The new business, Olam Cocoa for Professionals, is a response to rising demand from professional chefs and bakers for high quality cocoa ingredients that give them greater control over the flavour and colour of their final creations, the company said.
Although the gourmet side of the confectionery industry has been hit hardest by the pandemic, Simon Brayn-Smith, business head of Olam Cocoa for Professionals, said he is seeing signs that demand is returning to, and even exceeding, pre-lockdown levels, and caterers are looking at ways on how to attract people back to their business.
A third of consumers (29%) questioned in August by Opinium on behalf of Olam Cocoa said they are now seeking out artisanal food and drink, and a similar number (28%) plan to visit professional bakeries, patisseries and restaurants more often than they did before lockdown.
“Launching Cocoa for Professionals right now is not the worst time because we see chefs who have used this period to be innovative and creative in their kitchens and dive deeper into their food in a way they haven’t been able to before.
“One of the big things we are trying to do is create cocoa as a new category and get chefs thinking about how to use cocoa in ways they haven’t in the past, we hope deZaan for professionals will inspire them … because with cocoa you are going back to the base ingredient,” he said.
deZaan cocoa powder is a 100-year-old Dutch brand, bought by Olam Cocoa in 2015. Previously, it has been sold as a bulk industrial product to big chocolate manufacturers only available in tonnes not kilos.
From this week, a range of six dutched and natural cocoa powders in different colours and flavours will be made available in 1kg and 5kg bags, giving professional chefs and bakers access to specialist cocoa ingredients previously only available to large companies.
Brayn-Smith said: “Up until now, professional chefs have had to make do with limited options. We want to change that. Olam Cocoa’s deZaan powders are incredibly versatile and made only with the finest cocoa beans and processing techniques. We hope that by making these available we can help inspire professionals to think again about how cocoa can be used in their creations.”
The new deZaan range is sourced responsibly through Olam Cocoa’s Cocoa Compass sustainability programme and will be available worldwide from distributor Henley Bridge, who work with a number of chocolatiers, gelato artists, bakers and chefs.