ensure Dunedin retained its proud history of chocolate production. They also wanted to enable new jobs in the city.

“We achieved our aim of attracting multiple shareholders and are delighted to have more than 3700 owners,” he said.

He said the offer was different to usual shares as it limited the total any one person could own to 11 per cent so that no single investor could dominate. The constitution also prevents OCHO moving its production outside of Dunedin.

OCHO founder Liz Rowe, who is the General Manager of the new company, says the first task will be ordering new chocolate production equipment from Italy. Once the order is confirmed planning will start on fitting out a new OCHO chocolate factory in Dunedin’s Steamer Basin.

“New equipment and a larger facility will enable us to expand our production from 90kg of chocolate a week to up to a maximum of 200kg a day,” she said.

OCHO’s plan for the first year is to focus on increasing production. Once that has been achieved the company will develop a tourism component with a factory tour and chocolate tastings. The third phase of its strategy is developing export markets.

 

Swiss invent new pink chocolate

Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has come up with a new type of chocolate ‘Ruby’ which is made from the Ruby cocoa bean. Ruby chocolate has an intense taste and characteristic pinkish colour.

The Ruby bean is unique because the fresh berry-fruitiness and colour precursors are naturally present. The cocoa beans are sourced from different regions of the world. The bean has a specific set of attributes, which Barry Callebaut managed to unlock through an innovative process that took many years to develop.

According to quantitative research performed by independent international market and consumer agency Haystack, Ruby chocolate meets a consumer need no chocolate ever did before. It’s expected that Ruby, like Dark, Milk and White chocolates will be introduced in different product categories.

The invention of Ruby chocolate is the work of global R&D centers of Barry Callebaut, based in France and Belgium – part of a global network of 28 R&D centers- , the Jacobs University, and over 175 years of expertise in sourcing and manufacturing.

The fourth type in chocolate offers a totally new taste experience, which is not bitter, milky or sweet, but a tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness. To create Ruby chocolate no berries or berry flavor, nor color, is added.

Ruby chocolate has been tested and validated through extensive consumer research run by independent global research agencies Haystack and Ipsos in the UK, US, China and Japan.

As part of these studies, Ruby’s consumer appeal and purchase intent have been tested, indicating consumers would buy Ruby chocolate at different price points.

 

Cadbury cuts 50 jobs in Tasmania

Fifty workers from Cadbury’s Hobart factory will lose their jobs as the chocolate maker spends $75 million to upgrade the facility.

The job losses represent more than 10 per cent of its Hobart workforce. The company’s parent Mondelez said in a statement most of the job losses, which will happen before the end of the year, are likely to be voluntary redundancies.

“Our team here has worked hard to help us become more efficient, cut costs and improve our competitiveness and as a result, we’ve reduced the cost of converting raw materials into a block of chocolate by 12 per cent,” said Amanda Banfield, Area Vice President.

“But while progress has been made, increasing local and global competition, low domestic growth, rising costs, and Australia’s distance from overseas markets make it difficult to compete against the likes of European factories with lower costs.

“To remain competitive, we need to improve our conversion costs by 30 per cent, plus continue to raise the bar as competition increases further.”

The company said it will realise more efficiencies through investment in new technologies, equipment and automation, plus increase the skills and capabilities of its people and ensure its teams are the right size.

The $75 million upgrade will take place over the next 18 months.

 

New factory for Haigh’s Chocolates

Haigh’s Chocolates will spend more than $10 million on a new state-of-the-art chocolate processing plant at Mile End. The upgrade is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

As the business remains committed to its bean to bar artisan production methods, without disrupting supply, the new facility will utilise the latest machinery, technology and software.

The fourth-generation business will focus on ensuring it can meet increasing interest and demand across its eastern seaboard stores as well as online.

Since launching in Adelaide in 1915, Haigh’s has expanded to operate stores across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and online.

Haigh’s Chocolates has since announced it will also unveil its seventh store on Elizabeth Street Melbourne later this year, just in time for Christmas. This will mark the 16th store for Haigh’s Chocolates.

Haigh’s Chocolates is committed to the art of premium chocolate making from the raw cocoa bean. It holds international UTZ certification for ethical and sustainable practices.

Annual turnover in the past six years has grown to over $50 million with production increasing to 750 tonne last year.

Kitkat Secret Garden

Kitkat has collaborated with former MasterChef contestant, Reynold Poernomo, to craft a limited edition chocolate dessert – Kitkat Secret Garden.

Using his expertise and passion for innovative sweet treats, Rey’s latest creation celebrates three flavour combinations from the new ‘Inspired By KitKat Chocolatory’ range.

The three new flavours – Mint Cream & Cookie Smash, Caramel Burst & Sea Salt and Espresso Biscuit & Ganache – have been influenced by popular bespoke creations made in the Kitkat Chocolatory in Melbourne.

The dessert features a large gold-dusted chocolate sphere which can be literally smashed open, to reveal the decadent layers within.

The dessert is served with Kitkat Espresso Biscuit & Ganache gelato and a nitrogen mousse, topped with micro mint and chocolate crumble.

The  range is available now in 140g block format at Coles and independent retailers including IGA.

 

Mars launches M&M’S Block chocolate range

Australians are set to become the first in the world to taste the new M&M’S Block chocolate range.

This chocolate innovation will combine M&M’S with smooth milk chocolate crafted from the finest ingredients, in six varieties – Milk, Almond, Hazelnut, Crispy, Crispy Mint and Strawberry.

The new range will tempt chocolate lovers, by bringing the iconic brand to Australia’s favourite chocolate segment. It will be available in all major supermarkets and convenience stores from Monday 24 April.