AAK has developed Illexao, a range of fats suitable for making a compound to replace up to 100% of the free cocoa butter in a chocolate recipe.
The main fat phase of the compound comprises vegetable fats with a similar composition to cocoa butter. This means its compatible with cocoa butter, which will allow chocolate manufacturers to use it in their products to while continuing to add cocoa mass to their formulations. The compound reportedly 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 adding saturated and trans fats. Technical difficulties such as these have therefore limited the use of compounds largely to chocolate coatings.
However, using AAK’s Illexao range to replace some or all of the cocoa butter in the chocolate recipe, it is possible to produce what the company calls a super compound. This overcomes the obstacles, giving manufacturers the opportunity to create chocolate with appropriate sensory properties and clean label credentials while saving 10-40% of ingredient costs, AAK says. The exact amount of savings will depend on the recipe and raw material costs.
The company lists additional benefits including increased scope for customisation and improved shelf stability, bloom resistance and shape retention.
Marco Oomen, AAK’s Global Business Director for Chocolate & Confectionery Fats, said: “Our research shows that the taste of chocolate is by far the most important factor for consumers. This makes it important not to cut costs at the expense of taste by using ingredients that are cheaper than cocoa butter but inferior in terms of performance. 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.”
He continued: “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, dull 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.”
AAK’s standard compound solution is a blend of shea butter and palm oil. Alternative exotic fats can be incorporated in line with the chocolate manufacturer’s preferences. “Based on AAK’s Customer Co-Development approach, super compounds can be developed for all needs,” said Marco Oomen. “That’s a major plus at a time of uncertainty on global markets, and it’s perfect for budget-aware consumers who demand premium solutions and increasingly prefer to shop online.”