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Final Proof: Cocoa must-haves are health and sustainability

Modern-day studies show positive association between cocoa and heart health


February 10, 2022
By Jane Dummer

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PHOTO © Melica / Adobe stock

Consumers are aware of the impact their food choices have on health and wellness. The global health crisis has emphasized the behaviour of pursuing functional, wholesome ingredients that signal a health halo, not only for them but for the planet. 

Cocoa is one of those ingredients. Cocoa contains several antioxidants, including flavonoids. It has long been associated with the heart – both heart health and, historically, love. Modern-day studies show there is a positive association between cocoa and heart health. Cocoa also contains small amounts of caffeine and theobromine, mild mood and energy boosting stimulants. 

Therefore, emerging evidence suggests the consumption of cocoa may be beneficial to cognitive performance and mood. When it comes to the impact on the planet, the cocoa industry is working diligently to improve numerous factors and inputs committed to sustainability. All especially important as consumers continue to make buying decisions based on their own health needs, along with the planet’s. 

Jenna Derhammer, R&D Corporate Manager – Innovation at Blommer Chocolate Company, describes some of the key health attributes bakeries are requesting when purchasing cocoa ingredients: “Sugar content is one of the biggest concerns for our customers. Balancing the flavour and decadence with low or no sugar is a challenge, but one we have been researching for years and [for which we] have developed several excellent solutions. Another request is enhancing the nutrition label by increasing protein or fibre content. The challenge there is getting the balance of texture, flavour and nutritional needs. We have years of experience developing such products. As a result, we know which levers to pull that strike the right balance. Bakeries are looking for clean and simple with a big hit of cocoa. 

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“Blommer has the Sensible Indulgence line that has flavourful product solutions to fit different applications and nutritional needs. Our line has drops and enrobing coatings that bakers can use to add the rich taste of chocolate to their products and that allow the consumer to indulge sensibly. Also, we have Proteos 30™, a line of great-tasting coatings that contain 30 per cent protein. Milk protein isolate is the protein source, which is a complete protein. Through special formulation and processing, we can achieve an incredible 30 per cent protein level in the finished coating that tastes amazing and boosts the nutritional value of a bakery’s finished product.”

Addressing planetary health is a must-have for many food ingredients across all sectors. Consumers seek transparency and information about the company’s (and on a larger scale the industry’s) practices from human rights to supply-chain concerns. The cocoa industry recognizes this and is working on solutions to improve the social and environmental impacts of its methods. Andy Harner, Vice-President of Sustainability at Blommer Chocolate Company, agrees. 

“Consumers are increasingly more aware of the impacts of the food they eat. They want to align their eating habits with their values. Therefore, traceability and transparency are tools that give consumers confidence in their choices. The goal is to guarantee our customers that the products they buy are made with cocoa grown in an environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable way. To address those issues, we have been working closely with the main cocoa certifications, Fairtrade International, Fairtrade USA, Rainforest Alliance (now merged with UTZ) for a long time. Plus, we have developed our own sustainability program called Sustainable Origins™. 

“To further promote sustainable cocoa supply chains, Fuji Oil Holdings (our parent company) announced two ambitious commitments in 2020: eliminate child labour from our direct cocoa supply chain and plant one million forest and fruit trees in cocoa growing areas affected by deforestation by 2030. Over the years, our sustainability programs have contributed to building or rehabilitating classrooms, school libraries, school canteens, health centres, and maternity wards. We’ve built water pumps, provided literacy classes to women, distributed school kits, supported the construction of vegetable greenhouses and the creation of businesses. We will continue to actively contribute to pre-competitive initiatives through the World Cocoa Foundation and other organizations.”

It is apparent today’s consumer is concerned not only about their physical and mental health but also about the planet’s health. Cocoa is a go-to in the baking industry. A purposeful indulgence with the power to fuel both human and planet health.


Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. janedummer.com