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Know Your Ingredient: Cacao vs Cocoa

29 March 2019 by Food&HotelAsia


What’s the difference between raw cacao and cocoa powder? Time to set the record straight.

Here’s a bit of interesting trivia – did you know that “hot chocolate” was often prepared for religious and important occasions by the Mexicans and Aztecs?

However, lest you imagine it to be the decadent beverage we are familiar with today, the ancient version was brewed with cacao and spices to create a bitter and spicy concoction. In fact, it was the Spanish that introduced sugar into the mix!

Prized ingredient
Native to Mexico and both Central and South America, it’s believed that inhabitants of these areas first started cultivating the cacao bean as far back as 1250 BCE. In fact, the Aztecs valued the cacao bean so highly that it was prized as a medicinal ingredient and used as a form of currency.

While we can’t pay for our bills with a block of chocolate today, the cacao bean is a significant part of the food industry today – think products like cacao nibs, cocoa powder, confectionery, and more.

Cacao vs cocoa
Wait – what’s the difference between cacao and cocoa?

Well, raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cacao and removes the fat (cacao butter).

As for cocoa powder, it is made by roasting raw cacao at high temperatures. However, the heat changes the molecular structure of the cacao bean, thereby reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.

Shift in demand
Speaking of nutrition, a report by market research firm Euromonitor has highlighted that functional, organic and reduced sugar chocolate are set for higher volume and value growth than regular chocolate up to 2021.

The healthy chocolate confectionery category – including fortified functional, organic, reduced fat and sugar – is set to grow by almost double the rate in retail value and volume consumption as regular chocolate confectionery by 2021.

Exhibitor highlight
Source for the latest cocoa-based offerings from our FHA-Food and Beverage exhibitors!

Aalst Chocolates Pte Ltd
Headquartered in Singapore, Aalst Chocolates Pte Ltd is the leading chocolate manufacturer in Asia, exporting to over 45 countries and supplying over 150 major clients. If you live in Asia or have visited the region lately, chances are you’ve already enjoyed their chocolate products in the form of ice-creams or cakes, hot chocolate or pralines.

Beryl’s Chocolate & Confectionery Sdn Bhd
Beryl’s Chocolate and Confectionery Sdn. Bhd. was created with one single aim – excellence. Ever since the major regional chocolatier began operations in 1995, their focus has always been to produce the very best chocolates for both local and global markets.

Chocoworks Pte Ltd
An award-winning chocolate brand established in Singapore, Chocoelf is the joint creation of an experienced chocolatier and a medical doctor, both Singaporeans, who wish to share unique Singapore-style chocolates with the rest of the world.

Believing that “No Sugar is better than Sugar-ed”, the focus of Chocoelf has always been to make healthier chocolates using little or no sugar at all. And they pride themselves for boldly infusing Asian ingredients into chocolates, which gave birth to popular flavours such as kaya and durian chocolates.

Barry Callebaut

Barry Callebaut is among the world’s largest cocoa producers and grinders, with an average annual production of 1.7 million tonnes of cocoa. It was created in 1996 through the merging of the Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut and the French company Cacao Barry.