Someone’s laughing all the way to the bank: they’ve found a way to make chocolate in millennial pink. The new ‘ruby chocolate’, made from the ruby cocoa bean for a blush-hued treat, is an Instagrammer’s dream, and bound to be coveted by couples on February 14. It is also the great pink hope to revive the flagging chocolate market, as a global surplus has resulted in a massive fall in the price paid to farmers. Miraculous (expensive) health benefits But the marketers behind this pink confection are missing a trick, I reckon. Chocolate is already lauded as a superfood, so this must be a super-duper-food, right? Wellness bloggers like to endorse the health benefits of unusually coloured food – it’s always loaded with antioxidants, or vitamins, or the like. Think purple broccoli, for instance. Surely pink cocoa (or cacao, as the wellness crew call it) is loaded with magnesium, or lycopene, or unicorn dust, or something? The best thing about gaining superfood status is you can immediately slap a premium price tag on the product. Think coconut oil – the raw, virgin, cold-pressed version, of course – which can sell for £12 per 500ml. Or manuka honey – 1125g of one variety can set you back a whopping £75. The health benefits would want to be damn near miraculous to offset the shock you must get at the till.
One of the biggest – if sketchiest – ‘superfood’ success stories must be Himalayan pink salt. Sales of the seasoning boomed when it started to appear in health gurus’ recipes on the basis that it is supposedly high in minerals. Leaving aside the fact that sodium is already a mineral, the pink variety also contains trace minerals such as iron and calcium. But you would have to consume toxic levels of salt to actually get enough of those minerals to make any difference. Nevertheless, plenty of people are willing to pay up to 50 times the price of normal table salt for this “healthy” version. The ‘love’ hormone There is, of course, some evidence to support the superfood status of chocolate. Cocoa is rich in selenium, potassium, and zinc, and contains flavonoids for skin and heart health. And it really can make you feel good – chocolate contains phenylethylamine, the same hormone that you release when you’re falling in love. But whether it is really healthy or not depends on how much sugar, fat and other additives make up the particular brand, and the quantity you consume. Nestlé’s chocolates at the firm’s headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland.
New production methods, however, are changing the game. Nestle has come up with a way to reduce the sugar content of chocolate by 40 per cent without affecting the taste, and the new low-sugar confectionery will be available next year. The makers of ruby chocolate say that it has a natural berry flavour which is at once sour and sweet. If that proves to be to consumers’ taste, perhaps it will also be possible to produce it with less sugar. Who knows, perhaps it can be a superfood after all. But how much will you be willing to pay for it?
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