Iconic Japanese food company Meiji recently announced a new macadamia variant of their much-loved high cacao chocolate “Chocolate Koka” range. Launched in February, Chocolate Koka Cacao 72% Rich Macadamia – a boxed chocolate with nine pieces per pack – matches dark chocolate with the flavour and sweetness of roasted macadamias and is designed to appeal to consumers who have grown more health conscious.
Elevating the health benefits of Chocolate Koka
Meiji has led a strong education campaign around cacao as a superfood, featuring the high proportion of beneficial cacao polyphenols in their Chocolate Koka range.
“In recent years, customers have become more aware of the health benefits of nuts and consumers now regard them as a healthy snack,” a spokesperson for Meiji says. “The beneficial polyphenols from cacao are a central part of the Chocolate Koka story, and macadamias contain oleic acid, palmitoleic acid and dietary fibre, so we can promote this as a healthy product that combines the benefits of both high-cacao chocolate and macadamias.”
It’s not just the health benefits of macadamias that are appealing. The taste and texture of the nuts are particularly complimentary to the bitterness of the high-polyphenol dark chocolate. “The natural flavour and richness of macadamia nuts make the bitter taste of high-cacao chocolate much milder. So the taste appeals to consumers who find the regular Chocolate Koka too bitter,” says the company representative.
Consumers focus on health and small pleasures
Meiji is carefully monitoring the rise of health-conscious consumption following the spread of the coronavirus, and a recent survey run by the company revealed a notable increase in health concern among consumers.
“Our survey showed that 60% of people are now more concerned and conscious about their health, compared to pre-COVID. This will drive demand for healthier between-meal snacks, so we’re focused on products that not only taste great but have health credentials as well,” says Meiji’s spokesperson.
Meiji has been leading the discussion of their chocolate as a healthy option among health conscious Japanese consumers for some time. “We found that 80% of Japanese chocolate consumers are concerned about excessive sugar intake, with 70% limiting their chocolate consumption as a result. However, cacao – one of chocolate’s main ingredients – is a superfood which contains lots of cacao polyphenol and dietary fibre,” says the spokesperson.
Meiji recommends that consumers treat Chocolate Koka Cacao 72% Rich Macadamia as a ‘small pleasure’ to make the most of the product’s health benefits. “The cacao polyphenols are metabolically active and not held in the body, so we recommend people eat a little bit at a time to keep up the effect throughout the day. It’s a small pleasure to look forward to.”
It’s a consumption approach that’s very much on trend, with recent Australian Macadamias consumer insights research1 revealing that almost half of consumers globally value these smaller moments in everyday life over occasional big experiences and milestones to keep them happy.
Innovating with an established brand
While companies are often reluctant to tamper with established brands that are already crowd-favourites, Meiji has reason to believe the combined benefits of high cacao dark chocolate and macadamias will be a success. The company first launched Chocolate Koka in 1998, and persisted with formula improvements to improve the taste until it was a favourite with consumers.
“It took about 15 years for this product to take a root in the market. We worked hard to improve the quality. Through repeated trial and error, we have been able to blend the beans and thoroughly improve our processing to create a delicious high cacao chocolate that is rich in cacao polyphenols, has a gorgeous cacao aroma and a moderate bitterness. It’s a process that is ongoing and we will continue to refine our products,” says Meiji’s representative.
So far customers are enthusiastic about the new Chocolate Koka range, with the company saying the combination of the “just-right bitterness of the chocolate and roasted aroma of the macadamias” is garnering positive feedback.
It’s exciting to see macadamias playing a role in catering to health-focused consumption trends that have emerged around the world.