International chocolate firm Barry Callebaut has stated they’ve discovered the fourth natural chocolate flavour after white, milk, and dark – ruby. The new flavour is supposedly the first in 80 years to be discovered and is the result of research conducted at the company’s centres in France and Belgium.
It’s not yet stocked in New Zealand, and might not be for some time. The patent for a process for producing red or purple cocoa-derived material is registered to Barry Callebaut, so it’s up to them who gets to use the mystical ruby cacao.
The chocolate looks pretty, but claims it’s revolutionary are overblown. Luke Owen Smith of Wellington’s The Chocolate Bar pointed out that it is not, in fact, the newest flavour in 80 years. “There are new natural flavours being discovered in cacao and chocolate all the time,” he explained. “There are some truly new and exciting things happening in the world of chocolate right now, but this isn’t one of them.”
Nestlé KitKat Australia's boutique store sells Ruby KitKats and has stated they’re continuing to roll-out Ruby chocolate to new markets. Despite the exaggeration of Barry Callebaut’s claims that the chocolate is revolutionary, there has been strong demand from consumers for the boutique KitKat. It’s a novelty, and it’s pretty. Artisan chocolatiers are seeing the innovation as a gimmick, probably inspired by the millennial pink trend.
Taste tests are proving controversial, with most people describing the chocolate as something between white chocolate and a berry. Sonia Sodha of The Observer described it as “creamier than milk chocolate, less sickly than white chocolate, with just a hint of a zingy fruit-yoghurt tang”. Bob Granleese, The Guardian’s food editor, has commented that the chocolate “smells like that waft you get when you step within 25 paces of a Lush store”.
The chocolate industry is in the midst of a boom. A glance at the constantly-changing wave of Whittaker’s bars and the rise of the craft and raw movements mean there are more flavours and innovations than ever before. Ruby chocolate isn’t the biggest or best of them. The fine flavour cacao used by craft chocolate makers accounts for just five percent of what’s grown worldwide. “Within that five percent there’s a huge spectrum of flavours that most people have never tasted before,” explained Smith. “Supporting and enjoying craft chocolate is leading to the preservation of heirloom varietals of cacao, many of which have been close to extinction in recent years”. That’s a lot more exciting than something being pink.