Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2024

Nukoko’s eco beans scale to help solve the chocolate crisis | City & Business | Finance

Nukoko’s eco beans scale to help solve the chocolate crisis | City & Business | Finance
Nukoko’s eco beans scale to help solve the chocolate crisis | City & Business | Finance


UK startup Nukoko is using homegrown faba beans to create a cheaper, eco-friendly alternative to chocolate – so is a new love just around the corner for those with a sweet tooth and the industry at large?

Nukoko’s pulse-based innovation has a lot going for it.  Along with the product, which has a satisfying nuttiness and snap, come other crucial advantages such as 40 per cent less sugar content, 90 per cent lower carbon footprint and supply chain consistency.

The alt-chocolate’s debut comes at a time when the industry is struggling with the impact of climate change which is affecting sourcing, as well as deforestation and increasing demand.

Cocoa prices are at an all-time high, up 40 per cent so far this year, and there’s a 155,000 tonnes’ (or £395 million worth of chocolate bars) deficit.

Aware of the mounting crisis, Nukoko (www.nukoko.co.uk) was founded in Guildford, Surrey, two years ago by chocolate industry insiders Ross Newton and Kit Tomlinson.

Work on a solution was turbocharged when they were joined by co-owner, the renowned scientist Professor David Salt, director of the University of Nottingham’s platform Future Food Beacon of Excellence.

Weather resistant and capable of thriving in cool climates, the legumes (vicia faba) that produce the fava seeds and beans, that we also know as broad beans, are used both for human consumption and animal feed.

Now on the economic and health radars as never before the nutrition-rich plants take nitrogen from the air enriching poor soil and minimising any need for fertiliser.

“There has to be a solution to ensure the future of chocolate. We are the new wave of bean-to-bar manufacturing, harnessing the power of locally grown beans that does not involve any human exploitation,” explains Newton who sees a parallel with the alternative, lab grown meat market.

Currently pre-revenue Nukoko is forecasting a £1million plus turnover in Q1 next year. A first investment £396,000 included Indie Bio NY, a leading US food tech backer and now a further seed funding raise of £1.1m has just been completed led by Oyster Bay Venture Capital and an Innovate UK grant to scale the technology.   

Working with food processing firms, after harvesting the beans ferment naturally, are dried and broken down, a process that lasts about a month although to lower prices the aim is to reduce this.

An international patent is pending on Nukoko’s formulation which has multiple business-to-business applications and a first trial with M&M-style peanuts was a sell-out.

“We are a one-to-one replacement and our powder can be used to make chocolate, drinks, cakes or as a cover for biscuits and be included in cereals and fondants,” says Newton.

“With Professor Salt’s expertise we have been able to curate flavours, increase fruitiness and introduce new notes and matches such as caramel or coffee. Our technology has potential for other bean varieties too, for example the moth bean that is plentiful in Asia.”

Now in an exploratory agreement with Swiss cooperative giant Halba, Nukoko is keen to partner with others such as delis, independents and catering suppliers.

As for a perfect match that “would be to see our chocolate covering a Greggs’ doughnut or in Pret-a-Manger,” adds Newton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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