Eyeing innovation opportunities in dairy-free chocolate

Chocolate and fillings on table

With consumer interest in products that promote healthy indulgence continuing to rise, the BENEO-Technology Center is eyeing innovation opportunities in the fields of bakery and dairy-free chocolate. Together with the sugar division of BENEO’s parent company Südzucker, the R&D food application laboratory in Tienen, Belgium, has been extended to bring chocolate and bakery applications to the next level.

For the first time, the BENEO-Technology Center team will benefit from new equipment that enables the production of chocolate in-house. As chocolate production is a very sensitive process, the newly installed equipment includes control systems for humidity and temperature. In addition, the laboratory dedicated to bakery applications has gained more space and new equipment, including a proofing chamber and new ovens, allowing the team to perform more product trials with even greater accuracy.

Seven out of ten consumers now say that they wish they had healthier options available across indulgent food and drink categories . In addition, many consumers now make vegan choices for the perceived health benefits and sustainability credentials of these products. As a result, there are major opportunities for products that promote permissible indulgence, thanks to planet-friendly offerings, through plant-based solutions that offer high protein content and low or light positionings.

As customer demand for support on product development that caters to these trends continues to grow, the laboratory expansion will enable BENEO expand its focus in this area. At the same time, it will also help to improve its service of customer projects, to provide the highest possible quality of work using state of the art equipment.

This presents a huge scope for developing future ingredient solutions. In the first instance, the focus will be on chocolate applications, especially with regard to developing solutions for dairy free ‘milk’ chocolate using BENEO’s rice ingredients. Alongside that, the laboratory team will be looking into sugar reduced or no added sugar chocolate, as well as fat-based fillings, using chicory root fibres and/or isomalt.

The BENEO-Technology Center already has a broad and well-established network of external partners, including many experts that have supported in the development and production of chocolate application samples before BENEO had its own lab. While benefitting from this new facility, the BENEO team will continue to work with their long-standing partners, as only by working with this team of experts it is feasible to create the best possible products and solutions to meet the needs of BENEO’s customers and their end consumers.

By combining forces with the sugar division of BENEO’s parent company, Südzucker, the Group can centralise all its food expertise. Sugar is a key ingredient in chocolate manufacturing, affecting taste and texture in dairy free and sugar reduced formulations. The sugar division at Südzucker is currently working on the development of new sugars with additional benefits that complement and combine well with different BENEO ingredients, which will open up even further scope for innovative product solutions in confectionery and bakery applications.

BENEO has a very unique chain of expertise that is made up of heavy investment in R&D, the food application team at the BENEO-Technology Center, customer technical support team, as well as market research and consumer insights. As a result, the company prides itself on always having one finger on the pulse of new and emerging trends so that the right combinations of ingredient solutions can be developed to help customers tap into fresh opportunities.