Published on

November 21, 2023


Nick Halliday

How will it affect your production?

For decades, compound chocolate has been the workhorse of the bar industry, providing a cost-effective alternative for products like granola and snack bars. However, a notable shift is underway towards the use of real chocolate. Many granola and protein bar manufacturers are leading the charge, recognizing the growing consumer demand for premium and healthier products.  

By adding real chocolate to products, you’re aligning with a broader trend towards ingredients that are seen as healthier and more natural. But manufacturers are often surprised by the changes they need to make to their operations – working with compound and chocolate are very different processes. We spoke to PTL founder Jim Halliday about what this shift means for your operation and how the right machinery plays a key role in crafting premium chocolate bars.

Real chocolate vs compound  

Although real chocolate is significantly more expensive to use, expanding your product line to include it offers some distinct advantages:

  • Elevated quality and taste: Real chocolate provides a richer, more pleasing flavor, appealing to discerning consumers.
  • Health and wellness appeal: Real chocolate aligns with the trend towards natural, minimally processed ingredients that offer potential health benefits.
  • Premium image: A premium, artisanal image lets you command higher prices and attract a more sophisticated customer base.
  • Market differentiation: An emphasis on superior taste and quality can set you apart from competitors.
  • Ingredient transparency: Simpler ingredient lists resonate with consumers seeking transparency and specific dietary requirements.
  • Portfolio diversification: Cater to a broader customer base with varying preferences.

Working with real chocolate – what’s in store for your operation?

Creating some products with compound and others with real chocolate demands extra equipment and new processes:

  • A tempering machine

One significant addition to your equipment line-up will be a tempering machine. Unlike compound chocolate, which doesn’t require tempering, real chocolate needs to go through this crucial process to achieve the desired texture, gloss, and snap. A tempering machine ensures that the cocoa butter in the chocolate is properly crystallized, resulting in a smooth, shiny finish. This is particularly important for coating snack bars or creating chocolate confections.

“With real chocolate, you need to melt it, cool it and then heat it in a very precise manner. The process forms tempered fat crystals. If you don’t do it properly, the chocolate won’t form or snap – it’ll be soft,” explains Jim Halliday.

While compound chocolate can efficiently cool in just five minutes or less, real chocolate requires a more gradual process, taking approximately 10 minutes. You’ll need to either reduce your production rate to accommodate your existing tunnel, or invest in a longer one for a more gentle cooling process.  

“Unlike compound chocolate, which can be rapidly cooled, real chocolate is more delicate and cannot be shocked,” Jim says.


Given that chocolate and compound aren't naturally compatible, and remnants from one will reduce the quality of the other. With the PTL enrobing system, you have one seamless solution for handling both compound and real chocolate on a single line.  

Jim highly recommends incorporating dedicated feed and return lines for both compound and chocolate to prevent any cross-contamination: “It’s a more efficient and effective solution for manufacturing with both compound and real chocolate.”

And fortunately, washing the enrobing equipment on a PTL line is simple thanks to the user-friendly disassembly and washdown  process.  

  • Efficient ingredient recovery

Since a significant amount of chocolate remains in the enrober, efficient recovery is essential to bring down costs. For example, the product enters the line and has chocolate applied to the bottom using a wire belt. It then passes through three cascades of chocolate and is carefully shaken and blown off for a precise weight.  

Finding the sweet spot

Despite the challenges, going with real chocolate gives your bars a serious edge. Genuine flavor, perceived health benefits and premium ingredients can command a higher price, attracting a new market of consumers who want something special. By investing in the right machinery and know-how, you can meet the changing tastes of consumers and stand out in a competitive market. It might be a long journey, but the rewards in flavor, quality, and market position could be worth it.

Keen to make the switch? Speak to the experts at PTL today.