A Closer Look: Chocolate Easter Eggs, The Global Supply Chain

The average chunk of chocolate undergoes hundreds of assessments from the day the cocoa seed is planted.

18 April 2014

Many people associate Easter with chocolate eggs and other chocolate-coated candies. Today, scientists involved in the long and complicated process of creating the 'perfect piece of chocolate' reveal that while 'perfect' may be used to lure customers to buy the flawless crème egg or enormous chocolate-stuffed Easter Egg, impeccable chocolate is actually the result of a well-scrutinized global supply chain working at its best.

The average chunk of sweet confection undergoes hundreds of assessments from the day the cocoa seed is planted (tested for water, segregation, nutrition), to when the cocoa pod is harvested. These checks also include how the chocolate is transported and manufactured (tests for manufactured pollutants, assessment of manufacturing systems); to the way it is blended, packaged and sold.

Every aspect of the chocolate production process from ingredient to blend to the finished product is monitored, tested and checked against regulations to ensure it's safe, of good quality, and conforms to all the legal standards. Analysis ranges from monitoring the transportation process, as well as quality and safety in the manufacturing, packaging, distribution and selling of the finished chocolate product.

To achieve a premium product, the cocoa chocolate must be monitored during its journey and throughout its lifecycle, including at the factory itself where it will be subject to testing to ISO standards in terms of hazards, safety and quality procedures and practices. The chocolate is tested at various stages of the manufacturing process to analyse its nutrition and to ensure it is correctly packaged. With the growing prevalence of allergies, tests are run to ascertain contaminant levels and allergens, such as dairy content, soya, nuts and gluten, in order to ensure the packaging is correctly labelled. Other testers have the enviable task of carrying out sensory tests to ensure the chocolate feels, tastes and looks right.

Do you have questions related to this topic? Or want to learn more about the global supply chain and the processes involved to turn that simple cocoa pod into that perfect piece of mouth-watering chocolate? Please leave your comment(s) below and one of our experts will get back to you.

Today's expert blogger is Natalie Smith, Global Marketing Manager for Intertek's Food and Agricultural group. Natalie is based in the Manchester Office, in the United Kingdom.