© Alexander Stein from Pixabay

Some time ago, the world of chocolate fans was shocked. Scientists had researched that due to climate change, chocolate could no longer be produced within forty years. Then the cocoa beans will no longer want to grow. Fortunately, good news is now coming from Scandinavia. The Finnish food company Fazer is going to use so-called cellular growth techniques to produce cocoa in a sustainable way. We have to be patient, the Finns warn. It could take quite a few years to get there, the company says in a press release.

All Fazer’s cocoa comes from sustainably managed sources in Ecuador and West Africa. For Fazer, sustainable cocoa means securing profitable farming, improving cocoa community well-being, and respecting the planet and natural resources. However, Fazer acknowledges that the traditional cocoa growing areas near the Equator are threatened by climate change and that it might, in the future, become increasingly challenging to grow cocoa. Although Fazer, in accordance with its sustainability ambitions, is committed to combating climate change, there is also a need to explore alternative sources for sustainable cocoa. As part of a larger Finnish research project, Fazer is now exploring the potential of cellular agriculture as a means for growing cocoa.

Successful results

“We are inspired to innovate new means for continuing to fulfill consumers’ expectations and wishes. Although we are exploring new means for raw material production, the taste experience of chocolate will remain unchanged. In partnership with VTT, Fazer has already 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 explore future solutions fearlessly”, Heli Anttila, VP of New Product Development at Fazer Confectionery, explains. 

“Cellular agriculture means biotechnological production instead of farming, with minimal land and other natural resources required for the production. The production takes instead place in bioreactors under controlled conditions. Cell-cultured cocoa is a novel food in EU, and it needs to be approved according to the EFSA process (European Food Safety Authority),” says Research Team Leader, Dr. Heiko Rischer from VTT.

Novel approach

“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. 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 Fazer’s innovation mindset is very inspiring,” says Annika Porr, Senior Manager at Fazer Confectionery’s Forward Lab.

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