AAK USA Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high value-adding specialty vegetable fats and oils, offers filling fats that match the demand for fats with a healthier yet indulgent profile and facilitate the inclusion of naturally nutritious nuts—among other ingredients.
These filling fat solutions solve a number of the challenges that today’s chocolate and confectionery manufacturers face.
“Consumer tastes may differ, but indulgence and excitement are always at the heart of confectionery favorites – and preferably with a healthier, more natural profile,” says Marco Oomen, AAK’s Global Business Director for Chocolate & Confectionery Fats. “Although chocolate means different things to different people there are, according to recent surveys*, some points that chocolate lovers tend to agree on. First of all, chocolate is moving out of the snack category and becoming more of a premium luxury. Second, exciting creative tastes and texture are a must—perhaps with the addition of a few nuts and a healthier, more natural profile.”
Another indication is that consumers have moved beyond the solid chocolate bar that was popular a decade or two ago. While this gives manufacturers a fantastic playground for developing new sensory experiences, it also raises a set of technical challenges that must be solved before a new product can become a true consumer favorite.
“Very often, the solution to such challenges lies in the filling fats,” says Oomen. “In a recent AAK survey of U.S. consumers, more than 65% of the respondents described chocolate as a permissible indulgence. Some see it as their daily affordable luxury. In other words, they have high expectations of the chocolate they buy—and their expectations must be met each time. So, when manufacturers produce chocolate and confectionery with fillings, their goal is to excite consumers with soft, hard or aerated textures; flavors with controlled release; and a creamy or cooling sensation in the mouth. All of these characteristics depend on the choice of filling fats, their interaction with the other ingredients in the recipes, and the processes used.”
In other words, production of a perfect filling requires a thorough understanding of all the parameters that influence the taste and quality of the final filled chocolate. This is the key to a world of opportunities, where fat plays an essential role along with the other ingredients used.
“When nuts are added to a recipe, for example, it can be a real challenge to maintain quality throughout the product’s shelf life,” adds Oomen. “Consumers love nuts for their premium healthy image, delicious taste and crunchy texture. But nut oil is well-known for its tendency to migrate from the filling and into the chocolate coating. Unless a special bloom-retarding fat is used in nut-based fillings, bloom will often appear in no time.”
Texture is another parameter to consider. Should it be hard, soft or aerated, and should crunch be added? The filling fat is the key to create the perfect texture. With softer fillings, the challenge is to maintain quality throughout the product’s shelf life. This is simply due to the faster migration of the filling’s oil content to the surface of the chocolate shell. When that happens, the filling becomes dry and the chocolate surface will turn grey, dull and less appealing—a phenomenon known as “bloom.”
“AAK supports chocolate and confectionery manufacturers with all these considerations and technical challenges through the co-development of exciting new fillings,” Oomen says. “Using AAK specialty filling fats, manufacturers gain a clear advantage that is visible on the ingredient label. That’s important –and not just to the 30% of consumers who often check ingredient labels before they buy.”
“The right AAK filling fat can also solve the challenges of using nuts, ensuring the perfect indulgent combination of taste, texture and appearance along with the healthier profile that consumers enjoy,” he continues. “Several parameters need to be considered when producing fillings for the special chocolate moments that consumers seek (see figure 1). Filled chocolates are not just chocolate anymore. To consumers, they are about enjoying life, special moments and indulgence.”
Learn more about AAK’s latest filling fat solutions and their co-development approach, that utilizes AAK’s large toolbox of plant-based, multi-source and multi-function fats and oils to create—and accelerate the speed to market of—better-for-you foods that look and taste great by visiting www.betterwithAAK.com and www.aak.com.
*Euromonitor 2017, AAK consumer survey 2018
AAK is a leading provider of value-adding vegetable oils & fats. Our wide range of raw materials, broad process capabilities, and expertise in oils & fats within food applications enable us to develop innovative and value-adding solutions across many industries – Chocolate & Confectionery, Bakery, Dairy, Special Nutrition, Food Service, Personal Care, and more. AAK’s proven expertise is based on more than 140 years of experience within oils & fats. Our unique Co-Development approach brings our customers’ skills and know-how together with our own capabilities and mindset for lasting results. Listed on the NASDAQ OMX Stockholm and with our headquarters in Malmö, Sweden, AAK has 20 production facilities and customization plants, sales offices in more than 25 countries and more than 3,000 employees.