The alt cocoa trend

Brands aim to reduce cocoa reliance amidst industry shortages and ethical concerns

 Amid rising concerns about the ethical and environmental impacts of cocoa farming, many businesses are introducing products that minimise or replace the ingredient.

These alternatives aim to combat deforestation, human rights abuses, and wildlife loss in hopes of reducing industry reliance.

Insights from Amidst the global cocoa shortage, confectionery businesses are looking for alternatives to help them deliver the same cocoa-infused creations without profiting from unethical business practices.

In response, cocoa-free products are entering the market, appealing to businesses and consumers who wish to avoid contributing to the industry’s existing issues. Businesses that cater to the demand for sustainable and honest sourcing practices can attract consumers who value ethical production systems.

Here are some alt cocoa trendsetters

Nukoko – made from fava beans

Has developed a first-of-its-kind cocoa-free chocolate from fava beans using a similar bean-to-bar process used in traditional cocoa fermentation. By using this nitrogen-fixing crop, the UK-based company produces 90% fewer carbon emissions than conventional chocolate. Nutritionally, the bar is naturally rich in protein, fibre and antioxidants, plus it boasts 40% less sugar than standard chocolate.

Nukoko raised $1.5-million in seed funding to upscale its technology to produce cocoa-free chocolate from fava beans and challenge the chocolate industry, all the while addressing issues like ethics and sustainability.

Nukoko’s innovative chocolate alternative with a “planet-positive production process” also remedies the cocoa supply shortage, which has caused the prices of cocoa to spike in the last few years.

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Cellular tech to make cocoa powders

Israeli startup, Kokomodo, specialises in creating cell-based cocoa that matches the traditional taste, aroma, textures and health benefits that consumers have come to know and love from cocoa and chocolate products.

Cocoa-free innovations are being produced to address the environmental and ethical concerns associated with traditional cocoa farming, such as deforestation and child labour. Additionally, supply chain challenges, including fluctuating cocoa prices and vulnerability to climate change, are driving the demand for sustainable alternatives like cocoa-free chocolate and Kokomodo’s cell-based chocolate.

Supported by a $750,000 investment from The Kitchen FoodTech Hub and the Israeli Innovation Authority, Kokomodo is producing cell-based cocoa for the food and beverage, supplements and cosmetics industries. Its first products include a “high-value cocoa powder” that can be integrated into various products, and cocoa butter.

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WNWN Food Labs is transforming the future of chocolate

As part of the Häagen-Dazs Start-Up Innovation Challenge, food-tech startup WNWN Food Labs won Best Demo inn 2023, spotlighting the many ways cocoa-free chocolate could be used to support a more sustainable future without compromising on indulgence.

WNWN exhibited nine different culinary applications for its cocoa-free chocolate, including three with chocolate hazelnut ice cream. With tubs, bite-sized pieces and a cocoa-free shell for frozen novelties, the startup showed how a proprietary fermentation process could be applied to create cocoa-free chocolate that tastes, melts, snaps and bakes like conventional chocolate.

“The numbers don’t lie: chocolate itself generates more emissions per kilogram than dairy, so switching just that one ingredient dramatically reduces ice cream’s overall carbon footprint without requiring any other production changes,” WNWN CEO Ahrum Pak, said. “Our cocoa-free chocolate is a simple one-to-one replacement for the chocolate formats General Mills currently uses.”

See more here: wnwnfoodlabs 

Kerry Unveils a new line of cocoa-like products amid the shortage

Irish food ingredients giant, Kerry, has unveiled these options in response to the ongoing challenges posed by rising cocoa prices and supply constraints. Cocoa supplies are predicted to fall short by 11% in 2024, leading to a staggering 300% increase in prices over the past year.

Drawing on its extensive expertise and commitment to sustainability, Kerry has developed a comprehensive range of Cocoa Taste solutions, engineered to deliver an authentic cocoa taste experience, eliminating traditional cocoa bean derivatives as the sole source.

“Our cocoa solution not only preserves the indulgent cocoa taste that consumers love, but also helps manufacturers to navigate through the volatile cocoa market, by reducing their dependency on cocoa mass.” says the Kerry PR.

The range of solutions supports up to a 35% reduction in cocoa powder use in formulation, helping to reduce cocoa powder across baked goods, dairy beverages and confectionery while maintaining and enhancing cocoa notes and sensory experience.

Source:, Kerry