CarréLéon is the fruit of a student project several years ago that aimed to develop a healthy product that would ‘revolutionise’ cooking. Inspiration for the product came after co-founder Camille Bloch saw an advert for a chocolate bar on television and thought of using the familiar format with alternative ingredients.
The product, Carrés Futés (which translates as ‘Smart Bars’) keeps the cocoa butter as the oil base but replaces cocoa beans with whole, dehydrated vegetables.
The bars contain three to five ‘kitchen cupboard’ ingredients, have a smooth consistency like chocolate and are available in three flavours: tomato, pepper, basil & shallot; leek, celery & fennel; and carrot, beetroot & garlic.
All are free from preservatives, colour, salt or flavour enhancers.
CarréLéon scooped first prize in the pan-EU food innovation competition, Ecotrophelia, in 2016 for Carrés Futés, commercialising the product this year.
“The bars can be used like stock cubes in sauces, tarts and savoury foods but also in dips and salads. They’re also a lot healthier as the average stock cube contains between 60 to 70% salt," co-founder Maxime Thery told FoodNavigator at last week’s FoodUse Tech in Dijon.
“We’re targeting consumers who enjoy cooking but don’t have much time. They are looking for ingredients that are natural and tasty but also quick and practical to use. They allow people a certain creativity when cooking."
The bars can be grated directly into a hot dish, where the low-melting point of cocoa butter means they melt into the other ingredients, or melted with water, cream or milk in the microwave or on a hob before being added to a cold dish, such as a dip.
CarréLéon sources the vegetables from around France and 1 g of finished product contains the equivalent of between 10 and 20 g of fresh vegetables, depending on the water content of the fresh produce. Each bar packs in around 65% vegetables, providing between 10 and 20% fibre.
Thery said: “We haven’t done any testing on the final product to determine the vitamin content but the vegetables are dehydrated at a very low temperature which means they retain a lot of the nutrients.
“We aren’t aiming to replace fresh vegetables but these bars can add extra flavour notes of real vegetables. It’s about the pleasure of cooking and adding extra taste in the healthiest and most convenient way possible.”
It currently has retail listings in 25 Carrefour supermarkets in the greater Paris region and one LeClerc. This, coupled with sales from its online e-shop, means the company is currently shifting up to 1000 bars a month.
The cardboard pack opens like a book to display simple recipes on the inside while each bar is wrapped in a transparent, biodegradable and compostable sachet made from wood-based materials sourced from sustainably-managed forests.