The company has done a soft launch recently, and will be officially unveiled at the upcoming Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco later this month with around 10,000 samples, Fink said.
Barry Callebaut introduced probiotic chocolate around 10 years ago, but large scale production is still relatively rare today.
250 million live spores per chocolate square
Fink said he had spent years developing a recipe that balances flavors and health benefits for his new chocolate products. He eventually found a high cocoa dark chocolate that is not bitter and works well with ingredients such as nuts, fruits, chia and probiotics.
“The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Program was suggesting our chocolate as a healthy snack, and I eventually reached out to them and partnered up on 12 products incorporating the dark chocolate,” Fink said. “They introduced me to Ganeden Biotech who makes the probiotic.”
When Blue Planet Chocolate launches at the show, it will start with six flavors, including cocoa nib, espresso, cinnamon chia and blueberry chia. The four varieties listed as examples are 0.33-ounce bite size squares with probiotics, and each of them contains approximately 250 million live spores.
The other two are pomegranate and baobab, and peach mango baobab, both of which are made with 100% real fruit bites covered in 72% dark chocolate. The chocolate is provided by Cargill, and baobab comes through Baobab Foods.
The increasing popularity of using probiotics in packaged foods
Chairman of CRN (Council for Responsible Nutrition) and IPA (International Probiotics Association) working group that developed their latest probiotic guidelines, David Keller, told ConfectioneryNews that a Ganeden-backed survey shows there is a high interest for probiotics in both the confectionery and snack categories, and that interest continues to grow exponentially.
He cited a survey conducted by data solutions firm SSI in 2015 that 50% of healthy consumers would pay 10% or more for candy products containing probiotics.
“There have been concerns voiced regarding a lack of transparency in functional foods and beverages, and dietary supplements, along with a desire from consumers and regulators to have a better understanding of what is contained in probiotic products being consumed. The guidelines help to increase both transparency and the overall quality of the industry. It is also a document that any interested parties, from regulators to consumers and purchasers, can use to better understand the details of the probiotics being used in the items they are purchasing.”
This site’s sister publication, BakeryandSnacks, also found during the Expo East last year in Baltimore, Maryland, that some snack companies have started taking advantage of probiotics after seeing the growing consumer interest, such as Luke’s Organic and Farmhouse Culture .
CEO of Farmhouse Culture, John Tucker, previously told BakeryandSnacks that snacks are an easier way to incorporate probiotics into people’s daily lives compared to pills.
CRN and IPA have announced voluntary guidelines that address labeling, stability testing, and storage recommendations for probiotic-containing functional foods, according to a release.
Some of the guidelines include that “the label should identify the genus, species, and strain for each microorganism in the product”.
“Previously, adding probiotics was a challenge due to the fact that most strains weren’t stable enough to survive manufacturing processes, shelf life and gastric transit, making it nearly impossible to formulate them into sweets or snacks,” Keller added.
“However, the unique spore-forming products, like Ganeden BC30 (which Blue Planet Chocolate uses), allow sweet and snack product manufacturers to incorporate probiotics into almost any product formulation in these categories with few challenges.”
Keller said the number of probiotic-fortified products will continue to increase across an array of categories, “with no end or slow-down in sight”.
Keller has also been working as the vice president of scientific operations at Ganeden since 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Applying probiotics guidelines to Blue Planet
While still managing Fantasy Candies, Fink is also busy calling brokers for distribution as well as preparing for tradeshows to promote Blue Planet.
He said he would study the new probiotics labeling guidelines by CRN and IPA, and consider applying the label to his chocolate products in the future.
“The strategy for next year is to do everything possible to make the brand known. Then, of course to place our product in the appropriate retail and online areas while working with other co-packers to plan for future expansion,” he said.