“Our goal is to help our customers face the challenges the markets throw at them. In light of volatile cocoa pricing and supply issues, many of our customers are looking for solutions which reduce the cocoa content of their products as a means of controlling recipe costs, while maintaining the same properties and quality of the full cocoa product,” Kerstin Werner, head of business development at Tate & Lyle Food Systems, told BakeryAndSnacks.com.
Developing a range of carob ingredients to address these issues was a logical move for Tate & Lyle, as the company already produces locust bean gum from carob at its plant in Noto, Sicily.
“This meant we had the possibility to use the pulp and produce carob powder, in order to use it as a cocoa replacer and help our customers reduce their recipe costs,” explained Werner.
It is not the first time the roasted pods of the carob tree, native to the Middle East, have been touted as a cocoa replacer; for years diabetics have consumed carob as a chocolate substitute and in the Middle East, the pods are chewed raw and are used as animal feed.
However, it has not managed to break into the added value industrial ingredient arena, perhaps because of these associations.
Specialty status bid
In launching CARCAO, Tate & Lyle says its aim is to elevate the ingredient to speciality status.
“We want to differentiate carob and position it as a speciality food ingredient, and for that we provide a complete service with the ingredient, including recipe management and technical back up,” said Werner.
Another factor which may have thwarted carob’s use as a mainstream cocoa replacer is that it does not taste exactly like chocolate.
Tate & Lyle is mindful of this, saying: “CARCAO carob powder can only be used to a certain amount if you wish to keep the same taste profile as your original product.”
Nevertheless, it says that in application studies it has managed to replace between 20 and 40 per cent of the cocoa in the recipe.
The level of cocoa replacement is not just dictated by taste, either, as Werner pointed out:
“It also depends on the regulation; in order to use the term ‘chocolate’ for the final product, you need to have a certain amount of cocoa in your recipe.”
The cost savings that can be accrued by replacing cocoa with CARCAO are likely to prove a strong incentive for potential customers. In chocolate mousse, for example, Tate & Lyle says it has achieved a 26 per cent cost reduction on cocoa and a reduction of five per cent on the overall recipe cost.