The company is an organic certified, “bean-to-bar” chocolatier specialising in artisan chocolate, organic chocolate bars, hand-crafted chocolates, continental baking and Italian style ice cream. This family-run business started in 2005 with a mobile shop supplying festivals, farmers markets and delicatessens. Since then they have expanded and now operate from a factory in Haddington, East Lothian and have an upmarket retail/café in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. The company only uses the finest natural ingredients and they enjoy experimenting with new ideas. They are proud to be one of the first UK chocolatiers to make chocolate from beans supplied directly from the producer. The company is the winner of the 2013 East Lothian Food & Drink Award for the most innovative product.

The Brief

The Chocolate Tree has developed new “bean-to-bar” chocolate products made from cacao beans sourced directly from cacao growers in Madagascar, Peru and Ecuador. The aim of the project was to provide the company with accurate antioxidant and mineral information to enable them to gain a fuller understanding of these nutritional characteristics in order to promote the health and nutritional aspects of their “bean-to-bar” chocolate.

The Research

Chocolate is frequently seen as an unhealthy indulgence. However, good quality chocolate with a high cacao percentage, when enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, has been shown to have a number of physical and mental health benefits. This project investigated the health properties of chocolate produced directly from roasted and unroasted beans from Madagascar, roasted beans from Ecuador, and unroasted beans from Peru. In particular the polyphenol content and the antioxidant capacity in these different products were investigated. This allowed the company to gain insight into the effects of the country of origin and roasting process on these properties. In addition the presence of a number of healthy minerals was also determined.

The Outcome

Queen Margaret University was able to provide scientific evaluation of the antioxidant profile and mineral content of The Chocolate Tree organic certified “bean-to-bar” range and provided professional guidance regarding the health and nutritional aspects of their products. This will assist the company in developing accurate information for labelling purposes and advertising material via their website, social media and leaflets. In the long term it will facilitate a large marketing campaign through which the company aim to: bring transparency to the chocolate industry; showcase how companies can work on an ethical basis supporting organic farmers in Peru, Madagascar and Ecuador by sourcing cacao directly from the growers for the manufacture of “bean-to-bar” chocolate.

The client was delighted with the collaboration with Queen Margaret University:

“This was a fantastic project which provided us with information which helped us better understand the health benefits of chocolate and go on to promote our products into new markets. Many thanks!”

Alastair Gower, Owner and Partner.

The Impact

The impact of the research from an academic perspective:

“There are a large number of research studies which support the claims of the health benefits of moderate dark chocolate consumption. Many of these have been attributed to chocolate’s polyphenol and mineral content and antioxidant capacity. It was particularly exciting to work with The Chocolate Tree to explore these components in their “bean-to-bar” products. The information gained from the comparison of the different countries of origin and bean processing provided us with greater insight into the potential health characteristics of their unique products.”

Dr Mary Warnock Senior Lecturer in Dietetics, Nutrition and Biological Sciences, Queen Margaret University

Our practical innovation support and creative business solutions can help businesses with:

  • New and innovative product development and analysis;
  • Development of leading edge functional, health enhancing products and ingredients;
  • Reformulation of existing products – for example healthier alternatives to fat, salt and sugar;
  • Innovative sources of raw materials to produce novel ingredients and ensure sustainability;
  • Ingredients to improve product processing and preservation and
  • Nutritional analysis, shelf life testing, consumer focus groups and taste panels.

We offer the following, supported by academic expertise:

  • Consultancy
  • Collaborative Research
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)
  • Contract research
  • Access to appropriate innovation funding

If your business could benefit from research support or business advice contact:

Miriam Smith, Research and Knowledge Exchange Unit

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Mobile: 07872 128 688

Business Support & Enquiries

Show Contacts

Business Support & Enquiries

Miriam Smith Innovation and Enterprise Manager 0131 474 0000
07872 128 688