Making any kind of health claim on food products is big business these days. Health and wellness food and drinks sales are expected to grow from $601 billion in 2010 $691 billion in 2015, according to Euromonitor International.
But health claims aren’t just for health foods. In fact more and more, I see labels like gluten-free or high in fiber on sugary or high calories snacks that don’t typically fit into the health food genre. Such labels can help me and other consumers justify an indulgence for an otherwise not-so-healthy snack, like chocolate.
At least, that’s what European confectioner Barry Callebaut is hoping. The company, which is one of the biggest makers of chocolate candy, has requested approval from the European Food Safety Authority to put health labels on foods with dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains cocoa flavanols which can improve blood circulation. Flavanols may also reduce risk for heart disease and lower blood pressure. The benefits of dark chocolate are not a new discovery, but health labels on candy would definitely be new.
Since 2005 Callebaut has been collecting scientific evidence to support its health claims. The company also processes its chocolate in unconventional ways to preserve the flavanols. If approved by the European Food Safety Authority, Callebaut could use flavanol health claims on products sold in the EU for five years. For more information about cocoa health claims In Europe, refer to this Wall Street Journal article by Marta Falconi.
Other confectioners, such as The Hershey Company, Nestlé, and Kraft-owned Cadbury support Callebaut’s efforts. Health labels create new sales opportunities for confectioners including commanding a higher price tag and reaching health conscious consumers. Dark chocolate sales are already growing in areas like Italy and China, but health labels could further boost sales in countries that are lower consumers of chocolate, according to the Candy Manufacturing industry profile by First Research.