(Bloomberg) -- Barry Callebaut AG, the Swiss producer of chocolate for Nestle SA and Hershey Co., has developed a cocoa fruit drink that it said will benefit blood flow as an increasing number of food companies foray into health and wellness.

The beverage, called Elix, is based on flavanols -- antioxidants found in the cocoa plant -- that help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which benefits blood circulation to organs, the Zurich-based company said Thursday. Barry Callebaut plans to focus on selling the drink in Europe and North America. 

While it’s Barry Callebaut’s first fruit beverage, the company has previous experience with flavanol. In 2015, it introduced flavanol pills after European regulators approved marketing them as a supplement beneficial to the heart. The health claims are pending an approval decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in spring 2022, the chocolatier said. 

Fellow chocolate company Mars Inc. offers a supplement called CocoaVia, which has been available in the U.S. since 2010, and a handful of smaller companies have introduced similar products in recent years. 

Barry Callebaut’s Elix beverage is made from a part of the cocoa plant that used to be discarded as “waste” previously. 

“For us it was a big challenge operationally to see how we could process the cacaofruit and and get the right kind of quality in the end,” said Peter Boone, chief executive officer in an interview. “The production has not been easy.” 

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