Skyrocketing cocoa butter prices have chocolate manufacturers feeling quite an uncomfortable squeeze of profits—and revisiting and reviewing formulas for any potential savings. Considering that cocoa butter prices likely will climb higher before they peak, manufacturers must tighten their belts.

Defining a chocolate’s viscosity for a specific final application is every bit as important as achieving the correct flavor. And knowing exactly which viscosity is needed also makes it possible to ensure that as little cocoa butter is used as absolutely necessary. In turn, achieving just the right amount of cocoa butter–and no more–helps manufacturers control layer thickness, vibrate air bubbles out of the chocolate, cover inclusions and more.

Denmark’s Palsgaard A/S, a  leading global emulsifiers and stabilizers company, has watched cocoa butter prices rise to more than EUR 4,200/ton. Not surprisingly, company experts suggest that chocolate manufacturer can realize substantial cost savings by developing more cost-effective recipes. In fact, a cocoa butter saving of just 1% will typically benefit the bottom line.

Palsgaard says that “sharpening” every formula requires a manufacturer to define the correct plastic viscosity and yield value. Once these values are defined, it becomes possible to determine whether each new chocolate batch lives up to the viscosity specifications for the particular type of chocolate. As many manufacturers already have discovered, it pays to conduct a “service check” on long-established chocolate recipes. They just may reveal hidden savings by reducing cocoa butter for specific applications.

If a 1% cocoa butter saving doesn’t seem compelling enough, then it’s time to look into further wins through use of chocolate emulsifiers. Emulsifiers not only cut costs, but also offer the manufacturer an extra tool for controlling viscosity during chocolate production.


More efficient emulsifiers

Ammonium phosphatide or Emulsifier YN (E442), sold under the trade name of Palsgaard AMP 4448 (AMP), is an emulsifier typically made from rape seed oil. With its ability to reduce the Plastic Viscosity (PV) and the Yield Value (YV), it’s a highly efficient tool that outperforms lecithin in chocolate applications.

Simply by changing from soy lecithin to AMP, manufacturers can achieve cocoa butter savings from 1.7% to as much as 3.5% in a milk chocolate. Results such as these are produced by increasing use of AMP up to either 0.7% (max. allowed legal usage in the USA) or 1.0% % (max. allowed legal usage in the EU) from 0.4% soy lecithin, while still maintaining unchanged viscosity properties.

It’s a move plenty of manufacturers are prepared to make, because 3.5% less cocoa butter translates to savings of more than EUR 100,000 when producing 1,000 tons of chocolate; and more than EUR 1 million at a 10,000-ton production level. Of course, the calculation takes into account current sugar prices, as sugar is needed to balance the recipe after removing cocoa butter.


Added savings with co-emulsifiers

Another chocolate industry tool widely used to deliver cost savings and increased processing control is Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (E476), sold under the trade name of Palsgaard PGPR 4150. PGPR mainly reduces YV levels in chocolate and is therefore always used in combination with either lecithin or AMP to achieve a pumpable product with a low YV.

It’s particularly useful for applications such as molding, spinning and coatings, where its track record in reducing YV levels is difficult to match with any other additive.

Naturally, if AMP and PGPR are to be an integral part of a manufacturer’s chocolate recipe, then they must deliver the same, reliable effect for every production run. To ensure this is the case, Palsgaard tests and adjusts the viscosity-reducing power of each AMP and PGPR batch before releasing the batch for sale, making both emulsifiers perfectly suited as viscosity-controlling ingredients in cost-efficient and quality-conscious chocolate manufacturing processes.

Neither AMP nor PGPR produces negative side effects on the tempering of the chocolate, nor do they affect taste. Researchers say both easily can be added to make the final viscosity adjustments approximately one hour before the end of the conching process.

Typically, Palsgaard works with its customers to optimize recipes in two simple steps: First, the customer refines its chocolate and sends a sample of the refiner flakes to Palsgaard for evaluation. Palsgaard then uses this sample to explore what can be done to sharpen the recipe for specific applications. Special attention is given to the potential benefits of using chocolate emulsifiers. Experience shows that, by combining emulsifiers, savings can often be significantly higher than the 3.5% mentioned above.


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