Willy Wonka goes to Davos: secretive world chocolate summit to decide snack's future


Bob Geldof is on the guest list. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prize-winning economist, is making an appearance.

But the big-name delegates flying in to the exclusive Swiss Alpine town of Davos aren't trying to solve world poverty, or even save the eurozone. They have much more serious matters on their mind: chocolate.

This week the first ever "Chocovision" conference is being held in the mountain resort best known for providing a scenic backdrop to the annual get-together of presidents, chief executives and billionaires that is the World Economic Forum. And while security might not be as tight as during the WEF, Chocovision 2012's agenda is arguably more enticing.

Barry Callebaut, the Zurich-based chocolate manufacturing giant behind the conference, is reluctant to provide details about the issues up for discussion, and most of the prominent delegates contacted by The Independent last week declined to talk.

But invitations sent out to confectionery insiders give strong hints about the schedule – and the industry's plans to reinvent chocolate to appeal to increasingly novelty-hungry and health-conscious consumers.

Chocolate is big business, with the global market worth an estimated $83bn. It is also a crucial cash crop for many developing African nations, with the continent producing 80 per cent of the world's cocoa beans. According to figures from the World Cocoa Foundation, 50 million people depend on cocoa to make a living.

Amid sessions on sustainability, supply chains and "bean-to-bar value", the delegates from Kraft, Hershey and Mars will take part in seminars exploring how "flavour innovation" can influence the "emotions of consumers triggered by chocolate".

One scheduled lecture from an Italian medical professor will explore chocolate as a health food. In 2003 a study at the University of Cologne, Germany, showed that eating a small amount of dark chocolate every day could reduce high blood pressure.

Another study, completed the same year in Rome, demonstrated that dark chocolate contains high levels of natural antioxidants (called flavanols), which can help maintain a healthy body and mind.

Subsequent studies of cocoa flavanols suggested that they could have a positive effect on heart function, skin health and even libido. Then, earlier this year, scientists in Melbourne proved a link between eating dark chocolate and increased brain function.

Sustainable chocolate is on the rise too – hence Bob Geldof's involvement. Sales figures from the Fairtrade Foundation show that between 2009 and 2011 sales of Fairtrade Chocolate in the UK has increased nearly five times.

Calorie-cutting: Mars to slash size of its bars

Mars is to reduce the size of its chocolate bars to slash the number of calories contained in its sweet snacks. Mars, Snickers and Milky Way could see up to 10 per cent taken off. The move forms part of Mars' commitment to limit the number of calories to 250 per bar by the end of 2013. A 58g Mars bars currently has 260 calories, Snickers has 280 and Milky Way 270.

But despite having already reduced the saturated fat content of the bars by 15 per cent, the company admits that tinkering with recipes may not be enough to meet its target. Fiona Dawson, the company's managing director, told The Grocer magazine: "[There is] only so much reformulation you can do".

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
    On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

    On the road to nowhere

    A Routemaster trip to remember
    Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

    Hotel India

    Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
    10 best pencil cases

    Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

    Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
    Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

    Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

    Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
    Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

    Pete Jenson: A Different League

    Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
    This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

    The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

    Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis