Dark chocolate has been much under the spotlight recently thanks to research into its health-imparting properties, but most of its benefits are put down to its high antioxidant flavonoid content. It is an area of keen interest to the health foods industry since it is regarded by many as a treat food and therefore has a high degree of consumer appeal, even in a health food format.
The patent, entitled "Novel chocolate composition as delivery for nutrients and medication", covers the chemistry of the chocolate and how the blend of compounds affect energy, endurance, craving, satiation, desire, weight loss, and athletic and sexual performance. A parallel patent for the US market has also been obtained by New World, part of RFI Ingredients.
The company cites research into pharmacologically active compounds that may be responsible for chocolate's addictive qualities (Bruinsma and Taren, 1999; Rossner, 1997), and energy enhancement (Hedrei and Gougeon, 1997). Its ingredient - available in regular and caffeine-enhanced variants - is standardised for several ingredients such as methyl-xanthine alkaloids, adrenergic amines, minerals and amino acids.
"These are not only thermogenic but promote lipolysis and the building of lean muscle mass, and improve physical performance and energy," it says.
Chocamine has been available for use in supplements, drink mixes, gums and functional foods in some time, in the current climate of addressing obesity it may uses in products aimed at helping dieters to stay on the wagon.
Obesity in Europe is a serious problem, with up to 27 percent of men, 38 percent of women, and 3m children clinically obese in some parts of the bloc.
The retail market for weight management products was estimated by Euromonitor International to be worth US$0.93bn (€0.73) in Europe in 2005 and $3.93bn in the US, indicating that call to slim down or face the health consequences is being heeded by a slice of the overweight population at least.
Other ingredients going after the same market sector including DSM's Fabuless (aka Olibra); Satietrim from PacificHealth Labs, Gencor's Slimaluma, Lipid Nutrition's PinnoThin.
RFI acquired Chocamine in 2002, when it merged with nutritional blends company Nat-Trop.