Pouched to Perfection: The Complicated Tale of a Squeezable Gourmet Chocolate

Glenroy’s pairing with startup SoChatti was a match made in pouched chocolate heaven.SoChatti pouch and dessert in tray

After months of research and development dedicated to product and packaging testing and development for a unique gourmet chocolate, Indianapolis-based SoChatti introduced its namesake product in squeezable pouches on Amazon in May 2018. The 8oz, 10-serving dispenser pouch retails for $17.95.

The product’s distinction is that it’s made to be melted inside the packaging—the pouch was the only format that makes the product commercially possible.

But getting to that point took work, lots of work across two and a half years of R&D that included 50 package iterations.

The know-how and resilience of pouch supplier Glenroy and the brand’s perseverance for perfection is a fascinating and complex case study in flexible packaging. PlasticsToday’s interview with Matt Rubin, SoChatti founder and CEO, reveals the project’s highlights and results.

SoChatti is an entirely new chocolate product.

Rubin claims it’s the first real chocolate to use a flexible package. “We aren’t a chocolate syrup, powder, or sauce. It’s formulated with just three ingredients — cacao beans, cacao butter, and cane sugar — and is made to be eaten melted. The packaging preserves the rich, delicate flavors of chocolate that aren’t available in most chocolate products on the market today.

“SoChatti’s unique and innovative packaging is integral in enabling our company to create a new product category called Chocolate on Tap.”

How it works.

To melt the chocolate for squeezing, the pouch is submersed in warm water or placed within the SoChatti Warmer, a countertop appliance launched in early 2020 to keep the chocolate warm and ready for use.

The packaging “magic”.

“Our flexible packaging solution was an integral part in creating and launching our brand,” emphasizes Rubin. “The true magic of SoChatti’s flexible packaging is that it is both a pouch and dispenser that uniquely fit together while preserving and melting the chocolate.”

Key points:

  • The pouch incorporates a channel into the seal area that interlocks with the SoChatti chocolate dispenser.
  • With the convenient piping tip provided by the Aptar VersaSpout fitment, the melted chocolate can be dispensed directly from the pouch for use in baking, drizzled onto a favorite snack, or eaten on its own.
  • The fitment’s valving enables the chocolate to flow at the optimum pressure level to conveniently dispense the chocolate into a shot glass or onto a spoon.

SoChatti pouch dispensing close upThe durable, 8oz dispenser pouch is made of a 5-layer construction with a vapor barrier to enable it to be squeezed and piped for repeated use without any degradation of the chocolate or package.

The pouch is waterproof with a silicon cross-cut valve in the nozzle that prevents oxygen ingress.

The processing and packaging challenges.

  • More than 50 different packaging iterations were tested.
  • The ideal pressure and temperature for melted chocolate to be dispensed through a nozzle was only within a 10-degree Fahrenheit window, which required tight tolerances.
  • The proper level of vapor barrier to preserve the product freshness required a superior oxygen barrier.
  • Prior to filling, SoChatti chocolate is outgassed using a proprietary process to remove any microscopic dissolved air bubbles and to adjust the aromatic profile of the product.
  • Unlike conventional chocolate bars, the SoChatti pouch is filled with untempered chocolate, thereby removing many of the typical processing steps. 
  • The chocolate is then directly filled through the AptarGroup nozzle with self-sealing valve under high pressure.

Unique supply-chain ability.

The pouched chocolate can be stored and transported at temperatures up to 120°F and can be subjected to repeated thermal cycling without degradation. This permits distribution through conventional warehouse and fulfilment services and eliminates the cold-chain distribution requirements of conventional chocolate products.

Chocolate products are typically considered hazardous to fulfilment centers during summer months. However, the packaging received a special exemption from Amazon to enable year-round fulfillment without temperature regulation or waste.

The product has a two-year shelf-stable shelf life.

SoChatti launched a packet version in early 2020.SoChatti dispensing close up

SoChatti to Go is a brand-new SKU that was soft launched in early 2020 as a test with a few trusted retail partners. The on-the-go 23-gram net weight packet conveniently fits in a pocket and is an ideal treat during the summer months so it’s melted and ready to be eaten.

SoChatti to Go packaging uses a similar vapor barrier as the pouch, but it’s a non-reinforced package that allows consumers to tear into it in order to eat the chocolate as a solid chocolate bar, or, melt it by placing it in warm water or just letting it melt in warm conditions.

The packet is designed with horizontal tear notch on the top end for full dispensing and has a vertical tear notch on the bottom for controlled dispensing.

SoChatti to Go is available for pre-order via the SoChatti website and retails for $17.95 for a box of 10 or for $1.79 apiece. 

Self-processed and packaged.

Rubin: SoChatti chocolate is packaged entirely in-house. In May, the company moved into a nearly 13,000 square foot facility in Indianapolis to expand production and double down on R&D. 

The company has taken special safety precautions during the COVID-19 outbreak and has even managed to expand the team with new hires during this time. 

Positively sweet results.

One of the unique features about SoChatti packaging is that it transcends foodservice and consumer retail.

“SoChatti appeals to restaurants and coffee shops, as well as consumers serving it to friends and family or on their own,” explains Rubin. “It’s a product that’s been sold at Williams Sonoma as part of its Artisan’s Market program. It’s also on the menu at a number of partner restaurants in the form of a chocolate-tasting dessert options, and it’s also sold direct-to-consumer both online and through a few local grocery partners. Though still in the early stages, our SoChatti to Go product has exceeded expectations in re-orders from initial grocery and cafe partners.”

 

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