Chocolate Makers Agree on Cocoa Flavanols

February 15/McLean, Va., and Zurick/PR Newswire Europe -- The unique and good-for-you cocoa flavanols -- the natural compounds found in the cocoa fruit linked to important circulatory and other health benefits -- will soon be easier to identify and obtain when making nutrition choices. Mars Incorporated and Barry Callebaut AG recently signed a cross-licensing and cooperation agreement that is expected to increase the availability and uniformity of cocoa flavanol-rich chocolate products worldwide. The agreement between these global chocolate leaders is seen as the beginning of a path leading to consistent standards for beneficial cocoa flavanol products.

Decades of research suggest cocoa flavanols can have a positive impact on circulatory health and related conditions, but manufacturers have struggled with consistency, reliable measurement methods and communication of the flavanol benefits and content of foods. Mars with its pioneering scientific know-how in flavanol analytics, preservation and health benefits is partnering with Barry Callebaut AG to progress toward creating a commonly used standard for measuring useful flavanols in foods, broadening acceptance and availability of flavanol-containing products with guaranteed flavanol content. Cocoa flavanol containing products can be a part of a healthy diet, but simply having a higher percent cacao, being a "darker" chocolate, or claiming antioxidants as the main benefit of cocoa, misses the point and demonstrates the need for a means to measure and indicate adequate levels of flavanols consistent with recent scientific studies.

"While flavanols are naturally abundant in cocoa, unless you are specifically measuring and carefully handling a product throughout the manufacturing process, there is just no guarantee the product contains meaningful levels of the flavanols," said Mary Wagner, general manager at Mars Botanical, a scientific unit of Mars Incorporated dedicated to flavanol research and product development and which recently launched CirkuHealth, a cocoa extract based dietary supplement, in the United States. "For nearly two decades, we've been studying the process of measuring and maximizing the retention of cocoa flavanols and uncovering their related health benefits, resulting in over 100 scientific publications and a broad patent portfolio. Over the last five years, we have also sold products like CocoaVia and continue to sell Dove Rich Dark Chocolate, both high in flavanol content. This agreement with Barry Callebaut will now guarantee reliable flavanol levels in more cocoa and chocolate products around the globe."

Beginning February 2010, Barry Callebaut AG began licensing Mars patents and will display the Mars Cocoapro "bean in hand" logo on its Acticoa products in the U.S. and other markets with an assured consistently high level of cocoa flavanol content.

"Acticoa chocolate has been on the European market for nearly five years, and this new cooperation will allow us to even better serve our customers worldwide, in particular also in the United States. This agreement is an important step in making chocolate alternatives with clear flavanol levels available to a much broader audience, around the world. We're excited to embark on this journey with Mars Incorporated," said Hans P. Vriens, chief innovation officer at Barry Callebaut. "Based on years of our own clinical studies, we know cocoa flavanols offer a potentially substantial health benefit, and we know consumers are increasingly seeking healthier products that offer added value. We can all gain through a consistent method to assure consumers that we're delivering these important compounds in our products, and through an aligned way in which we communicate these levels."

Both companies have agreed to cooperate in promoting flavanol rich chocolate products with a guaranteed level of flavanols inside. Over the next few months, both companies will be updating their science and marketing communications as well as their websites to reflect the implications of this new cooperation.

From the March 1, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition