Chocolate authenticity

Provenancing sustainable chocolate by intrinsic characteristics measured by novel analytical techniques.

Deepest researches on chocolate composition are required in order to improve the authentication and characterization of this product. Chocolate is one of the most widespread products in the world and the development of a reliable method of authentication is needed in order to guarantee quality, safety and confidence to the consumers. Chocolate is susceptible to fraud. The principal causes are the volatility in cocoa bean prices, the inconstant production levels and quality, social corporate responsibility issues and the complex ingredients composition. The authentication analysis of chocolate is quite difficult due to the complex matrix and the long processing chain that makes the finished product completely different from the starting raw material, the cocoa beans. Finding a connection between the various sub-products of chocolate production can be helpful for the traceability of the chocolate.
The development of a reliable authentication method could support the evaluation of the sustainability of chocolate, too. Over the last decade, the issues relative to the economic, social and environmental chocolate impact have increased. As a consequence, the demand in cocoa-importing countries for certified cocoa is increasing and it is expected to continue to grow over the next years. For that reason methodology is required to evaluate and ensure the genuineness of the product to the consumers and to reinforce the certification.

The main objective of this study is to devise novel analytical techniques able to measure intrinsic characteristics which will allow to delineate the provenancing of sustainable chocolate and chocolate ingredients. Both production aspects as well as processing technology will be considered when searching for causal relationships between product and sustainable production. The results will ultimately improve the traceability of sustainable chocolate and underpin fraud risk management.

Rapid analytical techniques will allow chemical, physical and sensory characterisation of the chocolates and chocolate ingredients. In fact, the study will be performed focusing the attention not only on chocolate but taking into account the different production steps starting from the cocoa beans to arrive to the chocolate bar. In this way it could be possible to understand the variation of the product properties during the complex process of transformation and find a “link” between the raw material and the finished product. Each analysis will determine different characteristic and will permit to find markers that could differentiate the products according to their origin and processing.