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Confectionery ingredients and innovation

Chocolate and soft confectionery innovations

Creative new concepts in confectionery, as well as the innovative application of its ingredients, continue to satisfy consumers' infinite pursuit of sweetness, fun and health, and keeps bringing sustainable vitality to the confectionery market. Soft sugar confectionery and chocolate are undoubtedly the most active categories. They are usually synonymous of high quality sweets due to more innovation in colours, flavours and textures. A higher quality of natural raw materials in these types of products is certain to represent their value and be recognised by consumers. In addition to high quality raw materials, the claim of being carefully hand crafted is added by many of such high-end products to highlight the differentiation of their products and attract consumers.

Products with innovative concepts continue to be most active part in the market, such as the redefinition of sweetness and the expansion of sweet ingredients; introduction of being free from artificial colours and sweeteners; functional concepts such as sleep-aid peptide candy, probiotic candy for digestive health, jellies with citrus fibres, healthy candy for females and concepts of botanical antioxidants. Consumers strongly demand natural alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners. This has encouraged manufacturers to gain a deeper understanding of sweetness, to develop more products reduced in sugar or using naturally sourced sweeteners such as stevia. Function-based concept innovation is no longer limited to the benefits for a single aspect - more products are launched that combine oral and digestive health, to create new product types with richer content.

Consumers' concerns about animal-derived raw materials have inspired developers to use plant based ingredients including coconut milk, soy milk and special vegetable oils in replacement of milk and cream; or carrageenan to mimic the texture of gelatine, for vegan or vegetarian diets.

Novel application of ingredients has driven the development of new products, including improvement on both texture and flavour. The application of gellan gum in candy is being continuously expanded due to the rejection or abandoning of traditional hydrocolloids such as gelatine by consumers, and on the other hand, a new understanding of the functional effects of gellan gum in candy by R&D teams. Based on gellan gum, a new soft candy product with an innovative texture could be made through flexible combination with other hydrocolloids, for instance locust bean gum and xanthan gum. Meanwhile, pectin jellies continue to flourish, bringing consumers endless fun with a wonderful combination of fruit flavours and chewing pleasure. At the same time, pectin and gellan gum have significantly improved mouth feel and thermal stability of traditional gelatine jellies, and the combination of such hydrocolloids is increasingly seen amongst new product launches in the market.

Manufacturers continue to pursue novel flavours, seeking regional taste experiences for variety. This includes concepts from plants such as matcha green tea powder, unusual nuts, spices or local fruits, as well as the fresh natural taste represented by fermentation, to name just a few.

With clearer differentiation of consumption levels in the confectionery market, high quality soft candies and chocolate products are always the most popular choices. These categories occupy a higher market share in the Asia Pacific region, especially China, and is likely to increase in popularity even further. The development of new products is no longer limited to traditional raw materials - novel ingredients and exotic flavours are boldly used, with layer-based combinations, to tell consumers a new sweet story.

By Ding Yuantao, Technical Manager at Azelis (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.

Published in Food & Beverage News, March 2019

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