Americans can now savor chocolate that's neither milk, white or dark, yet is an unexpectedly all-natural pink.
Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut is rolling out ruby chocolate in the United States, nearly two years after unveiling its creation. It's the first new natural shade of chocolate to enter the market since Nestle's white bars hit store shelves in the 1930s.
The new variant is derived from ruby cocoa beans, which are found in Ecuador, Brazil and the Ivory Coast. Ruby has no added colors or flavorings, and has a sweet and sour taste that's distinctive from the bitter, milky or sweet profiles of other chocolates.
Ruby made its global debut more than a year ago, when Japanese customers first bit into pink KitKats. Berry-hued bars, doughnuts and biscuits soon followed in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It's now made its way into the crucial U.S. chocolate market, which at $22 billion is the world's largest. Americans devoured an estimated 9.5 pounds, per capita, last year.
Patrick Peeters, the head of innovation and master chocolatier at Chocolove in Boulder, Colo., said ruby chocolate has a lot of berry notes with a balance of sweet and milky that lends itself to be paired with fruit, coffee, tea, wines, cheeses and herbs. "As a chocolatier I fully embrace this new innovation," he said of the unique flavor, calling it a boon to the confectionary market, and an exciting ingredient for chocolatiers, pastry chefs and chefs.
Barry Callebaut chief executive Antoine de Saint-Affrique has described ruby as "hedonistic."
"There's an indulgence aspect to it, but it keeps the authenticity of chocolate," he said during a 2017 interview with Bloomberg News. "It has a nice balance that speaks a lot to millennials."
Barry Callebaut is the world's largest chocolate maker, with more than $7 billion in revenue last year. It declined to share sales figures for its pink chocolate but noted that it is now available in more than 40 countries.
In the United States, ruby products can be found through such retailers as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Harry & David and Vosges Haut-Chocolate.
The company said it has not received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to label its ruby line as chocolate. The federal regulator sets what's known as the "standards of identity" for a wide array of foods. The definitions are designed to protect consumers from fraud and to maintain the integrity of food products. The standards typically set a list of permitted ingredients and may also describe the proportion of ingredients and how the food is prepared.
Until then, the pink confection will officially be known as ruby couverture.
This article was written by Hamza Shaban, a reporter for The Washington Post.