Another company is jumping on the lab-made cocoa bandwagon. This time, the slightly creepy sounding CULT Food Science Corp, which is an investment platform that focuses on lab-grown food products, has invested in California Cultured.
In a press release they describe the company as follows:
Based in Davis, California, California Cultured, uses cell-culture technology, to produce cocoa products like cocoa powder, chocolate, and cocoa butter with the goal of creating sustainable and ethical chocolate for consumption around the world.
The company artificially manufacturers the Cocoa by cultivating optimum cocoa cells in tanks.
All ingredients will be sourced from the United States, which, the company says, will ensure the company’s products adhere to high ethical and sustainability standards.
This is probably a good idea as it will also keep transport costs down, and from conversations we’ve had with other companies doing the same thing, it is important to the business model as well as for the ethical argument to source locally.
This presents some challenges when expanding internationally however, because countries and regions have different resources in abundance. So the formula may need to be modified to suit available ingredients locally.
The company makes an ESG statement related to the problems associated with Cocoa production.
Ultimately, if successful the overall process of cocoa production will be done without deforestation and child labour. California Cultured is motivated to find a solution to the major issues of concern at the root of chocolate production, while providing chocolate-loving consumers with premium cocoa products.
I understand the value of creating an ethical halo over an emerging business brand, but the statements can sometimes feel disingenuous. As far as I know there are no profits going back to environmental organisations, nor is the company seeking B Corp certification.
The argument perhaps is that their very existence, and nature of what they do, contributes toward ameliorating the industries unethical practices. That has yet to be proven at scale, but it certainly is interesting to see the market develop.