Walking through the candy aisle at your local supermarket, you might be tempted to think the chocolate industry is simply flooded. Surely there is no way to expand on the already numerous options.
But you would be wrong, very wrong. No dip in the economy is going to melt this ever-inventive industry as it continues to meet chocolate-buyers’ concerns over environmental and social-justice issues.
We may see several new types of chocolate in the coming year:
- Single-origin chocolate, which is made with cacao exclusively from one region (Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Madagascar, etc.)
- More organic chocolate, which uses beans grown to organic standards, using no pesticides or harmful toxins.
- Fair-trade chocolate, which ensures that cocoa growers get fair prices and fair treatment for their beans.
- Sustainable chocolates, which are grown with methods that ensure sustainable re-growth of cocoa beans
Finally, a responsible way to enjoy chocolate.
With so many chocolates to choose from, it’s no wonder chocolate pairings are becoming the new wine tastings. Companies are starting to test unexpected pairings of chocolate with wines, cheese, spices, exotic flavors, and fruits not used in the past.
Appealing to the students of chocolate, who are engaged in a life-long course of study, several retailers and restaurants have begun chocolate tastings and chocolate schools. Café Zooka in Hershey, Pennsylvania offers courses to educate visitors on chocolate as well as chocolate tasting. Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges (see link below) have added tastings to some of their stores in Illinois and Nevada.
Chocolate companies see a promising opportunity in this field. In the coming years, the industry is expecting an explosion of this kind of offering. For consumers, it is a fun and educational way to taste chocolate.
In 2009 the National Confectioners Association came out with a report showing that it believes future trends with chocolate will capitalize on health benefits, flavor fusions, and international influences. Flavor fusions use ingredients that unexpectedly complement each other, such as milk chocolate, caramel, and sea salt. Another potential is the fusion of exotic spices. International recipes are experimenting with the combination of chocolate and chilis or chocolate and wasabi.
Long gone are the days when your only options for chocolate came at the vending machine. Consumers are beginning to demand more from their chocolate experience. Chocolate makers are looking to meet your needs and offer ways to make chocolate even more appealing—if that’s even possible.
For more information on the sources presented here please see:
The National Confectioners Association
The Gourmet Retailer 2008 Trend Report
To see more about the tasting or educational opportunities listed please see: