As Barry Callebaut strives to waste less of the cacaofruit, 80% of which is thrown out in traditional chocolate making, it is discovering remarkable aspects about the part of the fruit that has often gone to waste. With Elix, the company aims to take advantage of the nutritional benefits and package them in an easy beverage format that Boone said many consumers understand: fruit juice.
Elix has already been verified for a heart health claim in Europe, according to Boone. The FDA is currently vetting a claim, and Boone said he believes it will be approved in the U.S. early next year.
Flavonols like the ones in Elix have been proven to help the heart and circulation system according to Aedin Cassidy, a professor at Queens University Belfast who spoke at the launch event. The nutrients correlate with many other positive health effects, such as prevention of diabetes and potential improvement of cognitive function.
Boone said Elix is targeted specifically at Generation Xers, who are now in their 40s and 50s and at a point in life where they are interested in supplements to improve their health. Elix, he said, gives them the opportunity to get some of those needed nutrients in an all-natural way, though the beverage is healthy and beneficial to all age groups, according to the company.
Since Barry Callebaut is a business-to-business ingredients-focused company, it will not be producing Elix for consumer sales. Boone would not say if there are any companies developing products with Elix now, but he said it takes about 18 months for a product to be designed, perfected and manufactured. The event on Thursday was more of an unveiling of a new ingredient, not a specific product launch. But Barry Callebaut is ready to supply Elix when manufacturers are ready, Boone said.
The international chocolate ingredient giant likely doesn’t supply much to the better-for-you drinks segment. However, as the category grows, manufacturers are likely clamoring for new ingredients to set their offerings apart. Not only does the fruity, natural and flavonoid-packed Elix seem unique, but it could also appeal to consumers who do not want a jolt of energy from their beverage, as well as people recovering from a workout.
Boone said Barry Callebaut is exploring more innovations, noting that cacaofruit has more than 20,000 compounds and nutrients.
“There’s a lot to tap into,” Boone said. “I am absolutely sure we will find more of the kind of ingredients which can lead to new product introductions. To be honest, I think we’re starting a journey.”