By Curtis Vreeland
Vreeland & Associates

Raw chocolate was very much a presence during New York Chocolate Week, a sign the segment is finding some traction in the gourmet chocolate category.

NibMor, which received a Best of Press award at the Natural Products Expo East 2011, was among those featuring products. And, Davis Chocolate debuted Powdered Nibs, a mixture of raw cacao nibs and ground baking chocolate packaged in a 100-gram shaker designed for both baking or as a food condiment. Meanwhile, Gnosis also displayed its extensive line of raw, vegan chocolate.

Raw chocolate products cater to a customer base seeking unrefined and supposedly more nutritious chocolate. First appearing in 2005, the raw chocolate category, which is primarily sold through the natural product channel, increased 81% to $1.3 million last year, according to Packaged Facts’ U.S. Chocolate Market 2010 report.

Meanwhile, the number of single origin products on display demonstrates that the segment seems to be holding its own among choco-dilatants, if not mainstream consumers.

Exhibitors with single origin products included Pralus, Guittard, Grenada Chocolate Company, Amano and Hotel Chocolate.

Amano’s Dos Rios Palet d’Or bar, made with 70% Dominican beans, won a prestigious gold medal at London’s Academy of Chocolate 2011, while Grenada Chocolate’s 82% organic bar won a silver medal.

The Ecuadoran Trade Office also exhibited, underscoring that country’s importance as a global fine chocolate producer. They featured: Kallari, Pacari, ChocoArt and Antidote.

And, for those chocolate lovers seeking to experience cacao growing firsthand, exhibitor Lin-Mar Travel Associates has organized a Rainforest Chocolate Tour of Ecuador scheduled for spring, 2012.

It’s a trip that would no doubt inspire even more chocolate passion.