AAK has developed a range of fats for chocolate and confectionery manufacturers designed to boost the growing popularity and premiumisation of caramel. Andrea Pluck reports.

AAK has created a portfolio of clean label and plant-based fats from sustainable sources that are set to benefit confectionery manufacturers who are seeking to create premium caramel.

The new AKOMEL range also provides non-hydrogenated, non-trans and low-saturated fat options.

A premium category

According to Euromonitor, caramel is one of the fastest-growing confectionery categories, with value sales set to increase by about 5% between 2020 and 2023. This will outstrip volume growth over the same period (2.5%), indicating that caramel has established itself as a premium category. In addition, caramel is the fastest-growing flavour component in indulgent categories such as chocolate and confectionery.
This trend towards premiumisation is further supported by Mintel data demonstrating that there has been an increase in the number of new launches of higher-priced caramel products. In addition, the number of launches of cheaper caramel products is declining.
Process and cost control

The caramel category covers toffee, fudge and nougat – with textures ranging from the hard and chewy to very soft and melt-in-the-mouth. The fat content in caramel is typically 5-15% and plays a major role in terms of its flavour, mouthfeel and texture.
How the fat melts in relation to human body temperature is an important part of the taste experience. Apart from having the desired sensory quality, caramel must be stable enough to retain its shape at room temperature and ensure it does not stick to packaging.

Speciality vegetable fats can provide improved process control and lower costs without compromising clean label appeal. They are also vegan-friendly and aligned with demand for plant-based foods.

Vegan and plant-based foods are strong trends and high in the top of mind of consumers nowadays. Consumers’ awareness of products that are good for themselves but also good for the planet seems to be an important driver of their purchasing decisions.

Mouthfeel and rich taste

Luis Parra, Global Business Director Chocolate & Confectionery Fats at AAK, said: “Generally, we are seeing a movement towards more sophisticated, adult-oriented sweets that consumers would want to give as a gift on a special occasion.
“With its luxurious mouthfeel and rich taste, caramel delivers an indulgent experience that’s in tune with this. AKOMEL™ solutions are tailored vegetable fats and therefore a particularly good choice when developing caramel products for the growing premium market, where high-quality ingredients and cleaner formulations are key drivers.”
Rikke Mikkelsen, Customer Innovation Director at AAK added: “At AAK, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of the caramel market. We are ready to supply our extensively tested AKOMEL™ solutions for a range of applications, and our co-development experts are always on-hand to support our customers’ projects.”