The Food & Drink team at SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), has supported two Scottish businesses to develop chocolate products to capitalise on consumer trends. Wellbeing start-up, Revivein10, has created a range of ‘healthy’ chocolate and social enterprise, Grace Chocolates changing lives, will soon launch luxury vegan chocolates. Working with the development chef at SRUC, both companies have focused on quality, natural ingredients with minimal additives.
Alistair Trail of the SAC Consulting Food & Drink team said: “In the UK, consumers are more acutely aware of the nutritional or ethical value of the food they eat, particularly in the 25-35 age group, and ‘healthy’ chocolate is a growth market. The challenge with chocolate is altering the ingredients without losing the familiarity of the flavour or texture profile associated with it. Our SRUC Development Chef Mark Barker has a wealth of experience and technical knowledge, as well as an innate thirst for finding the right ingredient or balance that makes the product the best it can be. He has worked with both Grace Chocolates and Revivein10 through several iterations to ensure the final product will entice and retain their target markets.”
A nurse by day, Susie Greig has a professional and personal interest in wellbeing. As part of her Revivein10 online toolkit which offers practical bitesize advice to improve health and wellbeing, she wanted to create a range of “healthy” chocolate made with natural, organic wholefoods. She approached SAC Consulting on the advice of Interface, which connects businesses with academics.
Keen for her customers to enjoy sweet treats without the guilt, she said: “Most chocolate will give you a wonderful high, then a slump, but by using wholefood ingredients and only natural sugars from these, we have created a chocolate that retains the nutritional benefits of the raw ingredients and has a lower glycaemic index to make you feel full and satisfied for longer. I had tried and tested a recipe for dark chocolate but some people find the high cocoa content too bitter. I was struggling to effectively replicate the flavour and texture of the more popular milk chocolate. Working with SAC Consulting, we explored various levels of sweetness and using different plant-based ingredients to mirror the milky-ness. Mark’s technical insights into which ingredients to try and how they would react together was invaluable, and after a series of tweaks we have created a product we are really proud of and I’m excited to bring to market.”
The new Revivein10 range includes plain and orange in both the dark and milk chocolates and an additional peppermint in the dark version. A raspberry flavour is still in development, as Susie continues to seek a source of natural raspberry oil to use instead of the more readily available raspberry powder which can create a grainy texture in chocolate.
SAC Consulting has also supported Susie to develop sustainable packaging for the chocolate range, which will be available to buy online from her website.
Grace Chocolates, which made its first chocolates in 2017, is a social enterprise set up by Joyce Murray to support women who have touched the Scottish criminal justice system through the production of “exquisitely wrapped” luxury chocolates.
When she moved to Stirling in 2013, Joyce had volunteered – alongside her corporate career – at the Family Hub Centre at HMP Cornton Vale in order to become more involved in the local community. This brought her into contact with women leaving prison and she saw an opportunity to support the women using an enterprise to help restore confidence and self-esteem through training in the workplace. Finding herself frustrated to be unable to find a beautifully packaged box of chocolates as a gift, she decided to support the women while making her own, which is how Grace Chocolates changing lives started.
Now with a growing base of corporate, retail and website customers, including florists and its first and longest standing customer, the Scottish Parliament gift shop, Grace Chocolates makes thousands of white, milk and dark chocolate truffles a year. The women are supported by a small staff team and “a wonderful team” of volunteers who gift their time and talents.
Following a number of trade and consumer events at which customers had been asking for vegan chocolate truffles, Joyce approached SAC Consulting to look at options for producing a vegan and nut free chocolate truffle. Some dark chocolates on close inspection have a trace element of dairy, Joyce explains, and the aim was to produce something suitable for those following a vegan diet while also meeting other dietary requirements.
She said: “I had underestimated the complexity of the process and there were more challenges than anticipated, but it was worth it for the result. Mark hit on one – secret! – ingredient which was completely left field but surprisingly was what made it work. The whole process was a very rewarding experience and I appreciated the support of the team at SAC Consulting always guiding with suggestions and ideas, and their perseverance. We are looking forward to being able to offer vegan chocolates to our customers and continuing to develop the range.”
Both businesses have delayed the launch of their new products until the Covid-19 crisis has passed.
Revivein10 range will be available to buy online from www.revivein10.co.uk. To keep up to date in the meantime see https://www.facebook.com/revivein10/
Grace Chocolates vegan range will be available to buy online from http://www.gracechocolates.co.uk/. To keep up to date see https://www.facebook.com/gracechocolatesUK/