Is chocolate made without cacao still chocolate? It’s an entirely valid, and pertinent, question. Regardless of the answer, London-based WNWN FoodLabs’ cacao-free chocolate has already proved to be a runaway hit and sold out within a day of its launch on 18 May.

The founders of WNWN FoodLabs (pronounced Win-Win) skirted controversy by not putting “chocolate” on the package of their novelty cacao-free creation, opting instead to name their recipe “Choc!”

cacao-free chocolate
A chocolate alternative is made without cacao to avoid child labor and deforestation issues. (Image: WNWN Foodlabs)

Why is it necessary to make chocolate production more ethical?

That said, Ahrum Pak and Dr. Johnny Drain have been looking for an alternative to traditional chocolate that stops relying on cacao production. The two entrepreneurs have several grievances with the industry: Its lack of respect for people, but also for the planet. The two entrepreneurs started working on the concept of their project with a dark observation: 75% of the world production of cocoa comes from the Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and according to data from WNWN FoodLabs, one million children are involved in cacao production.

 

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Meanwhile, regarding the environmental issue, the British start-up points to the deforestation generated by the sector. Côte d’Ivoire has lost as much as 94% of its forest areas in the space of 60 years, a third of which can be attributed to cacao production…

These various criticisms had already been highlighted by Mighty Earth, an American association whose actions in favour of the protection of forests and the climate have repercussions all over the world. In a damning report for the cacao industry published in 2017, the NGO stated that this crop was responsible for the disappearance of nearly 118,000 hectares of forest in Côte d’Ivoire between 2001 and 2014. According to Mighty Earth, five to six million people worldwide work within this production chain, most of whom in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana live below the poverty line. According to the report, 2.1 million children on the West African coast work in the industry…

As a result, this new kind of chocolate does not contain a single gram of cacao. Instead, barley and the fruits of the carob tree are used. The food industry already uses this food in the form of a pod to thicken or stabilise culinary preparations. According to specialised media The Spoon, which spotted the information, a fermentation process in the spirit of the work of a winemaker or baker is used, allowing a brown paste to be obtained. This can then be mixed with other cereal grains, before being poured into moulds as with regular chocolate.

One question remains however: if it can claim the same antioxidant virtues as chocolate thanks to the presence of polyphenols contained in the carob, can this alternative to chocolate provide as much pleasure when one bites into it?

 

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This story was published via AFP Relaxnews

(Main and featured image: WNWN Foodlabs)

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