Skip to main content

How University of Guelph researchers are working to bring down the cost of chocolate


The cost of filling Easter baskets with chocolate has soared, but food scientists at the University of Guelph say they’ve developed ways to bring the price down.

Food science professor Alejandro Marangoni and research associate Saeed Ghazani have traded in the white hat of traditional chocolatiers for a white lab coat.

They’ve also noticed the cost of chocolate isn’t nearly as sweet as it tastes.

“Nowadays, many people would prepare to invest in cocoa butter instead of Bitcoin,” said Ghazani.

Long-term shortages of cocoa beans in west Africa, paired with extreme weather, is leading to crop failures of cacao trees, ultimately driving up the overall price of chocolate because of shortages and increased demand.

“The price is doubling, tripling, quadrupling. Some people say it will even go five times higher than before all of this was happening,” said Marangoni.

The team of researchers believes one method to keep the cost of creating chocolate down is by using a fraction of shea butter and a fraction of palm oil.

“And not only mixing these two fractions together, but changing them with the use of enzymes. So it’s a natural process so that the final product really behaves, looks and gives you the quality of cocoa butter,” said Marangoni.

That cuts down on the use of cocoa butter, which is one of the most expensive fats in the world.

They also discovered adding the molecule phospholipid eliminates the lengthy and costly process of tempering, which is the repeated heating and cooling of melted chocolate to create structure.

“And then those will direct the whole crystallization without going through these very complicated procedures that a chocolatier or a tempering machine does,” said Marangoni.

He doesn’t expect large-scale producers to put all their chocolate eggs in this basket of methods, given how much they’ve invested in tempering equipment.

But even if smaller chocolatiers buy in, it could make for some happier bellies and bank accounts.

Is it still chocolate?

Given all the modifications to the way the chocolate can be made, is it still considered chocolate?

Marangoni says it depends on how much of a purist you are.

“If you want to eat your 100 per cent chocolate in Canada and the U.S. there’s legislation and a standard of identity for chocolate,” he says. “So you cannot add a foreign component.”

He says in the future, perhaps the legislation might have to change so other components can be added. Or it may come down to becoming more comfortable with different labelling.

“People would have to relax and be happy with eating ‘candy bars,’ [rather than ‘chocolate bars’]. Especially for Easter,” said Marangoni. Top Stories

Stay Connected