Investors Smell New Opportunities in Cocoa-Free Chocolate Businesses

Cocoa-Free Chocolate Businesses
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Chocolate aficionados have seen the return of two of the worst words in the annals of commodities market news in recent weeks: cocoa shortage. The price of cocoa has nearly tripled in the last year due to bad harvests in Ghana and Ivory Coast, the two nations that produce the majority of the world’s supply. Due to processor cuts or closures, chocolate manufacturers are now without the regular supplies of liquor and cocoa butter needed to make confections.
We are about to reach the fourth year of consecutive low harvests, which makes the cocoa scenario look much more prolonged than your typical commodities market cyclicality. The global market for chocolate goods is expected to surpass $250 billion this year, as consumption of the product continues to rise rapidly.

In light of the tight supply and rising demand, there is a noticeable increase in investor interest in companies creating chocolate substitutes. In the last year, funding has been obtained by at least four businesses creating chocolate that is grown in a lab or that is “cocoa-free.” The firms on this list have raised about $110 million in total so far, the most of which has come in the last several quarters. What is chocolate without cocoa? It’s basically an ingredient that tastes and looks like chocolate but doesn’t involve harvesting or cultivating cocoa beans, according to financed startups.
The most highly funded firm on our list, Voyage Foods, is situated in Oakland, California. They create chocolate without cocoa as part of their product selection, which also includes nut butter alternatives.

Currently, it sells wafers and chips that can be used in place of chocolate, with the top three ingredients being sugar, vegetable oil, and grape seeds. Three-year-old Voyage has received over $63 million in funding thus far and has shown some early success. The large food and agribusiness company Cargill stated earlier this month that it will be collaborating with Voyage to increase development of “more sustainable alternatives to cocoa-based products.”

According to Adam Maxwell, CEO and founder of Voyage, food companies view cocoa-free chocolate as a means to lower supply chain risks in addition to enhancing their environmental profile.

“Ingredients like cocoa-free chocolate are far less vulnerable to price volatility that affects commodities like traditional chocolate,” he told the sources. In addition, Voyage has a particular focus on using “upcycled ingredients that are less expensive to source and widely available.”

Many of the favourite delicacies might no longer come from far-off farms in Africa if businesses making chocolate without cocoa prove to be successful. In terms of sustainability, this should be a significant advancement over the current situation. However, it’s still unclear how well imitations taste in comparison to the original. Premium dark chocolate bars with a high cocoa content would be difficult to duplicate with substitute ingredients because there are a large number of chocolate enthusiasts and addicts. It may be simpler to find alternatives for delicacies like covered ice cream bars or chocolate chip cookies, where chocolate is just one of several competing flavours.

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