Nestle to launch ruby chocolate KitKat in Asia

PHOTO: Instagram/KitKat

ZURICH - Nestle will launch a ruby chocolate version of its KitKat brand in Japan and South Korea this month, becoming the first consumer brand to market the new chocolate variety developed by Barry Callebaut.

The move in Japan, one of KitKat's most important markets, is part of a wider effort by the world's largest packaged food company to push its confectionery creations upmarket with special innovations.

The announcement comes two days after Nestle agreed to sell its US confectionery unit, which does not include KitKat, to Italy's Ferrero, underlining its commitment to the non-US business.

"'KITKAT Chocolatory Sublime Ruby' will be available from Friday, January 19, in time for Valentine's Day," Barry Callebaut said in a statement, adding the product would also be available online. One stick will cost 400 yen ($3.60).

Sweet and sour Ruby chocolate is here to stay

  • Barry Callebaut, the world's largest cocoa and chocolate manufacturer, announced in Shanghai that it is aiming to revolutionize the chocolate market with its pink, berry-flavored offering.
  • Named after its colour, the Ruby chocolate achieves its unique hue and flavor through a special processing technique of the cocoa beans and not because of artificial additives.
  • The Zurich-headquartered company said it has not applied for a patent for this processing technique, though it claims to own the intellectual property rights to it.
  • Barry Callebaut is the supplier of some of the world's best-selling chocolate brands like Mondelez, Hershey and Magnum.
  • "We believe it's one of the biggest breakthroughs since white chocolate was introduced," said Ben De Schryver, president of Barry Callebaut's Asia Pacific region.
  • Schryver noted that the refreshing sweet and sour flavor of Ruby should be particularly appealing to the Asian market, especially in China where chocolates are generally considered "too sweet".

Barry Callebaut unveiled the ruby variety in September, creating a fourth kind of chocolate in addition to dark, milk and white. After more than 10 years of development, it is the first new kind of chocolate in decades.

It said ruby chocolate used in KitKat "has a fresh berry-fruity taste and characteristic colour".

Ruby chocolate is made from the ruby cocoa bean. No berries, berry flavor or colour are added.

There are already hundreds of KitKat products in Japan, including green tea and strawberry flavors, and a luxury version topped with nuts and dried fruit.

Chocolate companies, under pressure by consumers' increasing health consciousness, are looking for ways to make their products more interesting.