Chocolate is one of the most beloved food products on the planet. The overall chocolate market is large and growing, in 2022, consumers globally consumed chocolate for 180 billion euros and the market is estimated to increase to 290 billion euros in 2030 (1). Cacao is however a crop threatened by climate change that will get more expensive as supply gets scarcer and demand continues to increase. Since the environmental impact from cocoa production is also high, an alternative chocolate market has emerged as one of the hottest subsectors within food tech.
WNWN has developed a highly scalable process for making a flavor-identical, cacao-free and more affordable alternative to chocolate using traditional fermentation and advanced food processing. The startup’s alternative, cocoa-free product looks, smells, tastes, melts, snaps and bakes like the real thing. The food and beverage industry has shown a very strong interest for the product as it is a great complement to traditional cacao, especially for hybrid products such as coating and ice cream.
“We are thrilled to invest in WNWN and be part of their growth journey”, says Elisabet Ålander, Senior Investment Manager at PINC. “This skilled team has succeeded to create a delicious, cocoa-free, alternative to chocolate with a clear B2B value proposition, using traditional and efficient production methods with no regulatory hurdles. In addition, as a sustainability frontrunner, we are also helping the transition of the food system”.
The ingredients being used, such as British barley and carob, are widely available and the production method straightforward. The result is a more affordable, sustainable and cocoa-free product.
“WNWN is creating a win-win situation for food producers, consumers, and the environment”, says Ahrum Pak, CEO of WNWN. Our cocoa-free alternative to chocolate can have a positive impact on the food and beverage industry’s sustainability, and PINC’s investment helps make it possible to scale up our production, expand on our B2B and B2C markets and increase the company's research and development efforts.”
Dr Johnny Drain, CTO of WNWN, says “We’re not anti-chocolate, far from it. We’re against the strain the conventional cocoa supply chain places on the planet, and we aim to alleviate the pressures on the system by creating a viable and delicious alternative.”
The product releases, according to WNWN’s own calculations, about 80% less CO2 and uses 86% less water during the production process compared to conventional chocolate (2) (3).
The investment round of 5 million euros was led by the venture capital firm PeakBridge and also included Mustard Seed Maze, Investbridge AgriTech, Geschwister Oetker and the HackCapital in addition to PINC, as well as existing investor FoodLabs.
PINC is Paulig’s venture arm for investments in early-stage start-ups in and around the future of food. The objective of PINC is to help Paulig renew itself and prosper as well as contribute to a tastier and more sustainable planet.
Paulig is a family-owned food and beverage company, growing a new, sustainable food culture – one that is good for both people and the planet. Paulig provides all things tasty; coffees and beverages, Tex Mex and spices, snacks and plant-based choices. The company's brands are Paulig, Santa Maria, Risenta, Poco Loco and Zanuy. Paulig’s sales amounted to EUR 966 million in 2021. The company has 2,200 passionate employees in 13 different countries working around the purpose For a life full of flavour.
WNWN is a UK food tech startup that creates a win-win situation for consumers, workers, producers, and the planet. The London-based food tech company uses fermentation to transform plant-based whole foods and unloved ingredients into delicious, sustainable foods. For more information visit www.wnwnfoodlabs.com.
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1. Chocolate Confectionery Market Report, Research and Markets, 2022
2. Our World in Data, Food: Greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain (2020)
3. The World Counts, Water usage