Chocolate manufacturers sometimes can’t believe the massive quality and cost benefits they get when they switch from lecithin to AMP. Lasse Kolding Sørensen, Senior Application Specialist at Palsgaard, wants to convince them:
"Of course, being able to cut prices can be a selling point, but we don’t actually go in saying ‘next month you could be saving €1million’, even though that’s actually true for some companies. Instead, we show them, for example, the difference between white chocolate products made with AMP and those made with lecithin, which aren’t actually white but more greyish in colour. Quality is a better door opener for us."
“In some ways, making chocolate is very easy”, Lasse says. “You can solve a lot of the problems in your production just by adding cocoa butter. But cocoa butter is expensive, and the more you add, the higher the cost.”
First used almost 100 years ago, lecithin remains a common solution to this challenge. “In the 1930s people realised that lecithin offers great performance when it comes to reducing viscosity in chocolate. And that allowed them to cut out a lot of the cocoa butter,” he continues.
But there are disadvantages too. “Lecithin also brings you some off-flavours and a dark colour. That can be a problem, particularly in white chocolate.”
AMP (ammonium phosphatide – E442) was invented in the 1960s as an alternative to lecithin with better organoleptic properties. Like lecithin, it is a phospholipid, but it is tailor-made for chocolate and taste- and colour-neutral.
Palsgaard has spent years perfecting AMP, culminating in sunflower-based Palsgaard® AMP 4455 and its rapeseed-based twin, Palsgaard® AMP 4458, which Lasse believes are the best products of their kind on the market. “Around here, they're sometimes known as ‘Super-AMP’!’”, he says. “They're so much better than anything else available.”
Suitable for all chocolate applications, AMP offers a range of organoleptic and functional benefits over lecithin. The most dramatic of these is its efficiency when it comes to reducing cocoa butter. While lecithin delivers cocoa butter savings of 4% at a 0.4% dosage, Palsgaard® AMP 4455 and Palsgaard® AMP 4458 allow an additional reduction of 2%. For a manufacturer producing 10,000 MT of chocolate per year, that translates to annual cost savings of €700,000.
Lasse says such figures are so high they can be hard for manufacturers to comprehend. “They’re thinking ‘Can it be true?’ It’s like they’re getting free cocoa butter. And it’s an even bigger surprise when they start doing all the calculations.”
Getting more out of their cocoa beans means manufacturers can produce much higher volumes of chocolate. And with environmental concerns becoming more important to producers and consumers alike, using less cocoa butter also makes sense from a sustainability perspective.
Pre-COVID, Lasse would often visit customers who were experiencing technical difficulties.
To continue to provide the same quality of service in the “new normal”, he has set up what he calls an “online chocolate lab”. “We’ve got screens, cameras, and whiteboards everywhere,” he explains. “For all our equipment, we can share what’s going on a projector. That means we can run parallel trials with customers – they’re doing the same thing we are but on a much bigger scale. So it’s like we’re there, even though we can’t be there!”
The set-up also allows his team to run online seminars from the lab, something he hopes will continue long into the future. “Obviously a lot of terrible things have come from coronavirus, but some good things have too. At first, we thought there was no way chocolate could be made in one place and copied exactly in another. Now we know we can do it very easily by camera. And it’s something we’ll carry on doing, even when countries start opening up more. Things have changed forever.”
Like his customers, Lasse says he’s always learning. “I’m very curious about everything. I’ve been in the food industry for 25 years, but every day there’s something I don’t understand that I might learn the next day. I’m constantly discovering more about the way AMP works and about how we can communicate its benefits.”