ofi uses artificial intelligence to predict regional cocoa flavours

olam food ingredients’ AI-powered research predicts a greater fusion of Eastern and Western flavours in confectionery, bakery, beverages, and snacks as the next big cocoa flavour trends.

The research combined the insights of its innovation experts in key regional markets and Ai Palette’s predictive analytics to scan online recipes, restaurant menus and e-commerce sites for budding trends before they hit the mainstream. The ingredients company has created an interactive flavour map for more insights into the research and to delve into the full collection of cocoa pairings and applications.

The researchers found Asian flavours like dragon fruit, sesame, yuzu, lychee and matcha are taking off in the US and Europe, while Western flavours like butterscotch, marshmallow, salted caramel and cookies & cream are becoming more popular in South Asian countries, including Indonesia and India.

Olam Food Ingredients’ (ofi’s) ingredients innovation experts have now turned these trends into adventurous cocoa pairings and dishes we could see on menus or in stores soon.

Edward Norder, head of EMENA innovation, ofi, noted that increasing globalisation means flavour trends are crossing borders faster than ever. And thanks to social media, a local craze can turn into a worldwide phenomenon overnight.

“This is a big opportunity for food and beverage companies to get ahead, but first they need to be able to pair the right flavours and translate emerging trends into great-tasting products in the development kitchen,” Norder said. “That’s why we have created new cocoa pairings and innovative concepts inspired by this ‘East meets West’ trend. From chocolate-coated dragon fruit ice cream and a yuzu-infused chocolate panna cotta for the US, to a chipotle chili, lime and passionfruit dessert for Germany, and a black forest and cocoa flavoured frappe-style drink for Indonesia.”

According to Norder, choosing the right cocoa powder is a powerful tool for helping manufacturers win on taste. By sharing the research he believes the findings will inspire customers to look again at cocoa as a pairing for “fresh, on-trend flavour combinations and applications” that will surprise and delight consumers around the globe.

“Thanks to our network of Customer Solutions Centers, we’re well placed to support customers with ingredients that can be sustainable and traceable, and to test whether these new concepts can be commercialised at scale,” Norder added.

The top flavour trends by geography are:


  • Dragon Fruit – starting to trend in the UK in bakery. The punchy flavour pairs perfectly with deZaan’s N11N cocoa powder in pastries or N21N cocoa powder in ice cream or sorbet.
  • Sesame – becoming popular in bakery in France, this flavour pairs excellently with deZaan’s D11S – a deep intense cocoa flavour – in a chocolate banana brioche.
  • Chilli – emerging particularly in German confectionery, particular in a chocolate bar. It also works with deZaan’s TrueDark – a rich natural cocoa powder with notes of nuts and fruits – in a chipotle chili, lime and passionfruit dessert.


  • Lychee – growing in popularity in the bakery category, it pairs well with deZaan’s D23A cocoa powder – a full chocolatey taste and creamy texture – in a rich pastry filling.
  • Yuzu – also booming in the bakery space, this works excellently with deZaan’s N11N – a well-rounded cocoa powder with delicate fruity notes – in a panna cotta.
  • Miso – emerging in confectionery, this pairs with deZaan’s Rich Terracotta, with notes of chocolate, nuts and caramel, in chocolate fudge.


  • Marshmallow – on the rise in confectionery in Indonesia. This flavour pairs well with deZaan’s 254DP11 – a premium cocoa powder with an intense cocoa flavour in a nougat or in a S’mores-style breakfast cereal.
  • Black Forest – also growing in popularity in Indonesia beverages. This punchy flavour blends perfectly in a frappe-style drink with deZaan’s 350DP11 – with a rich and full-bodied chocolate taste.
  • Cookies and Cream – an emerging trend in India in confectionery, this classic sweet flavour combination is the perfect match for deZaan’s H910N, in ice cream, confectionery and frappes.

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