Fazer, one of Finland’s largest food corporations, is reportedly exploring the option of using cellular agriculture for sustainable Cocoa production.

They are by no means the first to explore options to create a Cocoa substitute, which is not meant to replace quality Cocoa, but serve as an alternative in mass chocolate products. The process typically involves the use of cellular matter upcycled from waste. One challenge is to create the products using locally available waste, so the costs and environmental impact of shipping don’t need to be a factor.

As one of the core ingredients used in Fazer’s confectionary products, the company notes that it places a high priority on the sustainable sourcing of its Cocoa, including the well-being of its Cocoa-farming communities.

Fazer is now looking into the future of Cocoa production and researching the potential of cell-cultured Cocoa for the sustainable production of Cocoa raw materials. For the project, which is funded by Business Finland, Fazer has partnered with VTT, a Finnish state-owned research and development company.

Cellular agriculture means biotechnological production instead of farming, with minimal land and other natural resources required for the production.

The production instead takes place in bioreactors under controlled conditions. Cell-cultured cocoa is a novel food in the EU, and it needs to be approved according to the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) process.”

Heiko Rischer, PhD, Scientist & Leader of the Research Team, VTT

The company sources its Cocoa from sustainably managed areas in Ecuador and West Africa and emphasises that profitable farming and the well-being of Cocoa-growing communities are the keys to sustainable Cocoa production.

We are inspired to innovate new means for continuing to fulfil consumers’ expectations and wishes. Although we are exploring new means for raw material production, the taste experience of chocolate will remain unchanged. Fazer has already, in partnership with VTT, received the first successful results of cell-cultured cocoa. Now we are continuing the research as part of the larger CERAFIM-consortium, which joins several Finnish companies and research institutions around the theme of cellular agriculture to fearlessly explore future solutions.

Heli Anttila, Vice President of New Product Development, Fazer Confectionery

It will take years before cell-cultured cocoa is launched on the market. This is a long-term project, aiming at the future. Managing traditional cocoa sustainably is Fazer’s first and foremost priority, but we want to explore and innovate for the future too. Cell-cultured cocoa is still far from our plates, but it offers us a novel approach to managing the challenges of sustainable cocoa sourcing in a fair and transparent value chain. I think our innovation mindset is very inspiring.

Annika Porr, Senior Manager, Fazer’s Forward Lab

While Fazer’s main focus is on the ethical sourcing of Cocoa from farming communities, it acknowledges that climate change is threatening the production of the commodity in the traditional sense. Therefore, the company is exploring alternative solutions to growing Cocoa sustainably without relying on climate as a factor.

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