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Apr 10, 2024 4:32:00 PM11 min read

A step-by-step guide to developing a new chocolate product

Refreshed and republished on April 10th, 2024
This post was originally published on May 25th, 2022, and has been enhanced and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

An NPD process that works smoothly for chocolate market segments, step-by-step

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Developing a new chocolate product can be as much challenging as exciting. Understanding market trends and consumer behavior are key preliminary steps in NPD that give an innovative and relevant product as a result.

Keep on reading or select the stage of new product development below that you are most eager to understand

Firstly, what is New Product Development?

New Product development (NPD) is the process of bringing an original product idea to market, and chocolate product development, with its unique flavors and challenges, is no different. Whilst this can differ by industry and market, ultimately, all teams will follow a framework to bring a product idea to life.

dark chocolate manufacturers

Yet, the difference is finding and working with a reliable and innovative partner or supplier that can be an extension of your team.

With many new and adaptable ways to build a product, there’s an added constant pressure to act with greater agility and more efficiently than ever. To keep up with the rising demand from consumers for better chocolate products, every step of the NPD process must push for innovation. Exploring market trends and new talent, and being technology savvy to optimize and enhance operations.

In the intricate journey of New Product Development, the power of custom sourcing emerges as pivotal. Tailoring cocoa origin amplifies a chocolate’s narrative, setting it apart in a saturated market. It’s not just about the flavour but about telling a unique story with each bite. When innovation meets such meticulous sourcing, the result is a product that resonates with authenticity and craftsmanship.

Your product and business deserve this level of dedication.

How?  Not only do we want to build a chocolate product for our clients that appeals to a substantial number of consumers, but we believe in quality and forming unique characteristics from our client’s vision & ethos. All whilst implementing a manufacturing process that can be operated without excessive waste.

how does a typical co manufacturing service might look like

👣 Steps to consider when developing a new chocolate product.

Step 1 - Identify the product interest in a particular category 

As a chocolate manufacturing company, we constantly develop new products, offering a wide range of chocolate bars, dragées, chips, and cocoa powders. This sits alongside the ability to access unique ingredients for inclusion in a client’s product, should they wish.

What are we witnessing in segments relevant to chocolate products? New, healthier chocolate products arise in NPD projects.

Identifying consumer preferences, market gaps, and innovation potential allows for a deeper understanding of the market’s attitude towards new products and determines the viability of the orientation given to the project, resulting in a leaner process.

As highlighted by Food Navigator, the ‘so-called healthy indulgence trend’ continues to garner industry and consumer attention in response to the stress of the cost-of-living crisis and consumers seeking balance to ‘build resilience.’ 

chocolate supply and manufacturing

Governments and organizations like the World Health Organisation continually encourage consumers to reduce their sugar intake. Evidently, it’s working, with 94% of global consumers having decreased their intake of sugar in beverages from 2022 – 23. However, as healthier chocolate alternatives come to the fore – low in sugar or sugar alternatives, so does the importance of traceability and transparency. 😉 Criteria Luker has developed and continues to do so through our Balance line and Single Origins.

Our role is to adhere to these requests, monitor, analyze and predict the market trends, and assure a consistent supply so they never have to worry about production or staying ahead of the curb.

However, balancing wider environmental and personal health concerns is a huge responsibility within the confectionery and snacks industry. All while ensuring the final product is delicious and doesn’t lose its indulgence, our turnkey services ensure we can assist across all client requirements to meet ever-changing market demands.

A graphic to demonstrate a range of chocolate couvertures and applications, from chocolate covered nuts to milk and caramel flavoring<br />

Some of our solutions for new product development may include cashews, almonds, and chickpeas coated naked, cocoa-dusted, or glossy.

Working shoulder-to-shoulder with a prospect to define their requirements is important at this initial stage. Understanding whether they need a service or a custom chocolate product that fits within confectionery, snacks, baking, or drinking chocolate and how our manufacturing capabilities can fulfil their needs.

We often find that largely formed businesses tend to have an established vision.  However, a small business owner will want to be presented with many possibilities. 🤩 This is great because it presents an opportunity to formulate a brand-new product, often completely bespoke to them. Unless they enjoy the product, you cannot expect repeat purchases. For many, the experience of biting into a bar of chocolate or the first sip of hot cocoa will bring back pleasant memories, taking them to a place of relaxation. Nonetheless,  consumers want a product that can be considered ‘healthy, environmentally friendly’ or ‘unique.’

New lifestyles demand new protein sources: high-protein chocolates to save the day.

In addition, functional product launches have grown 276% and 115% in the UK and the US, respectively (Innova Marketing Insights, 2022). These figures alone show emerging trends as consumers look for a balanced lifestyle. But this does not mean they want to sacrifice taste.

Product validation ensures Luker creates a product for a client that people will pay for. For this reason, we will only offer ready-to-launch products that are high in demand across mass markets with the guaranteed, delicious taste of Fine Flavour Cocoa.

The key is showing the client through market data where we see a growing opportunity, be it non-GMO, kosher, organic, or plant-based, which is particularly popular right now due to the conscious consumer. If the final product properly aligns with the opportunity presented and meets the taste criteria, it’s ready for the taking!

new chocolate trends

Every client has different goals that can be achieved with our manufacturing capabilities to meet consumer demands.

Step 2 - Validate the required claims

A product must appeal to a substantial number of consumers. According to Innova Insight’s latest ‘Consumer Trends Support 2023’, two in five consumers prioritize health-positive food and beverage choices as part of their strategy for staying healthy, while the same number aims for a balanced diet.

Two-thirds of consumers now claim that they always read health claims and labels. It is simply not enough to claim ‘Gluten Free’ or ‘Sugar-Free’ characteristics. The fundamental flavour of the product still counts.

Claims and seals on chocolate products serve as powerful indicators of trust and quality. They reflect a brand’s commitment to ethical practices, sustainability, and exceptional craftsmanship. However, it’s crucial to approach them with integrity within our marketing strategy. While seals can be instrumental in securing consumer trust, their misuse can tarnish a brand’s reputation. Industry critics emphasize the importance of showcasing these emblems and genuinely embodying and consistently proving their values.

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Even more important than the claims themselves: the actual sourcing of a chocolate product

While competitors can compete across sourcing, manufacturing progress, and ingredients, they can’t copy a bespoke story that will guarantee a reason to purchase every bite. In an era where authenticity is revered, consumers are not merely satisfied with labels or claims; they seek genuine stories and provenance as it directly affects the product life cycle. A truly transparent and distinct sourcing narrative and methodology elevates a brand and creates trust and a unique bond with the consumer. Beyond the mere process and ingredients, the heart, soul, and commitment behind a chocolate product genuinely resonate.

Sustainable sourcing practices and their impact on brand reputation and consumer choice are a growing demand in the food industry. When the backstory is as rich as the taste, it becomes an irresistible combination, creating loyal patrons who appreciate and champion the brand’s values.

Step 3 – Finding the right chocolate

Within any market, consumers will be quick to recognize quality and desirability. If there is a quality problem, the news will quickly spread, and sales will drop.

Knowing where you want your brand to stand in the market is essential. Do you aim to maintain your product’s taste or create a new flavour profile? Your choices in chocolate formulation can guide this journey and ease some of the challenges. Whether preserving your product’s beloved taste or innovating with a fresh twist, we’re here to support your vision.

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If you aim to pivot without disrupting your product’s signature flavour, then a careful balance of ingredients is essential. However, if a complete flavour transformation is a vision, it opens doors to innovative combinations and unique chocolate experiences. Regardless of the path chosen, it’s all about aligning with your brand’s aspirations and the preferences of your target audience.

We have a chocolate product development consultant team

As our product development team can adhere to, as part of the ideation process, we conduct in-depth interviews to understand client challenges and objectives and to create new products that meet global appetites.

Whether sugar-free, no-added-sugar, a natural sugar alternative, plant-based, gluten-free, or fortified with functional ingredients, each product is crafted to amplify sensations. Our aim? To encapsulate cherished moments through unparalleled flavour.

Step 4 – Adding texture and flavour

Adding texture and flavour to a chocolate product is like painting on a blank canvas. The foundation you choose matters immensely. When working with real chocolate, its authentic taste forms a rich base, allowing additions like nuts, fruits, or spices to shine through and complement its inherent cocoa notes.

Real chocolate is crafted from genuine cocoa butter, offering a rich, authentic taste that melts perfectly in the mouth, typically containing cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and sugar. Its complex flavors require precision tempering for the best texture and sheen. On the other hand, compound chocolate uses substitute fats like vegetable oils and is often combined with cocoa powder and sweeteners. It provides a simpler flavour without the need for tempering, making it easier for certain applications. While both have their place in confectionery, understanding their nuances ensures the best choice for your product’s desired taste and quality.

Once we have settled on a category and couverture type, we have another stage to be more experimental and support our clients in standing out from the crowd. Product development provides an excellent opportunity to remove allergens from existing products, but it is also time to consider new ingredients.

It is our priority and within our manufacturing capabilities to ensure all products comply with any allergen regulations. Still, with this flexibility, we can manufacture nuts, salt, nibs, custom-made flavours like strawberry, and textures such as jelly or crunchy peppermint to meet a client’s vision.

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Step 5 – The packaging prototype

The right packaging speaks volumes. In the vast chocolate and snack & confectionery market, the silent envoy piques interest, invites touch, and promises a sensory adventure. As consumers flit between choices, the allure of packaging can seal the deal, hinting at the quality and experience. It’s not just about standing out but about building a bond, evoking anticipation, and setting the stage for a memorable encounter with the product.

Best chocolate brands have something special on their packaging

At its most basic level, product packaging protects the product inside. However, every chocolate product needs the right packaging to fly off the shelves. This could come in the form of:

  • Flowpack
  • Aluminium
  • Paper
  • Doypack
  • Pouch
  • Can 
  • Sachet

Caring about how products are packaged means we can find ways to be cost-effective and efficient for our clients, attract new eco-conscious clients, and convey the products’ story.

Speaking decoratively (and this is the fun part), the accompaniment we provide for our clients by co-creating the packaging concept adds suspense and excitement as it lands in the hands of a consumer. It is the first thing a consumer will be aware of when they encounter the product, and even when opened, they’ll observe how the product is presented inside. Structured methods for product testing and gathering consumer feedback, including focus groups and sample testing scenarios, can help identify any blanks in the user/consumer experience. These methods align the purpose of the developed product with the consumers’ perception.

This is an opportunity for clients to add their personal touch and share the product story. When working with retailers, they need to know that logos such as ‘The Chocolate Dream’ can be added to their packaging to demonstrate USPs and sustainability initiatives.

As a Colombian, family-owned chocolate manufacturer of fine chocolates and cocoa crafted at origin, we can guarantee our products are made exclusively from directly sourced Cacao Fino de Aroma and are characterized for their superior taste and diversity. All additional benefits that clients can claim on their packaging or state their ingredients to stand out.

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Available packaging formats for your products

Guaranteeing sourcing and transparency for our clients is a seal of trust and is crucial for our business model. Many corporations want to embed fair labour practices and environmental responsibility throughout their supply networks. With our fully transparent value chain, Luker can guarantee this whilst creating top-tier chocolate products.

We can impact another area of the globe through chocolate, generating more products to delight customers worldwide.

After the product launch, ongoing monitoring and the iterative process of refining the product based on consumer and market feedback must be constant. Market behaviour can change fast and being able to adapt your product or portfolio can only be made when paying attention to consumers.

Other content for inspiration on your product development journey: 
The 16 Best Chocolate & Candy Packaging Ideas Demonstrating Unique Brand Identities.
Approaching new confectionery product development with an eye for success.
The Oat M!lk chocolate revolution.

 

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