The Wall Street Journal article “Sustainable Chocolate Made Without Cacao” explores the projects underway to make chocolate production more sustainable. According to the Journal, the industry is plagued by child labor, worker exploitation, deforestation, and soil contamination, and business is trying to improve the situation. For example, chocolate giants Nestlé, Mars, and Hershey signed an agreement in 2001 aimed at ending child labor.
Two SOSV startups—California Cultured (SOSV IBSF11 2021) and Voyage Foods—are mentioned in the article for their use of alternative ingredients and reimagined production methods. California Cultured produces chocolate from cacao plant cells. About his motivations for founding the company, CEO Alan Perlstein said, “California Cultured was created to address chocolate’s dark secrets and bring chocolate and cacao farming into the 21st century.”
Voyage Foods, which produces cacao-free milk-chocolate-style bars from grape seeds, sunflower flour, sugar, fat, and natural flavors, aims to supply other confectioners with its chocolate alternative at a price comparable to Hershey’s. The article quotes Voyage CEO Adam Maxwell: “If you taste a raw cacao seed, it tastes nothing like chocolate. Chocolate is more dependent on process than the input. We’re essentially creating a product in response to the threat farmers are facing.”