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A step-by-step guide to developing a new chocolate product

An NPD process that works smoothly for chocolate market segments, the Luker way

new chocolate products

Read the entire blog or pick the process that you are eager to understand from our approach

New Product development (NPD) is the process of bringing an original product idea to market. Whilst this can differ by industry and market, ultimately all teams will follow a framework to bring a product idea to life.

Yet, the difference is being able to find and work with a reliable partner, or supplier that can act as an extension of your team.

With so many new and adaptable ways to build a product, there’s an added constant pressure to act faster and more efficiently than ever. To keep up with the rising demand from consumers for better products, every step of the NPD process must push for innovation. Exploring market trends, new talent, and being technology savvy to optimise and enhance operations.

Using single-origin fine chocolates as the starting point, the Luker value chain allows us to develop custom gourmet chocolate products for a client’s own brand or the flexibility of a chocolate production line that a business requires.

Not only does Luker want to build a product for our clients that appeals to a substantial number of consumers, but we believe in quality and forming unique characteristics. All whilst implementing a manufacturing process that can be operated without excessive waste.

For Karen Suárez, Luker Chocolate’s New Business Development Director, this means she is set with multiple challenges as part of the client acquisition team across North America for all prospects considered private label, retail, or brand owners.

Her mission? To show the vast and unique capabilities of Luker’s team and communicate effectively to form trust.

dark chocolate manufacturers

Step 1 – Identify the product interest in a particular category 

As a chocolate manufacturing company, Luker’s offerings include a wide range of chocolate bars, dragées, chips, and cocoa powders. This sits alongside the ability to access unique ingredients for inclusion in a client’s product, should they so wish.

Balancing both wider environmental and personal health concerns is a huge responsibility within the confectionery industry, all whilst making sure the final product is delicious and doesn’t lose its indulgence. Luker therefore must tailor to fit the requirements and demands of our clients so they too can remain relevant.

snacking chocolate manufacturersSome of our solutions for new product development may include cashews, almonds and chickpea with coating types such as naked, cocoa-dusted and glossy. 

At this initial stage, it is important to work shoulder to shoulder with a prospect to define their requirements. Understanding whether they need a service or product that fits within confectionery, snacks, baking, or drinking chocolate, and how our manufacturing capabilities can fulfill their needs.

We often find retailers who might already know what they are looking for.  But a small business owner will want to be presented with many possibilities.

New healthier chocolate products arise in NPD projects

In the last 12 months, health trends have come to the fore including healthier chocolate alternatives – low in sugar or sugar alternatives, as well as traceability and transparency. Criteria Luker has developed and continues to do so through our Balance line and Single Origins.

It is our role to adhere to these requests, monitor and predict the market trends and assure a consistent supply moving forward, so they never have to worry about production or staying ahead of the curb.

Step 2 – Validate the required claims

Secondly, a product must appeal to a substantial number of consumers. According to a global survey (Accenture 2020), over 70% of consumers surveyed ranked personal health as their top priority since the pandemic.

New lifestyles demand new protein sources: high protein chocolates to save the day.

In addition, functional product launches have grown 276% and 115% in the UK and the US respectively. These figures alone are evidence of new emerging trends as consumers look for a balanced lifestyle. But this does not mean they want to sacrifice taste.

For many, the experience of biting into a bar of chocolate or the first sip of hot cocoa will bring back pleasant memories taking them to a place of relaxation. Whilst consumers want a product that can be considered ‘healthy, environmentally friendly’ or ‘unique’ unless they enjoy the product you cannot expect repeat purchases.

Product validation ensures Luker is creating a product for a client that people will pay for. For this reason, we will only offer ready-to-launch products that are high in demand across mass markets with the guaranteed, delicious taste of Cacao Fino de Aroma.

The key is showing the client through market data where we see a growing opportunity, be it Non-GMO, kosher, organic, or plant-based, which is particularly popular right now due to the conscious consumer. If the final product is properly aligned to the opportunity presented and meets the taste criteria, it’s ready for the taking!

new chocolate trendsEvery consumer has different goals that can be achieved with our manufacturing capabilities.

Step 3 – Finding the perfect chocolate

Within any market, consumers will be quick to recognise quality and desirability. If there is a quality problem, the news will quickly spread, and sales will drop. It is simply not enough to claim ‘Gluten Free’ or ‘Sugar-Free’ characteristics. The fundamental flavour of the product still counts.

All Luker’s chocolate ingredients guarantee a unique flavour served by the pureness of its origins. Whilst all products include carefully selected beans from different Cacao Fino de Aroma growing regions, the choice of milk, dark or white will reflect not only the cocoa variety but also the richness and growing culture of the region it comes from.

We have a chocolate product development consultant team

As our product development team can adhere to, as part of the ideation process, we conduct in-depth interviews to understand client challenges and objectives, and to create a product that meets global appetite. Whether the product is sugar-free, no-added-sugar, or includes a natural sugar alternative, each product is designed to heighten sensations and capture a precious moment through delicious taste.

For the cleaner label alternatives, clients can maintain the unique characteristics of Luker Chocolate’s Cocoa Fino de Aroma. Mixing the natural antioxidant power of cacao and the rich benefits of these alternatives to create new and dynamic products.

Step 4 – Adding texture and flavour

Once we have landed on a category and couverture type, we have another stage to be more experimental and support our clients in standing out from the crowd. Product development provides an excellent opportunity to remove allergens from existing products. But it is also time to consider new ingredients.

Reaching more than 40 countries with customers in a wide spectrum of F&B categories, our portfolio of chocolate ingredients and private label solutions makes the best from the diversity of Colombian fine flavour cocoas.

It is our priority and within our manufacturing capabilities to ensure all products comply with any allergen regulations, but with this flexibility, we can also manufacture with nuts, salt, nibs, custom-made flavours like strawberry, and textures such as jelly or crunchy peppermint to meet a client’s vision.

Step 5 – The packaging prototype

Whilst competitors can compete across sourcing, manufacturing progress and ingredients, they can’t copy a bespoke story that will guarantee a reason to purchase.

Best chocolate brands have something special on their packaging  

At its most basic level, product packaging serves to protect the product inside, however, every chocolate product needs the right packaging to fly off the shelves. Be it a flowpack, aluminium, paper, doypack, a pouch, can, or sachet, caring about the way in which products are packaged means we can find ways to be cost-effective and efficient for our clients.

Speaking decoratively (and this is the fun part), the accompaniment we provide for our clients by co-creating the packaging concept adds suspense and excitement as it lands in the hands of a consumer. It is the first thing a consumer will be aware of when they encounter the product, and even when opened, they’ll observe how the product is presented inside.

For clients, this is an opportunity for them to add their personal touch and share the product story. When working with retailers it is important for them to know that logos such as ‘The Chocolate Dream’ can be added to their packaging to demonstrate USPs and sustainability initiatives.

As a Colombian, family-owned chocolate manufacturer of fine chocolates and cocoa crafted at origin, we can guarantee our products are made exclusively from directly sourced Cacao Fino de Aroma and are characterised for their superior taste and diversity. All additional benefits which clients can claim on their packaging or state their ingredients to stand out.

packaging for chocolate brandsAvailable packaging formats for your products

Being able to guarantee sourcing and transparency for our clients is a seal of trust for our clients. Many corporations now want to embed fair labour practices and environmental responsibility throughout their supply networks. With our fully transparent value chain, Luker can guarantee this, whilst creating top-tier chocolate products.

On a day-by-day basis, I am most passionate about sharing the progress of Colombia with our clients through product development. When we arrive with a value proposition that can benefit a region or large part of the country, we also demonstrate that Colombia is much more than ‘quality coffee’.

Through chocolate, we can impact another area of the globe, generating more products to delight customers worldwide.

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