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Finnish research has a sweet tooth for cell-cultured cocoa

Although the consortium is exploring new means for raw material production, Fazer emphasises that the taste experience of its chocolate will remain unchanged.

Credits: : Adobe

Fazer and VTT are tapping into the potential of cellular agriculture for sustainable cocoa raw material production.

Climate change and sustainability are both pressing concerns for the chocolate industry, and thus alternative sources for cocoa production are being sought. Chief among these efforts is researching the potential of cellular agriculture for sustainable cocoa raw material production.

This reflects the use of biotechnological production instead of farming, which requires minimal land and other natural resources compared with current methods.

“The production takes instead place in bioreactors under controlled conditions,” said research team leader, Dr. Heiko Rischer from VTT. “Cell-cultured cocoa is a novel food in [the] EU, and it needs to be approved according to the EFSA process (European Food Safety Authority).”

Significant steps towards this goal have already been taken.

“Managing traditional cocoa sustainably is Fazer’s first and foremost priority, but we want to explore and innovate for the future too,” said Fazer’s Annika Porr (right). Image: Fazer

According to Heli Anttila, VP of new product development at Fazer Confectionery, the company and Finland’s technical research centre VTT have 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 fearlessly explore future solutions,” she said.

Whilst the research area represents exciting opportunities, those involved emphasise that the arrival of cell-cultured cocoa on the market remains a distant goal.

“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,” told Annika Porr, senior manager at Fazer Confectionery’s Forward Lab.

By: James O’Sullivan
23.08.2022