Cocoa Butter

From Cargo Handbook - the world's largest cargo transport guidelines website
Infobox on Cocoa Butter
Example of Cocoa Butter
Cocoa Butter-1.jpg
Origin West Africa, Brazil
Stowage factor (in m3/t) -
Humidity / moisture -
Ventilation -
Risk factors See text

Cocoa Butter


Cocoa butter is a semi-solidified oil obtained from Cocoa Beans. Cocoa butter has a high content of saturated fats derived from stearic and palmitic acids. Cocoa butter, unlike cocoa solids, has no more than trace amounts of caffeine and theobromine. The main constituent of cocoa butter is the triglyceride (fat) derived from palmitic acid, Stearic Acid, and oleic acids.

Cocoa butter is obtained from whole Cocoa Beans, which are fermented, roasted, and then separated from their hulls. About 54–58% of the residue is cocoa butter. Chocolate liquor is pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids. The Broma process is used to extract cocoa butter from ground cocoa beans. Cocoa butter is usually deodorized to remove its strong and undesirable taste.

Some food manufacturers substitute less expensive materials such as vegetable oils and fats (fillers and over-sized packaging) in place of cocoa butter. Several analytical methods exist for testing for diluted cocoa butter. Adulterated cocoa butter is indicated by its lighter colour and its diminished fluorescence upon ultraviolet illumination. Unlike cocoa butter, adulterated fat tends to smear and have a higher non-saponifiable content.

Physical and chemical information on cocoa beans, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and Cocoa Powder

  • A. The physics and chemistry of cocoa beans and cocoa products is very complex and changes throughout the life of the bean, depending on the processing it receives.
  • B. The following gives an indication of the changes in the bean through its life, together with some references that give further more detailed information on the physics and chemistry of cocoa beans.

Cocoa beans
  • C. Cocoa beans are the seeds of the tree Theobroma cacao. Each seed consists of two cotyledons (the nib) and a small embryo plant, all enclosed in a skin (the shell). The cotyledons store the food for the developing plant and become the first two leaves of the plant when the seed germinates. The food store consists of fat, known as cocoa butter, which amounts to about half the weight of the dry seed. The quantity of fat and its properties such as melting point and hardness depend on the variety of cocoa and the environmental conditions.
  • D. The seeds are fermented which causes many chemical changes in both the pulp surrounding the seeds and within the seeds themselves. These changes cause the chocolate flavour to develop and the seeds to change colour. The seeds are then dried and despatched to processors as the raw material for the production of cocoa mass, cocoa powder and cocoa butter. The first stage of processing includes roasting the beans, to change the colour and flavour, and shell removal. After roasting and deshelling an alkalising process can take place, to alter flavour and colour.
  • E. One analysis of the chemical composition of beans after fermentation and drying is as follows:

Nib % Maximum Shell % Maximum
Water 3.2 6.6
Fat (cocoa butter, shell fat) 57 5.9
Ash 4.2 20.7
Total nitrogen 2.5 3.2
Theobromine 1.3 0.9
Caffeine 0.7 0.3
Starch 9 5.2
Crude fibre 3.2 19.2

  • F. This gives an indication of the chemical composition of the bean but it must be remembered that this will vary depending on the type of bean, the quality of the fermentation and drying and the subsequent processing of the bean.

Cocoa mass or liquor
  • G. Cocoa mass is produced by grinding the nib of the cocoa bean. The quality of the cocoa liquor will depend on the beans used. Manufacturers often blend different types of beans to gain the required quality, flavour and taste. The cocoa liquor can undergo further roasting and alkalisation to alter the colour and flavour which will also alter its chemical composition.

Cocoa butter
  • H. The fat or cocoa butter can be extracted from the bean in a number of ways. Pure press butter is extracted from the cocoa mass by horizontal presses. Sub-standard cocoa beans can be pressed without deshelling by using continuous expeller presses. Pure press butter needs no cleaning but it is often deodourised. A solvent extraction process can be used to extract butter from the cake residue left after the expeller process, this type of butter must be refined.
  • I. Cocoa butter obtained by pressing the cocoa nib exhibits the following properties: brittle fracture below 20ºC, a melting point about 35ºC with softening around 30-32ºC.
  • J. Cocoa butter is composed of a number of glycerides. Two studies established that the percentage of the constituent glycerides is as follows:

Glycerides Percentage
Trisaturated 2.5 to 3.0
Triunsaturated (triolein) 1.0
Stearo-diolein 6 to 12
Palmito-diolein 7 to 8
Oleo-distearin 18 to 22
Oleo-palmitostearin 52 to 57
Oleo-dipalmitin 4

Cocoa powder
  • K. Cocoa powder is formed from the cocoa mass. Presses are used to remove some of the fat and leave a solid material called cocoa press cake. These cakes are then crushed to form cocoa powder. The processing can be altered to produce cocoa powders of different composition and with different levels of fat.
  • L. An indication of the composition of cocoa powder is as follows, but it must be remembered that this will be different depending on the roasting, alkalisation and pressing processes undertaken:

Moisture 3.0
Cocoa butter 11.0
pH (10% suspension) 5.7
Ash % 5.5
Water soluble ash % 2.2
Alkalinity of water soluble ash as K2O in original cocoa % 0.8
Phosphate (as P2O5) % 1.9
Chloride (as NaCl) % 0.04
Ash insoluble in 50% HCl 0.08
Shell% (calculated to unalkalised nib) 1.4
Total nitrogen 4.3
Nitrogen (corrected for alkaloids) % 3.4
Nitrogen corrected for alkaloids x 6.25% 21.2
Theobromine % 2.8


Cocoa butter is the major ingredient in the commercial production of both white chocolate and milk chocolate. This application continues to dominate consumption of cocoa butter.

Pharmaceutical companies heavily utilize cocoa butter's physical properties. As a nontoxic solid at room temperature that melts at body temperature, it is considered an ideal base for medicinal suppositories.

Shipment / Storage / Risk factors

Principally shipped from ports in West Africa and Brazil. The melting point of cocoa butter is at about 38°C. It starts getting soft at 35°C. Due to high claims on this cargo caused by loss of weight, condensation and damage as a result of melting, it is necessary to pay the utmost attention to the stowage. It is recommended not to place a container with cocoa butter next to or on top of heated tanks, engine room bulkheads or any other sources of heat. Stowage under temperature control in a refrigerated container is the preferred stowage for cocoa butter. Carriage temperature is between 15 and 25°C. When stowed in dry containers on deck:, provide a cool stow protected from heat .

Cocoa butter shall preferably be loaded during the cooler times of the day. Should this be impossible the vessel's staff must then, in rejection of possible claims, enter into the logbook all particular events with accompanying temperatures. Likewise annotations must be made of the inspection and resultant findings by the inspector of the "Cocoa Marketing Board".

Since cocoa butter emits a rancid smell it should not be stowed together with edible and delicate goods liable to get damaged by this smell, especially when stowed in ventilated containers. Cocoa-butter is shipped in barrels, drums, tins, or cartons. A modern way of shipping (Douala) is in a cardboard box (ca. 1'x1'x10") containing one block of cocoa butter, packed in a plastic bag.

Gross weight 25.6 kgs, net 25 kgs. In order to prevent loss of contents in case the cocoa butter softens, these cardboard boxes are to be stowed as indicated on the box ("Haut" and "Bas"). This in connection with the closing seal of the plastic bag.

Care should be taken to spread the weight when packing containers to prevent the cardboard boxes being squeezed. This is particularly relevant in high temperatures. Do not stow cocoa butter with groundnuts, sheanuts and cotton-seed (vermin-contamination). When in melted condition, the product is liable to damage by admixture with foreign matters and will take taint from outside odours, including those from packing. Will solidify again if ambient temperature falls below the melting point, but tainting will be retained. Treatment will be required before commercial use. When contaminated by water, the external layer only may be subject to damage.

Powder from ground cocoa press cake. Shipped in paper sacks. When damaged by fire will continue to smoulder for considerable time, even after complete soaking of sacks by water.