There are several drivers for the rise in demand of health confectionery, such as the new UK restrictions on the promotion of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products and tightening rules elsewhere in the world, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What we see clearly over the last five years is that the demand for sugar-free is increasing quite substantially," says Turos. "I would say that in the last two years, we've been continuously producing sugar-free chocolates as well as sugar-free compounds and sugar-free fillings".
Göteborgs Food Budapest is also providing chocolate products to protein bar manufacturers looking for different ways to incorporate the health-minded ingredient. "Typically, you get the protein from the centre and use a conventional chocolate for enrobing. By producing protein-enriched compounds and chocolates, the protein source is extended to the enrobing chocolate itself, which is becoming increasingly popular on the market" Turos explains.
Another key trend is veganism, he says, partly driven by healthy aims, and partly by growing interest in sustainability and the environment. “The demand for real chocolate is now also increasing above compound, partly due to rising prices of palm kernel fats, and potentially partly due to the negative aura around palm oil.”
Göteborgs Food Budapest rises to the challenge
“Nevertheless, the growing trend for health-minded offerings does not come without its challenges, especially for smaller-to-mid-sized manufacturers who do not have a dedicated vegan production”, Turos concedes. He gave the example of a vegan lemon curd-based compound Göteborgs Food Budapest is making for a customer.
"This product, for instance, is produced in our white, cocoa-free production systems where we normally use milk, as ordinarily, white compound or white chocolate are produced with milk. So [for a vegan product] very heavy cleaning is needed to ensure a high-quality product.”
Turos adds that making a protein chocolate is also a completely different recipe which requires a heavier cleaning process. "As it is not possible to use water in chocolate systems, you need to run cocoa butter through it, which also has a value" Turos explains.
“It is a two-sided coin – there is no denying that for smaller-to-mid-sized manufacturers, there are challenges in added labor costs and stolen focus from production elsewhere. On the other hand, these trends expand our customer group to an extent and come with many exciting new product innovations.”
“Flexibility is our big advantage”
While bigger producers may be able to build facilities dedicated to specialist products, however, smaller-to-mid-sized players have the advantage when it comes to flexibility.
"Our flexibility has always been our big advantage," Turos says. "A major part of our production is tailor-made products.”
Turos adds that smaller-to-midsize compound, chocolate and fillings manufacturers are crucial for the market, particularly for small-to-midsize clients.
“If a customer turns to bigger companies looking for a tailor-made recipe, they often require a minimum of 50 tonnes, whereas we are able to produce tailor-made products down to six tonnes.”
Demand for traditional chocolate high in Eastern Europe
Although Turos stresses that sugar-free, protein enriched and vegan products currently take up a minority portion of Göteborgs Food Budapest´s production line at present, rising demands means these products will become increasingly important in the future.
Meanwhile, mid-sized players such as Göteborgs Food Budapest are still seeing growing demand for more traditional chocolate and confectionery products, particularly in markets like Eastern Europe.