Zurich (Tokyo): Nestle will sweeten Japan’s Valentine’s Day with ruby-chocolate KitKats, choosing one of the world’s most candy-obsessed markets for the debut of the first new type of natural chocolate in more than 80 years.
Nestle struck a deal with Zurich-based Barry Callebaut, the developer of ruby chocolate, giving it exclusive rights for six months to the breakthrough product with a pinkish hue and a natural berry flavour that’s sour yet sweet. The ruby chocolates go on sale at KitKat boutiques in Japan and South Korea as well as online beginning Thursday, ensuring chocolate lovers will have access to the treat before the February 14 holiday.
While Japan has seen many colours and flavours for KitKats before - its penchant for eccentric flavours such as wasabi or Hokkaido melon has attracted both locals and tourists - this is the first time ruby chocolate is going on sale since Barry Callebaut announced the innovation in September.
“Japan is the market that has made KitKat so iconic in terms of all the different flavors they’ve developed,” Sandra Martinez, Nestle’s global head of confectionery, said in an interview. “This makes Japan the ideal market to go with this news, and KitKat is a brand that’s modern and connects well with millennials, so it’s the right brand to put the first ruby chocolate in the world.”
Ruby chocolate, which is based on a special type of cocoa bean found in Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Brazil, is naturally a pinkish color from the powder extracted during processing. Standard chocolate KitKats are made from a blend of cocoa liquor, milk and cocoa butter, and the coloured varieties are produced using natural food dyes.
The move also underscores Nestle’s commitment to the KitKat brand, even after taking a major step away from chocolate this week by selling its US confectionery unit to Italian Nutella maker Ferrero. The $2.8 billion (Dh10.2 billion) sale of the business, which includes Butterfinger and Baby Ruth candy bars, comes as Nestle plans to focus on healthier and faster-growing categories like coffee, pet food and water.