Cocoa-free chocolate company raises $6M for expansion

4 Nov 2021

Germany’s QOA, a startup striving to create chocolate without the cocoa, closed a $6 million funding round led by Cherry Ventures with participation from 50years, World Fund, Nucleus Capital, Trellis Road, Pioneer Fund, and Tet Ventures.

Funding will be allocated toward building out a pilot production facility in Munich, Germany to complement QOA’s manufacturing facilities in Switzerland, the company said. Additionally, the company will allocate a portion of its funds toward hiring.

Cocoa-free chocolate company raises $6M for expansion

Chocolate has long been a product around which there have been questions of sustainability. From child labor and deforestation to concerns about climate change and loss of the ecosystems, concerns about chocolate production have been mounting, pushing major chocolate manufacturers to pledge to source their raw materials more sustainably. However, these promises that have spanned over a decade have gone largely unfulfilled, according to the Cocoa Barometer 2020 report.

To combat these ongoing issues, QOA is looking to tackle sustainability from an alternative perspective. Instead of plants in nature, the company relies on fermentation that produces natural byproducts from other food-making processes for its base material. The startup then uses its proprietary mixture of microbacteria and flavor formation to craft a chocolate alternative that maintains the texture and flavor of chocolate. According to the company, its chocolate is vegan and without any artificial additives.

QOA is scaling at a pace that it expects will bring its first cocoa-free chocolate products to market by 2022. By 2035, the German startup said that it intends to have reached a scale that will make it possible to price its products at or below the cost of traditional chocolate.

As demand for chocolate grows, prices have also increased. Chocolate – particularly dark chocolate -- has been linked to health benefits, but it is also a traditionally indulgent food. Both these qualities have been in-demand over the course of the pandemic, causing chocolate sales to grow 4.2%, according to the National Confectioners Association’s 2021 State of Treating report.

Not only has the market for chocolate grown, but more people are consuming larger quantities of the treat. In Cargill’s most recent ChocoLogic study, the company found about one-third of people increased their intake of chocolate as a result of the pandemic. This is despite years of rising prices. In 2018, the average chocolate and confectionery import price rose 3.5% compared to a year prior, according to Index Box. Then, this year, prices jumped again and major manufacturers like Hershey Co. announced that these price hikes would be passed down to consumers.

In such an environment, it is no surprise that entrepreneurs are looking for an alternative solution to continue to provide chocolate. In addition to QOA, California Cultured and Voyager Foods are working on creating chocolate without cocoa. If they succeed in matching the flavor profile of the beloved treat, there is a good chance that these alternatives will find their way into shoppers' baskets.

Related news

Sweden’s Nick’s lands $100M funding Round

Sweden’s Nick’s lands $100M funding Round

5 Nov 2021

Better-for-you ice cream and snack brand Nick’s closed a $100 million funding round led by Kinnevik, Ambrosia and Temasek with participation from Gullspang. The company said these funds will be allocated to expanding its portfolio of healthy snacks usi...

Read more 
Impossible Foods eyes UK as its next market

Impossible Foods eyes UK as its next market

27 Oct 2021

Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods is continuing to expand its empire, and its next target is the U.K. The California company submitted an application for approval with the U.K. Food Standards Agency in early 2021, and Food Navigator reported th...

Read more 
EU approves protein ingredient from Eat Just

EU approves protein ingredient from Eat Just

25 Oct 2021

Eat Just, the company behind the mung bean-based Just Egg, received approval from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stating that its novel mung bean protein used in its egg substitute is safe for consumption. It is the first novel legume protei...

Read more 
Hormel Partners With Better Meat Co. to develop animal-free products

Hormel Partners With Better Meat Co. to develop animal-free products

22 Oct 2021

The venture arm of Hormel Foods Corporation, which is best known for its SPAM canned meat product, has entered into an exclusive partnership with The Better Meat Co. with the aim of launching mycoprotein-based products to the marketplace. Financial det...

Read more 
Nestlé continues to remove sugar, salt in a “health by stealth” campaign

Nestlé continues to remove sugar, salt in a “health by stealth” campaign

21 Oct 2021

Nestlé’s U.K. breakfast cereal maker Cereal Partners U.K. (CPUK) said there will be 16% less sugar and 50% less salt in six of its products, Food Navigator reported. Coco Shreddies, Frosted Shreddies, Honey Cheerios, Nesquick, Cookie Crisp and Golden N...

Read more 
Clara Foods rebrands as the EVERY Company and launches animal-free egg

Clara Foods rebrands as the EVERY Company and launches animal-free egg

20 Oct 2021

Fermentation startup Clara Foods announced it is rebranding as the EVERY Company at the same time that it is launching the world’s first animal-free, nature-equivalent egg protein — ClearEgg.

Read more 
Report: walnuts and mushrooms are the latest ingredients to trend in alternative protein

Report: walnuts and mushrooms are the latest ingredients to trend in alternative protein

15 Oct 2021

Plant-based alternatives are becoming increasingly normalized, and consumer interest is branching out beyond conventional hamburgers and sausage, and they are seeking alternatives to conventional meat products in more niche categories such as deli meat...

Read more 
Cultivated meat comes to the pet food sector

Cultivated meat comes to the pet food sector

1 Oct 2021

Cell-based protein technology has now migrated from human food to pet food. Brands such as Wild Earth, Because, Animals and Bond Pet Foods have all committed to eliminating animals from the supply chain that feeds pets.

Read more 
Food tech company looks to make cacao-free chocolate

Food tech company looks to make cacao-free chocolate

15 Sep 2021

A new U.S.-based startup called Voyage Foods is looking to decouple food from its source material to create cacao-free chocolate, peanut-free peanut butter and coffee without the coffee bean.

Read more 
Impossible launches vegan chicken nuggets in restaurants

Impossible launches vegan chicken nuggets in restaurants

9 Sep 2021

Impossible Foods officially launched its plant-based Impossible Chicken Nuggets in more than 100 restaurants across the U.S., including Michelin star chef David Chang’s Fuku. Later this month, the nuggets will become available in retail at stores inclu...

Read more