Five chocolate disruptors you need to know about!

International Cocoa Day is the perfect occasion to highlight the startups that are transforming the chocolate industry. 

With cocoa facing important challenges, there is a growing number of companies that are innovating and offering sustainable solutions; and investment in cocoa-free alternatives has been rising steadily over the last five years, reflecting a growing interest in sustainable and innovative solutions in the chocolate industry.


Cocoa-free related investment amounts for the last 5 years.

Source: Elaborated by Eatable Adventures, based on Dealroom data, 2024. Data for 2024 is annualized based on figures available up to June.


As we celebrate International Cocoa Day, it’s clear that the future of chocolate lies in these groundbreaking innovations, ensuring a sustainable and delicious treat for generations to come.

Cocoa Scarcity and Price Surge

The recent scarcity and price increase of cocoa, caused by climate change and the spread of diseases in West Africa, is affecting consumers and producers alike. In Ivory Coast and Ghana, which produce 60% of the world’s cocoa, production has fallen by 20% in the last 5 years and is expected to continue decreasing. Additionally, cocoa is the third most unsustainable food ingredient after beef and cheese in terms of environmental impact. Producing 1 kg of cocoa involves: 

  • 45% deforestation contribution
  • 24.000L water requirement
  • 1.5M children working illegally


Innovative startups making a difference

These circumstances have led to a rise in investment in startups bringing innovative solutions around the world of cocoa, like Foreverland, Nukoko, Plant A Foods, and Trusty. Here’s how they are making a difference: 


Foreverland , based in Southern Italy, is disrupting the chocolate industry with its innovative cocoa-free alternative called Freecao. Developed by a team with experience in multinational corporations and the food industry, Foreverland aims to address the environmental and ethical challenges associated with cocoa production. Freecao is made from a base of carob, a native Mediterranean legume known for its nutritional benefits. The chocolate is free from the nine major allergens, contains 25-50% less sugar than traditional milk chocolate, and focuses on sustainability and the well-being of people. Foreverland plans to scale its production, emphasizing local sourcing and a horizontal product portfolio that extends beyond chocolate, working on a Freecao Spread. The startup has already tested its chocolate with industry players in Italy and it envisions becoming a strategic supplier of cocoa-free chocolate for major confectionery companies globally, emphasizing its commitment to a better-for-the-planet and better-for-people chocolate revolution.

wnwn logo


WNWN Food Labs , a London-based food tech company, has introduced vegan and cocoa-free chocolate bars that replicate popular brands such as Cadbury, Tony’s Chocolonely, and Terry’s. The Win-Win bars, are now available for shipping in the UK, and come in three variants—Choc Nut, Choc Orange, and Vegan M*lk Choc. WNWN claims to have used “cutting-edge science” to convert vegetable fat, carob, oats, and barley into its cocoa-free chocolate alternative. The bars are palm oil-free, packaged in compostable wrappers and cardboard sleeves, and aim to offer an ethical, sustainable, and cocoa-free twist to classic chocolate bars.

Planet a Food

Planet A Foods is a German startup revolutionizing the future of food through its proprietary technology that involves fermenting plant-based ingredients. Their chocolate is 10x more sustainable and 20% cheaper than conventional chocolate. In order to mimic the organoleptic properties of chocolate, tender, and smooth, they are working on the flavor itself but also on replacing the cocoa butter. By utilizing precision fermentation, roasting, and local processing, the company transforms natural ingredients and by-products like oats into the base for various flavors, including their flagship product, ChoViva—a 100% cocoa-free chocolate. This innovative process reduces carbon emissions by 90% and offers a delicious aroma, luxurious snap, and a smooth texture. Planet A Foods aims to create food ingredients decoupled from unsustainable land and labor practices, building a platform for the future of sustainable and ethical food production. Founded in 2021 by Sara and Max, Planet A Foods is on a mission to reduce the carbon footprint while delivering delightful and sustainable culinary experiences.

California cultured

California Cultured is a Californian Startup based in Davis with a team of chocolate and coffee enthusiasts committed to transforming the industry for the better. Recognizing the environmental and ethical issues in traditional chocolate production, they are using plant cell culture technology in cellular agriculture to create cocoa and coffee with identical qualities to conventional products. By selecting optimal cacao and coffee varieties, nurturing cells, and mimicking rainforest conditions, they produce sustainable alternatives free from deforestation and child labor. California Cultured invites people to join them in embracing a new era of environmentally friendly and delicious chocolate and coffee.


Trusty , an innovative Italian startup founded in 2022, specializes in blockchain-based end-to-end traceability solutions tailored for the agri-food sector. This platform, in development since 2020, currently benefits over 70 Italian companies. Trusty has acquired extensive expertise in the chocolate industry, having implemented their platform in three major industries. This implementation facilitates the tracking of over one hundred cooperatives and more than fifteen thousand farmers across seven countries.