Happy (Chocolate) New Year…soon

chocolate ideal picSkipping over holiday pieces (at least for the time being) let’s talk 2015 and chocolate trends.

This fruit of the gods is a tried and true pleasure, a long-time luxury with an incredible history that has its ups and downs (as in “white” chocolate).

Still, somehow, great is not good enough. The search is always on for the new, the trendy, the tomorrow. Why? Something about human nature not worth trying to understand here.

Anyway, hearing the breath of Janus getting closer, the most important new year news will definitely be that the “we’re running out of chocolate” hysteria is overblown. The world market is changing, but don’t panic yourself into hoarding a domesday supply of drugstore crapchoc in your apocalypse shelter … yet.

As support for keeping calm, Big Chocolate is planning to still go about its business. Barry Callebaut predicts it will be crunch, acidity and shimmer making chocolate pop, and is expanding its sourcing footprint by moving into Chile, among other new growth territories. Cargill posits transparency in labeling, leading to the PR spin highlighting that what was “bad” with chocolate is actually “healthy” for you. Everyone is fighting over the Chinese market, and there is a frothingchocolate and tea trend. Finally, going all in on the mercenary, restaurateurs are focused on how to cobble a few more bucks per 2015 table with the sales pitch that restaurant chocolate is for sharers.

Rather than look to the business world for guidance, the new year could be the time to confront the difficult facts in chocolate’s backstory such as child slavery in the chocolate fields. Not the worst resolution for the new year is — in the spirit of the gods who first planted cacao seeds on earth — to resolve to help in ways big or small.

Perhaps with conscience salved it will make the search for the new and novel even more enjoyable. Trends are, of course, concepts that enough others have discovered so the idea has spread and one can feel like an insider before masses partake and “it’s, like, soooo over, yesterday, deceased, and penny-eyelidded.” Quirky chocolate-related foodish ideas that recently popped their heads out of the corners of cuisine and might (or might not) take off include
cinammon mini-biscuits with chocolate gravy, and cocoa baguettes.

Those wishing to conspicuously consume for 2015, should keep on the lookout for more fancy-schmanzy, you-are-buying-story-much-more-than-taste chocolate bars such as the current $100 and $260 options.

If the trend thing is too much and you would rather not yet look forward and perhaps learn from history in order to repeat/not repeat it, here’s a quick look at where the science and culture of chocolate is so far:

#chocolate #2015trends #HappyNewYear #BigChocolate #foodies


chocolate shreds balls sticksPerhaps the best piece of business wisdom — certainly an item from the Top 5, and yet usually ignored — is that a customer who presents a problem is one ready to buy more stuff and gives  the company a chance to cement greater loyalty.*

In that spirit, and with the hope that #BitterChocolate will soon apply only to actual high-percentage-cocoa-solid and low-percentage-sugar “baking” chocolate, noted here are some current, saddening challenges for the world of chocolate.

  • Cacao fruit needs to be picked in West Africa and sent into processing without using child slavery, a tragedy recently brought to the fore again with the current case against Hershey, Cargill and ADM.
  • Ebola has to be contained and then cured so that its concentric circles of misery don’t damage the reputation of Ivory Coast caca and create Ghanaian smuggling cartels
  • The income cacao harvesters derive from their cacao fields has to increase so it will be easier for the Peru government to help farmers transition to coffee and chocolate from coca
  • While quality control gets ever more complicated, it still doesn’t excuse letting chocolate get exposed to pork — particularly not for chocolate heading to Muslim countries or for having lead and cadmium leech into anyone’s product
  • Finally (not, not really) there is the ongoing threat and potential for price fixing and collusion among Big Chocolate as they search for higher corporate profits.

Just a reminder, you always have the choice if the bad news is too sad to bring into your life a bit more Scandal, in this case the Japanese rock band with the catchy pop tune Bitter Chocolate

which it should be noted has nothing to do with chocolate, bitter or any other sort, but is just your “typical,” J-pop, #GrrlPwr, teen break-up lament.

*1) Of course, you have to convince the customer that the problem is satisfactorily resolved.
2) Briefly and with all typical caveats about generalizing, the biz-theory is that if unhappy customers don’t tell you the problem they may never come back, instead spreading their unhappy story to friends/acquaintances/social media contacts. Unhappy customers made happy, not only come back, but statistics say they’ll buy even more than before, and are more likely to become loyal, brand ambassadors who share the story of how the company cares so much about its customers that it goes out of the way to fix the bad.
3) While it may be easiest to lie and say the problem is fixed, it’s best to actually fix it not just for them, but all other customers as well … don’t worry there will be other problems so you will never run out of opportunities to grow the business by building from the foundation of customer problems and problem customers.

#chocolate #businessadvice #BigChocolate #Scandal #JPop #politics

Chocolate Around the World May Keep You at Home

chinese chocolate soldiersBABY IT’S cold outside … and so time for some choco-tourism news. First catching our attention is Florida’s recently opened Chocolate Kingdom. Featuring five (Five? Really? That’s a “kingdom?”) cacao trees amid its 8,300 squ. ft. (Not to beat up this dead horse too much, but 8,300 squ. ft. as a “kingdom?” Are the citizens amoebae? Does the king moonlight as Horton Hears A Who! Mayor of Whoville?) Admittedly, it may seem, at least at first if you’ll pardon the mangled pun, a bit cheezy:

Next, we turned to the second annual Shanghai Chocolate Dream Park
scheduled to run from 18 Jan through 24 Feb., and showcasing what a massive state can proffer when marshalling effort on behalf of choco-tourism and featuring chocolate sculpture and samples from folks around the world, as well as the finals of the International Chocolate Talent contest.

Ambitiously, chocolate is also being used to sell winter trips to Wales, Abu Dhabi, and in fact everywhere from (at least) Brussels to Belize (and as long as we’re thinking “B”‘s there’s Nicole Basaraba’s in-depth tourist hints for Belgium chocolate enjoyment). Quirkiest of all, there’s even the possibility for Valentine’s Day travel plans and an opportunity to escape the winter blahs in “southern” Ocean County, N.J. between 9-18 Feb. for their “chocolate week.”

If none of this appeals, we encourage you to vacate your current space and drop in for some hot chocolate — based on recent research we are trying to scrounge up some orange cups to make it taste even better, and until then are providing blindfolds or tinted glasses to help you go — and a slice of some chocolate something-else, as well as the warmth of friends.

Selling Chocolate to the Little Heads

BRING ON THE SENSATIONAL — Sex, Sex, Sex, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate… a pinch of science and heaping cup and a half of hype — and see it if sells!

Somewhat under the radar for holiday news, but no doubt getting its engine revved for a pre-Valentines ejaculation of interest is the news that mega-cocoa provider Barry Callebaut will be “turbo-charging” at least one of its chocolate offerings, tweaking and enhancing flavenols and increasing blood pumping attributes, which has the suggestion and allure of “choco-viagra.”

(At this point we should probably apologize to anyone who has read this far after searching for “chocolate viagra” hoping for porn but ending up here. Sorry, but do still hope you’ll look around in case we might somehow satisfy another appetite.)

Chocolate traces its aphrodisiacal mystique back at least to the Aztecs and Montezuma’s alleged consumption of 50 hot cocoa cups a day. Unfortunately, killbuzz scientists do mostly find that the advertised ScINtillating properties are more likely psychological than physiological,(which doesn’t keep anyone from trying to come up with sexy chocolate bars … even if said sweets leave at least some critics limp).

We root for Callebaut to have created the breakthrough that will help us sell evermore chocolate to men for their own consumption and everyone’s enjoyment. At the same time, we can’t help beware the hype and persist in the hope that sex, sex, sex, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate doesn’t screw up the taste.

Chocolate Viagra indeed: a very odd love affair with one’s food.

Couldn’t You Just Eat the Good Stuff?

Why does someone with taste eat more crappy chocolate when they have the opportunity to eat the very best?

That’s the central question raised with the announcement and media coverage that Angus Kennedy, 47, father of five and editor of British candy trade publication Kennedy’s Confection, has abdicated his editorship and unofficial role as Britain’s “Chief Chocolate Taster.” He blames it on the inevitability of the position:

Eating chocolate for a living really was the dream job. I was given a Golden Ticket to sample the world’s craziest, tastiest new goodies and review them in the magazine. …The only problem with eating chocolate from 9 to 5, of course, is the predictable weight gain and high cholesterol.

Kennedy, who claims to have taken the job about 30 pounds lighter than his current 190 and with cholesterol levels down from his current dangerous highs, certainly seems wise and philosophical enough to consider eating good chocolate or only taking small nibbles while on the job or learning from the experience of those who taste wine or spirits for a living and don’t spend teir lives falling down drunk.

Of course it could all be related to getting some publicity for himself and the novel he just announced finishing. No word yet if it is about chocolate.

Even as the chocosseur announces his abstinence, the magazine will consider its good work:

Sail on Sweetly

The carbon neutral chocolate bar has landed. Doesn’t sound tasty, does it?

We expect it is, but mostly want to give a shoutout to folks whose heart is in the right place, even if their head *— except for an ability to stir up favorable publicity — may appear a bit muddied, economically. Chocosseur Chocolate Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Finest Chocolates“>Chantal Coady and her colleagues at England’s Rococo Chocolates have partnered with a Grenadan chocolate growers cooperative and Dutch shippers Fairtransport to have no negative farming, creation or distribution environmental impact and sail across the Atlantic 24,000, hand-pressed, lustrous, sophisticated, dark chocolate bars.

The retail price for all that is £12.95 a bar or six for £60. The question arises around what is being billed as £1.50 a mouthful chocolate chew (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/may/11/carbon-neutral-chocolate) is what a bar, any … even the most delicious bars of cacao creativity is worth. The answer, of course — at least in capitalism’s terms — whatever someone will pay.

MegaBar Gets GigaPublicity

In case you hadn’t noticed,  the word record chocolate bar is wrapping us its world (U.S., really) tour . It returns to hometown Chicago (where its 12,000 pounds of monstrousness was concocted in the kitchens of World Finest Chocolate  for a final bow May 10.

The tour includes invitations to schoolchildren to think about what is a proper serving portion  and how they can use math in cooking. But what it really is about is marketing. We’re all in favor of promoting chocolate, but eater beware (comedentis caveat, in Latin). It seems unlikely the “World’s Finest Chocolate” really is — unless by “finest” you mean “capable of creating a megabar you can get lots of press for as a way to raise the profile of a company that offers cheap chocolates to schools who sell them dearly for a fund raising split.

Still, that much chocolate is something to behold

Eat vs. Vend

“We definitely ate more more chocolate than we sold that first year,” Frances Park, co-owner of Washington, D.C.’s, Chocolate Chocolate tells the Voice of America. What bakery owner can’t relate to that feeling and experience?

Of course, at some point you actually have to turn your passion into a business, which Frances and sister Ginger did. And once you do, a little bit of worldwide publicity will never hurt: