4 experts unwrap the secrets of chocolate’s sweet success

4 experts unwrap the secrets of chocolate’s sweet success

Business Influencers chocolate

While sweet treats come and go, chocolate’s popularity never seems to wane. Four industry leaders tell HN why they believe chocolate remains our go-to indulgence and share some of their mouthwatering creations. Prepare to have your taste buds tickled.

Tech meets artisanship

Over the decades, chocolate production has evolved in ways that have made processes faster and more e´cient, including the introduction of fully electronically controlled tempering machines. New techniques and the use of simple ingredients to prevent chocolate fillings from spoiling have also helped to prolong the shelf-life of chocolates. However, I believe that maintaining an artisanal and human touch is key for core quality. One of the things that makes me proud is that I have been able to retain an artisanal feel, while running a profitable business.

Moderation is key

If consumed in moderation, I regard chocolate as a healthy snack. Some manufacturers have replaced sugar with artificial sweeteners, which is helpful for consumers with certain health conditions. But for a healthy person, I believe that a smaller piece of chocolate is better than a 100-gram bar or artificially sweetened chocolate. It’s important not to fall into the trap of ‘healthy chocolate’ labeling from manufacturers. I encourage people to savor authentic flavors in moderation rather than in quantity.

Sensory journeys

I find inspiration everywhere in the world around me. Everyday experiences can trigger a sensation that inspires new flavors, from the sight of a young child to the kiss of a loved one. If I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, I immediately make a note of it and, come morning, go to my lab and turn that flash of inspiration into reality. A good chef can always taste a mixture of ingredients in the head before they reach the palate of the mouth. Our portfolio features hundreds of chocolates, each with a distinctive flavor. From decadent tru¸es to delicate bonbons, they all tell a story of meticulous craftsmanship and culinary ingenuity, inviting exploration of their depth and complexity.


Owner of Alpina SARL

Changing preferences and demands

The chocolate industry’s remarkable transformation can be attributed to several factors, including shifts in consumer tastes, advancements in technology and a growing emphasis on quality and sustainability. One of the key drivers is the changing preferences of consumers. With growing awareness about health and wellness, there has been a rise in demand for premium and artisanal chocolates made from high-quality ingredients. Consumers are also increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impact of chocolate production, leading to greater transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain. This has resulted in initiatives aimed at promoting fair trade practices, reducing carbon emissions and supporting cocoa farmers in developing countries.

High quality ingredients

The shift toward mindful and healthy indulgence in the chocolate industry represents a positive step toward creating a more holistic and responsible food ecosystem. This movement reflects a growing awareness about the importance of balancing enjoyment with well-being, as well as the broader societal and environmental impacts of food production and consumption. By choosing high quality ingredients, such as organic cocoa beans and natural sweeteners, chocolate producers can create products that taste delicious and also contribute to well-being. Incorporating functional ingredients like antioxidants and vitamins into chocolate formulations further enhances their nutritional value.

Jordanian inspiration

One of our creations, Jameed chocolate, represents an innovative fusion of traditional Jordanian cuisine with the world of confectionery. Inspired by the Jordanian dish Mansaf, Jameed chocolate combines savory and sweet elements in a single indulgent treat. The process of developing Jameed chocolate involves careful consideration of flavor profiles and ingredients to ensure a harmonious balance between the savory notes of Jameed (dried yogurt) and the sweetness of chocolate. By blending these contrasting flavors, our chocolate offers a unique and memorable taste experience that pays homage to Jordanian culinary traditions, while embracing creativity and experimentation.

HILDA HANNA ISSA AL MASRIEH CEO and owner of Chez Hilda Patisserie

CEO and owner of Chez Hilda Patisserie
@hildahosh; @chezhilda

Innovative flavors

Over the years, the chocolate industry has undergone a significant evolution. Changes include an increasing emphasis on the origin and quality of cacao, driven by a growing consumer awareness of ethical sourcing and sustainability practices. This shift has led to a surge in artisanal chocolate producers, particularly in Saudi Arabia, where the market for premium chocolates is rapidly expanding. Consumers are also seeking out unique flavor profiles and high-quality ingredients. As a result, artisanal chocolate makers are experimenting with innovative flavor combinations and sourcing cacao beans from diverse regions to create distinctive products.

Mindful indulgence

Today’s consumers are increasingly prioritizing health-conscious choices in their diets, prompting chocolate manufacturers to respond with innovative products that cater to these preferences. There is also a growing demand for chocolates with reduced sugar content, alternative sweeteners and the inclusion of functional ingredients, such as nuts, berries and spices, known for their health properties. This trend has led to the creation of a diverse range of healthier chocolate options that taste delicious and also oªer various health benefits. Additionally, manufacturers are employing transparent labeling and marketing strategies to communicate the nutritional value of their products.

Food meets art

In my work, I begin by selecting the highest quality beans, then explore how various flavors can synergize with or elevate the chocolate. My creations include a line of chocolates infused with local flavors and ingredients, such as Saudi dates, mint and Arabic coffee. This unique blend offers a taste of the region’s rich culinary heritage, while showcasing chocolate’s versatility. I have also ventured into sculptural chocolates, creating edible art pieces. These sculptural creations engage the senses, blurring the lines between food and art, helping me in my aim to elevate chocolate to a cultural experience that celebrates the diversity and creativity of the culinary world.

ROAA SAUD SABER CEO and master chocolatier at Feionkah Chocolate

CEO and master chocolatier at Feionkah Chocolate

Quality ingredients and craftsmanship

Initially, chocolate was predominantly linked with sweetness. However, in recent times, there has been a shift toward accommodating diverse dietary preferences and health-conscious consumers. The industry now provides options such as sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives, catering to individuals with specific dietary requirements. There is also an emphasis on the health benefits of dark chocolate, renowned for its rich antioxidants and associated health perks. Additionally, we’ve seen a growing fascination with single-origin chocolates, showcasing their unique flavors and characteristics. This evolution mirrors a broader trend toward mindful consumption and an appreciation for quality ingredients and craftsmanship. As consumer awareness continues to grow, chocolate producers are adapting to meet the demand for healthier and more diverse options.

Prioritizing flavor

We believe that chocolate should be a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, so we strive to create products that are both delicious and Instagram-worthy. Our attention to detail begins with the finishing touches of each chocolate creation, paying close attention to presentation, texture and color. However, flavor is always our top priority. We use only the finest ingredients and innovative flavor combinations to create chocolates.

Nutritious and delicious

Today, consumers are increasingly conscious of what they eat and seek products that not only satisfy their taste buds but also contribute to their overall well-being. Consequently, there’s a significant demand for products that offer both taste and well-being benefits. One of our innovations is our Healthy Gym Chocolate, a special blend of dry fruits and nuts, covered in chocolate. Developed in collaboration with gym coaches and nutritionists, this product is designed to be a delicious treat that also supports overall health and well-being. Packed with essential nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, our Healthy Gym Chocolate provides a nutritious energy boost to fuel workouts and keep consumers feeling their best.

EVGENIYA SOKOLOVA Founder, chocolatier and general manager of Golden Gazelle Chocolate

Founder, chocolatier and general manager of Golden Gazelle Chocolate

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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