What would Willy Wonka think? Tom Mulier reports in Bloomberg:
The recipe for chocolate bars is fairly standard: cocoa, cocoa butter or other oils, sweeteners, and perhaps some nuts or a fruity filling. Now, with prices for cocoa, sugar, and other commodities soaring, candy makers are finding a simple ingredient — air — can help pump up profits.
Nestlé is making a big push for its aerated chocolate brand, Aero, Barry Callebaut is adding more air to fillings, and Cadbury last year launched a new version of its aerated Wispa bars after reintroducing the brand in 2007.
In the past four years, cocoa prices have more than doubled amid poor harvests and growing demand. On Feb. 22, cocoa hit $3,608 a metric ton, a level it hadn’t reached in three decades. The price of sugar, the additive candy makers have often looked to when cocoa prices soar, is also on the rise as bad weather has damaged crops in Brazil. Refined-sugar futures reached $857 a metric ton on Feb. 2, the highest level since at least 1989.
That makes air a natural progression. Chocolate density can be cut by as much as half by using carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide to make bubbles, says Stephen Beckett, the author of The Science of Chocolate and a former researcher for Nestlé. “If you aerate [chocolate], it tends to be creamier,” Beckett says. “Its density is so low it melts very easily, and gives you a different taste.”
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