x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 February 2018

Naturally bright pink chocolate takes Japan by storm this Valentine's 

The pink colour is obtained from ruby cocoa without using additives or artificial colouring

A a tourist from Australia, Ayndri de Soysa, tastes a ruby hot chocolate as she holds a ruby Kitkat bar at a KitKat chocolate shop in Tokyo. Behrouz Mehri / AFP
A a tourist from Australia, Ayndri de Soysa, tastes a ruby hot chocolate as she holds a ruby Kitkat bar at a KitKat chocolate shop in Tokyo. Behrouz Mehri / AFP

It is a marriage made in Heaven for cute-obsessed Japan: this Valentine's Day, lovers can present the object of their affection with a world first - naturally bright pink chocolate.

The KitKat store in the glitzy shopping area of Ginza in Tokyo is a riot of wall-to-wall pink, as marketing departments go into overdrive to promote the "fourth" type of chocolate, after milk, dark and white.

And the salespeople have chosen their moment wisely: Valentine's Day is a massive business in Japan - with tradition dictating that the women give presents to the men.

This picture taken on February 7, 2018 shows sublime ruby KitKat bars, made of pink ruby chocolate, next to mock cocoa beans at a KitKat chocolatory shop in Tokyo.
It is a marriage made in Heaven for cute-obsessed Japan: this Valentine's Day, lovers can present the object of their affection with a world first -- naturally bright pink chocolate. / AFP PHOTO / Behrouz MEHRI / TO GO WITH Japan-lifestyle-Valentine,FEATURE by Anne BEADE
Sublime ruby KitKat bars, made of pink ruby chocolate, next to mock cocoa beans at a KitKat chocolatory shop in Tokyo. Behrouz Mehri / Reuters

"I love pink. I love chocolate. So this is just great for me," said 24-year-old Natsuko Takeuchi, searching for a sweet treat at the Ginza store.

"Knowing that this chocolate is created purely naturally, without any additional flavour or colour. I think it's really good," added Takeuchi, who operates a food trolley on Japan's iconic bullet trains.

For more than 80 years, when white chocolate was invented, the world has had to be content with just three varieties.

Then in September, Swiss group Barry Callebaut unveiled its new "ruby" type -- the fruit of more than 10 years of research - and five months later, bars appeared on shelves in both Japan and South Korea.

The pink colour is obtained naturally, without using additives or artificial colouring, explained Akiko Hara, a manager for Barry Callebaut in Japan.

The colour comes from ruby cocoa "that can be found in normal plantations," Hara said.

The firm's R&D department keeps the recipe a closely guarded secret, locked away in a safe. The result is a chocolate that tastes both creamy and fruity, with a subtle hint of raspberry.

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