Fazer Group: explores cell-cultured cocoa as an option

Helsinki / FI. (fg) At Finland’s Fazer Group, sustainability is at the core and the sustainability of the raw materials is one of the key ambitions of the Group’s sustainability work and the foundation, upon which the tasty, high-quality food of the company is built. One of the core ingredients in Fazer’s confectionery production and the heart of the company’s beloved chocolate is cocoa. Fazer’s foremost priority is ensuring the sustainable management of cocoa sourcing, securing profitable farming and improving cocoa community well-being. However, as climate change threatens the traditional cocoa growing areas near the Equator, there is a need to explore alternative sources for cocoa. Now Fazer is researching the potential of cellular agriculture for future sustainable cocoa raw material production. Even though the use of cell-cultured cocoa is still far in the future, for Fazer, the time to fearlessly explore its possibilities is now.

All Fazer’s cocoa comes from sustainably managed sources in Ecuador and West Africa. For Fazer, sustainable cocoa means securing profitable farming, improving cocoa community well-being, and respecting the planet and natural resources. However, Fazer acknowledges that the traditional cocoa growing areas near the Equator are threatened by climate change and that it might, in the future, become increasingly challenging to grow cocoa. Although Fazer, in accordance with its sustainability ambitions, is committed to combating climate change, there is also a need to explore alternative sources for sustainable cocoa. As part of a larger Finnish research project, Fazer is now exploring the potential of cellular agriculture as a means for growing cocoa.

«We are inspired to innovate new means for continuing to fulfil consumers’ expectations and wishes. Although we are exploring new means for raw material production, the taste experience of chocolate will remain unchanged. Fazer has already, in partnership with VTT, 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», Heli Anttila, VP of New Product Development at Fazer Confectionery explains.

«Cellular agriculture means biotechnological production instead of farming, with minimal land and other natural resources required for the production. The production takes instead place in bioreactors under controlled conditions. Cell-cultured cocoa is a novel food in EU, and it needs to be approved according to the EFSA process (European Food Safety Authority),» says Research Team Leader, Dr. Heiko Rischer from VTT.

«It will take years before cell-cultured cocoa is launched on the market. This is a long-term project, aiming at the future. Managing traditional cocoa sustainably is Fazer’s first and foremost priority, but we want to explore and innovate for the future too. 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. I think Fazer’s innovation mindset is very inspiring,» says Annika Porr, Senior Manager at Fazer Confectionery’s Forward Lab.

Caring for the well-being of people and environment is part of Fazer’s heritage and future. Fazer’s ambition is to be an innovative leader in whatever it does and therefore the Group invests in research and development in line with its strategic priority of accelerating growth through innovations, on-trend categories and foodtech.

Fazer wants to promote research as well as knowledge and competence development in its home markets and in its research networks. Sustainability is an important driver for innovation as Fazer develops food as a solution for a more sustainable planet and business. Fazer’s project on cell-cultured cocoa receives funding from Business Finland.