MindBullets 20 Years


Chocolate that makes you happy and sexy, keeps you healthy and sane - what more can you ask for?

Just in time for Christmas, Nestle has released the news that the cocoa in their new chocolate products will help you fight cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure and prevent some forms of dementia – even while it keeps you feeling sexy!

Chocolate is a highly processed mixture of cocoa butter, chocolate liquor blended with sugar and (often) milk.

During the 1990s bizarre and embarrassing claims emerged from the chocolate industry including “chocolate is good for your teeth”, Since then chocolate producers have turned to serious academic research and peer-review to uncover and prove the essential qualities of cocoa.

Nestle’s new pharma-food division makes no mention of chocolate’s ability to enhance sexual appetites – this new industry is taking itself far too seriously to stoop that low.

But, Nestle’s new products are bound to put a little spring into the step of Christmas revellers and provide catalysts for a whole new range of apocryphal stories over the festive period.

(Read the full story behind the evolution of Pharma-Food in the detailed Analysis/Synthesis section – for subscribers only)

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

Pharma-Food: noun. Food products with pharmacological additives that are designed to improve health (such as lower cholesterol or enhance brain function).

In 1519, the Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortez, tasted a chocolate drink made by the Aztec Emperor (Montezuma II). Cortez brought some of the cocoa beans back to Spain, where the heated, sweetened chocolate drink was enjoyed only by the nobility. By 1606, the Italians traveled to the West Indies and brought back the chocolate making “secret.” The first chocolate factory in the U.S. opened in 1765 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony area. The early chocolate manufacturers marketed the product as a “health cure,” not as sweet treat.

Chocolate is a highly processed mixture of cocoa butter combined with sugar, emulsifiers and (often) milk and vanilla. The more cocoa mass, and the less fat and sugar, the better the chocolate can be for you.

Some bizarre and embarrassing claims have emerged from the industry including “chocolate is good for your teeth”, “Chocolate is better than Prozac” and “chocolate enhances your sexual appetite”. It is a fact that chocolate contains phenylalanine, a chemical which the brain needs to develop the chemicals made when you fall in love!

More recently, chocolate companies have turned to serious academic research and peer-review.

First to bear fruit was a late 1990’s study by Carl Keen at the U of California, reported that flavanols in cocoa appeared to have a similar effect to aspirin in thinning the blood and preventing platelets from forming into clumps. It prompted many questions about the links between disease and diet. “Food can have the same effect on health as drugs” he said. “Some cocoa is far richer in flavonoids than many green teas and red wines”.

In October 2004 the British Journal of Cardiology published a paper that bolstered the case that cocoa flavanols may have beneficial effects for those with cardiovascular disease and non-vascular (non-Alzheimer’s) dementia – that affects millions of people and is believed to be caused by poor blood flow. Flavanols are said to increase the flow of blood to the brain by as much as 40%.

2003: Mars launches CocoaVia
Mars launches CocoaVia with little fanfare and with only the internet as a sales channel. It is their first entry into a segment called ‘functional foods’ that includes everything from vitamin and calcium-enriched juices to cholesterol-lowering spreads. A category growing by almost 20% annually. There is little regulation in this industry and companies can make the most outlandish claims without having to provide proof.

CocoaVia contains flavanol-rich cocoa that is designed to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow – although Mars can’t say as much. After all they are a food company and not into health foods or pharmaceuticals – at least not at this stage. It is expected to be the first in a long line of new products.

This product was one result of Mars’ 15-year investigation into molecular composition and nutritional effects of cocoa. Mars have registered claims that ‘cocoa can be used in the maintenance of vascular health’ and as ‘anti-platelet therapy’ with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

2004: Beer and cocoa in the news
The Neuzelle Kloster Brewery, a 400-year-old company says that its latest beer is enriched with ingredients that maintain good health and slow down the ageing process. It’s labelled “Anti Ageing Bier” (sic) and has added spring water, algae and anti-oxidants resulting in a beer that is rich in vitamins and minerals. “Now if people want to have a drink, they can choose a healthy option” says Stefan Fritsche, managing director of the brewery.
In November, scientists announce that cocoa beans contain a chemical which is a highly effective cough remedy. Theobromine in chocolate is said to be better at stopping persistent coughs than codeine, and does not cause drowsiness.

2006: Unilever – the new kid on the Pharma-Food block
Unilever announces plans to enter the industry for the first time, harnessing its vast research and development skills and facilities. The move sends shivers through the traditional players as Unilever already have excellent access to major sales channels including supermarkets.

2007: Breakthroughs reduce fat and sugar content
Major food companies announce an enzyme breakthrough that will significantly reduce the fat and sugar content of all foods. Pharma-Food investments increase exponentially.

2008: Pharma-Food explosion
This appears to be the end of the ‘organic’ revolution. A short sharp look at your supermarket shelves will convince you that everything is available with additives that will make you ‘healthy, wealthy and wise’.
From soft-drinks with ‘natural’ substances to increase your maths capabilities to beer that will add five years to your ‘natural age’. From lettuces with vitamin C to breathable food.
Food has gone high-tech and high-impact. Fat and sugar have disappeared off the radar screen as natural substances prevent obesity.
Banks and mobile phone companies are lending their brands to breakthrough food products as Pharma-Food industry blossoms.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.