What's in your chocolate?

With the rising cost of raw materials, like cacao beans, political unrest along the Ivory Coast which produces 40% of the world's chocolate, and conflict in oil producing countries, it's no wonder that Nestle and other mass producers of chocolate confections are all too eager cut corners with the gold standard of chocolate. In 2007, the National Confectioners Association ( appealed to the FDA (Docket # 2007P-0085) to change the definition of what goes into chocolate, citing unfair competition by other country chocolate producers. The European Union allows up to 5% non-cocoa butter fats, like vegetable or soybean oil. This move is purely a financial one. Allowing the substitution of vegetable oil ($0.70/lb) for cocoa butter ($2.30/lb) and whey protein instead of dry whole milk would give US chocolate manufacturers an extreme competitive edge.

Last month cocoa futures averaged $3,472 per ton, rising from November 2010's average price of $2,910 per ton. This is how cocoa is trending today and it doesn't look good for consumers or producers:

Nestle started promoting an aerated chocolate product called Aero in the UK and Ireland this year, with a $24 million ad campaign to introduce textured aerated fillings (such as caramel and hazelnut) into some of its bars. If this ever comes to the US, how much fluff are you willing to pay extra for?

Related sites:

International Cocoa Organization
[PDF] FDA's Standards for High Quality Foods
Bloomberg's Businessweek, "Breathing More Profit into Chocolate Bars", 2/28-3/6/2011, p21
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