People seeking healthier food options has led to new menu additions at restaurants and a variety of product launches from major brands.
Smaller candy companies have already taken note (with one even offering keto-friendly gummy bears). Now, one of the world's largest confectioners says it has created a totally new type of chocolate that's made without any added sugar.
Nestle's newest Kit Kat will still have a sweet flavor since it's made with cocoa fruit, but what makes it different from regular chocolate is that this bar, which is 70% dark chocolate, is made using the entire cacao fruit, including the pulp around the cacao bean, which is normally thrown out.
"We’re proud to bring chocolate lovers a new chocolate made entirely from the cocoa fruit without adding refined sugar," Patrice Bula, head of Strategic Business Units, Marketing and Sales at Nestle, said in a statement. "This is a real innovation which uses the natural sweetness of the cocoa pulp to provide a pure, novel chocolate experience." The new chocolate will only be used in Kit Kat bars for now but could conceivably be used to make a variety of other treats in the future.
The new bar comes off the heels of other Nestle innovations, like the new ruby chocolate Kit Kats, which first launched in Japan last year before expanding to other markets.
Previously, the pulp was sometimes used during the cocoa bean fermentation process, which occurs after harvesting, but this is the first time it's being used as a main ingredient to naturally sweeten chocolate.
When asked for specifics about the candy's nutritional profile, Nestle would not provide details to TODAY.
But could this new chocolate conceivably be healthier? Maybe, says one expert.
"It could be a better candy bar if it has less sugar and doesn’t [replace] sugar with artificial ingredients," Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and the author of "Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table," told TODAY in an email. However, it's definitely not a health food.
Said Taub-Dix, "It’s still a candy bar. The value in the bar is pleasure, we’re not looking to these foods as a source of valuable nutrients."
"That being said, if companies are able to create products that contain less ingredients that we should be eating less of — like sugar, sodium and harmful fats — then it’s a step in the right direction," she said.
The new Kit Kat bars will first go on sale in Japan later this year. To promote the new chocolate, one Kit Kat speciality shop in Japan started offering a fruit juice and an icy granita dessert made from cocoa pulp this week. If the initial tests prove successful, the new bar will be available globally in 2020.