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3D printed chocolate to reach market soon

Hotels, pastry chefs and coffee chains can soon start offering guests customized 3D-printed chocolate thanks to a little-known Swiss chocolatier.

3D printed chocolate at the Barry Callebaut chocolate factory in Wieze, Belgium. (Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg)

Barry Callebaut, the behind-the-scenes producer of a quarter of the world’s chocolate, is giving gourmet clients access to a method of printing personalized designs en masse, the Zurich-based company said in a statement Friday. The technology will first be available through the company’s Mona Lisa brand.

After experimenting with 3D-printing chocolate for years, Barry Callebaut has figured out a way for the printer to handle the tempering of the chocolate, a process that requires constant movement at specific temperatures and which could take as long as an hour in the past. Now, Barry Callebaut’s printers can print thousands of pieces in a much shorter time.

The move comes as the chocolate industry faces meager growth prospects. Barry Callebaut said last month that the global market stagnated in the three months through November and Lindt & Spruengli has said it plans to close 50 stores in the U.S.

Business clients can come up with their own designs, shapes and sizes, with the final creations fit for use in desserts, confectionery, hot drinks and pastries.

“The important thing is this is not a one-off type of printing like in the past,” said Pablo Perversi, Barry Callebaut’s innovation chief. “We can produce at scale.”

Chocolate lovers looking for more personalized chocolate in stores will have to wait a few years, though. Barry Callebaut will first work with gourmet clients before entering the next phase with manufacturers, Perversi said.

Ultimately, consumers may even have 3-D chocolate printers in their kitchens.

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