Mars will launch a range of pill-based food supplements containing its cocoa flavanols in to the UK and Ireland later this month, the company confirmed.
It said the supplement range can help consumers gain benefits from cocoa flavanols, which have an EFSA approved claim to help "maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow", in a healthier way compared to chocolate or cocoa powders currently on the market.
Before now, the CocoaVia supplement had only been available to purchase in the US market.
"CocoaVia cocoa extract food supplement is already on sale in the USA, with distribution in grocery, specialty, and recent expansion into 8,000+ Walgreens locations nationwide in October 2016," said Julie Talbot, marketing and sales director at Mars Symbioscience. "Now, CocoaVia food supplement will also be available for online purchase to consumers in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Talbot said the UK and US markets are the only ones where CocoaVia is planned to be available soon, however she added that Mars is looking to expand the distribution of into additional markets in Europe and globally.
"There is growing interest around the world in cocoa and the phytonutrients found in cocoa, notably the cocoa flavanols. This interest is driven by the increasing body of evidence supporting the vascular benefits related to the consumption of these compounds," she noted. "We would like to expand our distribution to additional markets as soon as possible to give more people the chance to experience the benefits of CocoaVia food supplement.
After two decades of research, Mars Symbioscience – a research centre funded by Mars Inc - says it has created a method of processing cocoa that does not damage or destroy fragile flavanols found in cocoa, and instead preserves them.
"Cocoa flavanols are easily damaged by heat, humidity, and the oxygen in the air but, through our proprietary Cocoapro process, we can gently preserve cocoa flavanols in their purest form," said Talbot.
The supplements do not contain chocolate, nor are they derived from it, said Mars - revealing that the process to make chocolate includes fermentation and roasting which can damage the flavanols.
Instead, the flavanols are extracted from unroasted cocoa beans which are harvested and dried in Indonesia.
UK roll out
Mars confirmed CocoaVia will be available in the UK and Ireland in the coming weeks, and will be available in bottles of 90-count cocoa extract capsules, sold online through CocoaVia.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk.
It added that the supplements provide 375 mg of cocoa flavanols per 3 capsules - with a the minimum recommended daily consumption for health benefits (as set out by EFSA) set at 200 mg.