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Chasing Chocolate

by News Desk

Chocolate and wellness may not be two words traditionally used together, but that is changing fast. 

That’s because whether it’s functional mushrooms, skin-boosting bites or probiotic yogurt, wellness brands are looking to chocolate to create indulgent but good-for-you products.

As consumers have doubled down on their wellness routines over the past few years, new supplement formats have grown in popularity due to pill fatigue. Most notably, gummy supplements saw an uptick in 2022 with 41 percent of consumers preferring the format, according to Mintel. However, as gummies often include a higher sugar content, other formats, most notably all-natural chocolate, are gaining traction. 

Moon Juice Cosmic Cocoa

Some brands hopped onto this trend early. For example, in 2017 Moon Juice launched its Cosmic Cocoa, $30, an adaptogenic hot chocolate powder that supports libido, mood and skin. Search data from Spate shows that chocolate searched alongside collagen peptides is significant with nearly 25 percent year-over-year growth.

And now more brands are following suit when it comes to chocolate supplements.

For Alice founders Lindsay Goodstein and Charlotte Cruze, chocolate was the ideal vehicle to provide consumers with functional mushrooms that also happened to be delicious. 

“When I started looking, [functional mushrooms] were all powders, pills, tinctures, gummies that were made with artificial ingredients and I more so wanted to lean into indulgence,” said Goodstein, also the brand’s chief executive officer. “There’s something to say about wellness, not having to be so uncomfortable and celebrating something that’s good for you.” 

The Coconut Cult Probiotic Coconut Yogurt in Chocolate Mousse.

Elsewhere, the Coconut Cult is celebrating the power of probiotics, typically taken in a pill format, through its daily probiotic yogurt. Its chocolate mousse flavor offers 25 billion probiotics and the addition of cacao provides fiber, which also supports healthy digestion.

While chocolate-based supplements address consumer demand for more enjoyable wellness routines, the ingredient also poses several additional benefits that brands like The Coconut Cult are harnessing.  

“Chocolate, when it’s pure, has a lot of oils in it. That makes it a really good carrier for certain types of molecules,” explained Dr. Sarah J. Robbins, gastroenterologist and founder of Well Sunday. “It’s actually a good way of getting fat-soluble nutrients [like vitamin A, D, E and K] into something that’s a good carrier and it can get into your body and into your bowel and then it helps it to be digested and absorbed… Dark chocolate that’s minimally processed has a lot of antioxidants in it.” It also contains high sources of minerals like zinc and magnesium.

Sourse Glow Bites

Chocolate’s nutrient absorption and snackability were key factors for Sourse, which recently launched at Sephora, when formulating its bite-sized beauty-boosting and well-being supplements.

“Dark chocolate is a natural prebiotic with polyphenols that actually aid in nutrient absorption,” said Sourse cofounder and chief executive officer Jenne Moore. “The biggest thing that we’ve seen or heard from our customers is it’s easy to remember and when you don’t remember your pill or powder every day you’re not going to see results. Everyone’s after results… and consumers are seeing that snackable, convenient form factors are what’s driving that for them.”

Reports from Mintel show that by using alternative formats, brands will be more successful, especially with younger consumers, by offering more enjoyable experiences — think functional food or indulgent formats.

But while chocolate supplements are addressing consumer demand for alternative formats, founders in the space don’t expect an influx of entrants to the market due to the difficult formulation process caused by the ingredient’s profile and melting point.

“From a formulating perspective, there’s a lot of challenges to it because chocolate you can only mix powder. You can’t mix any oils or liquids and then obviously flavor, you’re making something that is supposed to taste good,” said Cruze. “There’s definitely a barrier to entry into working with chocolate and I think you have to be really dedicated and passionate and know you want to work with chocolate to make it work.”

With this in mind, experts recommend seeking out high quality chocolates.

“The purer the better, the closer to source the better,” said Robbins.

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