But why do we eat more and more bitter chocolate?

For Christmas, your chocolate will probably be in the picture in the year 2022: bitter. On the shelves of your favorite supermarket, you may have noticed the increased space that dark chocolate has. With degrees of cocoa sometimes very nervous, like 85, 90, even 99%. In our Franprix in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, cashier Sandrine testifies: “It’s selling like hotcakes and it’s increasing year after year”. The strategic location of the tablets also testifies to this: right in front of the cash registers, in the same rank as Kinder Bueno, sweets and chewing gum, among these “last pleasure purchases before payment”.

We remember the equation for very few nutritionists: the more a chocolate is filled with cocoa, the more bitter it is and the less sugar it contains. And even historical recipes follow this trend. This year, Milka – albeit milk chocolate – took the leap after more than 3,000 tests with French and German consumers. The new recipe contains 10% more cocoa, 5% less sugar. “The biggest change in twenty-five years,” announces the brand. Céline Perollaz, Senior Product Manager France at Milka, says: “Consumer feedback has shown us a trend towards a more intense, cocoa flavor and lower sugar flavor. Pierre-Louis Desprez, associate director of Kaos Consulting, an innovation consultancy, explains this change anthropologically: The Western population is getting older, and the older we are, the less we tend to consume sugar, or even to consume it. Who has never had the experience of reliving one of their childhood pleasures in adulthood and find it too sweet, or have a stomach ache afterwards?We get older and our palates settle down.

sugar hunt

This metabolic change due to the canonical age of Westerners is not the only explanation. Even among the youngest, sugar tends to escape, notes Marie-Eve Laporte, teacher-researcher at IAE Paris-Sorbonne and specialist in the development of eating behavior : “It is the whole of society that goes in search of sugar, not just chocolate. »

First criterion for this demonization, the health aspect: “The perception of nutritional risk is growing, the population is more and more sensitive to what it eats and is asking the question of the long-term effects on health”, continues the expert. We no longer stop sugar only for fear of cavities, but also “because of the problems of obesity, much more visible and informed in our time, of cancers…”.

The square of healthy dark chocolate

In 2007, Mars had already changed its recipe in France to adapt to new consumer trends: lighter bars (42 grams instead of 50) and fewer calories (180 kcal against the previous 240). Chocapic cereals have reduced their amount of sugar by 41% between 2003 and 2021: from 42 grams per 100 grams to 24.9. The wisest among you will say that dark chocolate is just as, if not more, caloric than milk chocolate. True, but the high cocoa content maintains its reputation as an excellent food with nutritionists. We will remember it when we have you: calories have nothing to do with the nutritional quality or not of a food.

Marie-Eve Laporte sees it as “ripe for a healthy and healthy diet. So less sugar, but also less bad fat and more good food”. A category to which cocoa belongs, praised for its very good lipids, not to mention its magnesium and other nutritional pearls. Here it has been driven to the top of sales thanks to its dual effect “to do good in terms of taste and health, two values ​​that we tend to oppose”, concludes the expert. Because we don’t get to lying to each other, “healthy” green beans don’t melt in the mouth so well.

It is the bitterness that takes the man

Taste is precisely the second trend that Marie-Eve Laporte analyzes to explain the shame of sugar: “The latter is known to kill the taste, and people who consume very sweet products have the image of people without a palate or with regressive taste. . Same observation by Pierre-Louis Desprez: “Chocolatiers wanted to segment their market into age categories and therefore now created specific ranges for adults to gain market share. This explains the rise of dark chocolate and a lot of cocoa. »

The question remains, does too much cocoa not kill the cocoa, by making the chocolate too bitter – or “intense” in more marketing terms? For Marie-Eve Laporte, it would be a matter of growing up and being updated: “Bitterness is a taste that is rejected by babies and that develops with age. It is therefore a taste that is well thought out socially, because it is a sign of a fine palate that understands complex things well”. Signs of a true fashion, we also talked about the arrival by virtue of the bitter in this paper on … IPA beer. “This should continue in this direction and increase in the coming years,” warns Marie-Eve Laporte. Come on, it’s time to grow up.

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