THE HAGUE – Forget hot chocolate: a cold drink made from parts of the cacao fruit usually thrown away aims to lure health- and environmentally-conscious consumers.
The “Elix” drink unveiled Thursday by Swiss firm Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate maker, is part of a growing trend to use 100 percent of fruits in processed foods to reduce waste and pressure on the enviroment.
Typically, 70 percent of the cacao fruit including the peel, pulp and juice are discarded, with just the beans used to make chocolate.
“It has a very nice zesty, fruity flavour,” Barry Callebaut’s chief executive Peter Boone told AFP ahead of a launch event in Amsterdam. “But then it has an active health claim.”
The drink launches first in Europe where the EU’s food safety agency has backed claims that a substance in cacao called flavanols is beneficial to blood circulation.
Approval by the US Food and Drug Administration is “pending in spring 2022”, the company said.
Elix is the latest bid by the firm – which supplies food giants like Nestle, Unilever, and Mondelez – to develop new products as chocolate consumption in developed markets declines.
In 2017, Barry Callebaut unveiled a new pink type of chocolate, called ruby. In 2019, the company also launched a new type of chocolate using the whole fruit.
Efforts to use all the cocoa fruit follow criticism over the chocolate industry’s role in deforestation in top producers Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Environment group Mighty Earth in 2017 named Barry Callebaut among makers that had indirectly driven the loss of up to 90 percent of national parks in those countries.
The new drink was part of an effort to address those concerns, Boone said.
“We started to upcycle the waste and generate more value in the end for the farmers, but also doing something good for the environment.”