Olam explains how its approach to cocoa product innovation helps it meet growing market demands and sustain its brands' exceptional quality.
A key advantage for Olam Cocoa is being able to support customers in their own regions, with new concept opportunities and existing product refinement to significantly reduce time to market.
Olam Cocoa currently operates six Cocoa Innovation Centres (CICs), located in the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, the US, Brazil and Singapore. Olam's competitive advantage in this space stems from its 47 product development and innovation experts that make up the CIC teams, its ability to support customers directly at its CICs, the physical CIC facilities and the innovative resulting cocoa products.
At the CICs, customers are able to experience first-hand the opportunities for collaborative new product development, proof of concept and recipe refinement of existing applications. Direct access to CIC staff, technical services and test facilities makes this possible, allowing customers to participate in one-on-one development sessions and regularly scheduled group seminars. This provides opportunities for the improvement of existing recipes as well as expert resources for new product development.
Manufacturers are also able to work directly with CIC staff to shorten formulation timelines and increase efficiencies for specific development projects, resulting in shorter product development cycles and cost-reduction potential.
As consumers become more price-conscious, Olam's CIC teams help customers create new products with lower
cost-in-use implications. This 'less is more' framework helps manufacturers contain costs without impacting quality by using smaller quantities of cocoa powder to achieve the same (or better) results when compared with conventional products.
Over the past year, Olam has launched a number of successful new products that exemplify the company's ability to innovate in order to stay ahead of its competitors. This has included new cocoa powders, and new formats and formulations of cocoa liquor and cocoa butter through the company's strong group of brands, including deZaan, Unicao, Joanes and Macao.
TrueDark from deZaan, the first medium-brown, dark, natural cocoa powder without alkali processing, is a great example of this. TrueDark was crafted to meet increasing customer demand for natural and unadulterated foods, and sustainable, clean labelling. It remedies the previously unresolved issue of colour and flavour reduction that otherwise occurs when non-alkalised cocoa powders are used in applications.
As part of the recent celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Joanes brand in Brazil and the opening of a new CIC there, Olam launched AJ11PK, a new, dark-black cocoa powder that has no added sodium. Developed for Brazil and other South American markets, this cocoa powder aligns with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) policy to reduce dietary salt intake among South American consumers. (Sodium is traditionally added as an alkalising agent during processing for dark cocoa powders to achieve the desired colouration).
Launched at the 2016 Food Ingredients Asia trade fair in Jakarta, Indonesia, the new M558V cocoa powder was driven by growing market demand in Asian nations, where the expansion of more affluent demographic segments is resulting in increased demand for higher-end cocoa and chocolate products. It brings Olam's medium-fat cocoa-powder processing technology to the market in that region for the first time, and is developed and produced in the company's Jurong factory in Singapore using cocoa beans from Indonesia. To be used mainly in beverages, ice cream and breakfast cereal, M558V opens up new opportunities in Asia, which is now one of the world's most rapidly expanding cocoa-product markets.
In 2017, Olam expects further cocoa-product developments to include an expanded offering of black cocoa powders. The company will also be launching a new brand, Huysman, with a targeted range of cocoa powders to support the US and Asia-Pacific markets. Due to the exceptional efforts of Olam's product development and innovation teams, the creation of superior, value-added cocoa products that provide improved flavour, superior colour and reliable performance consistency will remain the company's focus and be what sets it apart.