Industry-First Natural Dark-Cocoa Powder Skips Alkali Processing Altogether


For food formulators looking for a “natural,” non-alkalized dark cocoa powder, ADM now has the answer.

Photo © Popov

Food manufacturers love dark-cocoa powder’s rich color and bold taste. Like all cocoa powders, however, dark-cocoa powder can be poorly soluble, and dark-cocoa powder in particular can taste very bitter. To solve this, cocoa processors have historically put dark-cocoa powders through an alkalizing process to neutralize the cocoa’s acids (removing the bitterness), while also reducing the cocoa’s butter (fat) to improve solubility. The problem? In today’s clean-label environment, consumers may want a reduced-additives alternative that doesn’t include an alkalizing agent like the potash (potassium carbonate) typical in cocoa processing. For companies looking for a “natural” dark-cocoa powder-one that skips the alkalizing agent, or alkali, completely-cocoa supplier Archer Daniels Midland (ADM; Rolle, Switzerland) has added to its deZaan cocoa range a new option called TrueDark.

ADM says TrueDark it is the first dark, non-alkalized cocoa powder “that mimics the enhanced color and flavor intensities of alkalized cocoa powders.” To create TrueDark, the company had to develop some unique technology. “Producing a powder with the features of an alkalized cocoa powder, without the use of additives, has been extremely challenging,” a company representative tells Nutritional Outlook. “Delivering the flavor, the rich taste, and color of an alkalized cocoa powder without alkali has been a major research effort by deZaan technologists.”

Now that the company has achieved TrueDark, formulators using it can simplify their ingredient listing. “Irrespective of what people think of alkali, cocoa processed with alkali is not a short label declaration,” the ADM representative continues. “In the United States, there have been court cases against producers that used alkalized cocoa powders who were using a natural claim for their products. TrueDark is a powder, which is not alkalized or treated with any additives, and hence can just be labeled with cocoa.”

TrueDark isn’t the only natural-cocoa option on the market. If companies truly want a natural cocoa, they could, for instance, turn to the lighter, natural-cocoa powders already available. But, as ADM explains, depending on the formulation, the light brown color and mild cocoa flavor of a light, natural-cocoa powder might not suit every recipe-especially those seeking bold flavor and color. With TrueDark, now formulators have that natural dark-cocoa alternative.

Rinus Heemskerk, ADM Cocoa/deZaan global innovation director, says TrueDark performs well in many categories, including ice cream, confectionery, bakery, cookies, and chocolate-flavored dessert applications.


Jennifer Grebow
Nutritional Outlook magazine

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