The Chocolate Of The Future Will Have Less Cocoa Or None At All

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) The high price of cocoa beans along with consumer concerns and government regulations surrounding deforestation and child labour have sparked a hunt for new chocolate ingredients.

This content was published on May 24, 2024 - 16:33 6 minutes

Swissinfo's India specialist covers a wide range of issues from bilateral relations to Bollywood. He also knows a thing or two about Swiss watchmaking and is partial to the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

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The Swiss chocolate industry is under a lot of pressure. Cocoa prices have reached record highs, recently surpassing $10,000 (CHF9,150) per tonne for the first time. Poor weather and disease in Ivory Coast and Ghana have led to a deficit in cocoa beans for the third year in a row. The two West African countries account for about 60% of global cocoa production.

“Compared to the average prices recorded a year ago ($2,752 per tonne in London and $3,040 per tonne in New York), the average prices seen in April 2024 represented significant increases of 301% and 244% respectively,” said the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) in its market review for April.

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To add more pressure, the European Union has introduced a“zero deforestation” supply chain regulation which will come into force in January 2025. Seven agricultural commodities, including cocoa and cocoa products such as chocolate, cannot be sold in the EU unless it can be proven that they have not caused deforestation since 2020. Germany alone accounted for 21.7% of Swiss chocolate exports in 2023 with around 40% of all Swiss chocolate exports ending up in the shopping baskets of EU citizens.

“Time is of the essence: without a solution by the end of the year, access to the EU market will become massively more difficult,” said Chocosuisse in a press release in February. The Association of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers was responding to the Swiss government's decision to not introduce similar regulations in Switzerland but instead assess the regulatory impact on Swiss companies after the summer break.

Cocoa cultivation also presents other problems such as child labour and presence of heavy metals such as cadmium .

New alternatives

It is this challenging environment that is fuelling the search for new ingredients that can replace or minimise the use of cocoa in chocolate but are cultivated in Europe. UK based company NukokoExternal link is one such start-up that is making the most of this trend. It managed to raise $1.5 million in seed funding this year to scale up its cocoa-free chocolate made from fava beans.

“Nukoko are investing in this area as there is a critical need for alternatives now and into the future, as we have seen by the current cocoa price increases, caused by a supply deficit generated from climate change. The market needs alternatives that are derived from different areas that are not affected by climate change, thus giving a cheaper and more sustainable long-term option,” Ross Newton, founder and co-CEO of Nukoko, told SWI swissinfo by email.

Nukoko sources the beans from the UK, which harvests 740,000 tonnes annually. Like cocoa beans, fava beans also contain a protein called vicilin that gives a chocolate-like flavour when broken down by fermentation and roasting.

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