February 21, 2012
There's a dark side to chocolate, and it's actually pretty sweet. Dark chocolate is being increasingly recognized by consumers as a dessert that packs its weight when it comes to both health and flavor, and the restaurants and hospitality establishments that meet this growing demand are realizing substantial profits.
However, there are unique challenges that come with catering to consumers who are seeking the true dark chocolate experience: cocoa as a commodity has become increasingly scarce (both due to geopolitics, droughts and heightened demand) and dark chocolate requires a significantly greater concentration of the cocoa ingredient, putting extra pressure on procurement programs. Additionally, savvy consumers will want to know more regarding specifics when it comes to the ingredients they order, and even those who are new to the trend are much more likely to turn to dark chocolate products when they're trained to appreciate the nuances of the ingredient.
"There are 450 different flavor elements in a single cacao bean, which itself varies in taste depending on where it is grown," explains Chocolate.org. "Chocolate from Colombia might seem peppery, while chocolate from Venezuela might smell like vanilla, for example. This is driving demand for an über premium version: the so-called single-estate chocolate bar, which sources its beans from a single location."
And the use of chocolate is not wholly limited to the dessert section, for example the cocoa nib can be used to create savory dishes as well, offering restaurateurs many profitable opportunities for unique menu items with health benefits. In addition to providing several dark chocolate options on their menus, restaurants and hotels will profit most from this demand by including information for guests regarding the source and quality of the ingredients used, as well as general health benefits associated with dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is a known megasource of powerful antioxidants, which tout cardiovascular, cancer-fighting and anti-aging benefits. Additionally, cacao has been shown to reduce blood pressure and clotting in the arteries, and it can be surprisingly gentle on one's blood sugar, making it a marketable alternative for some diabetics. That's not to mention its ability to release endorphins, something that hospitality leaders can easily advertise as a sweet addition to any culinary experience at their establishments.
Avendra customers can login to myAvendra.com to find chocolate products and suppliers available in their area.
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