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Good Business

Fake Chocolate Sidesteps Cocoa’s Biggest Problems

Upstarts that make surprisingly tasty imitation treats are touting supply chains free from ethical and environmental issues.

Bloomberg business news
Chocolate Without The Cocoa

For thousands of years, humans have been drawn to chocolate. Its production these days, though, is linked to widespread deforestation and child labor, posing an ethical quandary for consumers. A British startup says it has the answer: a guilt-free alternative to chocolate that can be indistinguishable from the real thing.

Chocolate’s irresistible flavors depend on the fermentation of cocoa that occurs shortly after harvesting, when beans are piled under banana leaves and left for several days. In its east London facility, WNWN Food Labs Ltd. aims to replicate that process using British barley and carob from Southern Europe. Squares sampled by Bloomberg Businessweek journalists were convincing imitations of cocoa-based bonbons in terms of taste, texture and appearance; a hazelnut variety was a more believable substitute than the milk chocolate one.