This New Method Replaces Sugar To Make Chocolates Healthier And Eco-Friendly

A team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) has introduced an amazing and truly inventive technique for producing chocolate. This is primarily aimed at eliminating the environmental and health concerns associated with old methods and practices that were being used for its manufacture.
Their new and amazing groundbreaking method that was also featured in Nature Food has harnessed the entirety of the cocoa pod, including the typically discarded husk. The result is chocolate that is significantly more healthier and even more sustainable which is really just amazing news for all chocolate lovers.
Traditional chocolate production primarily revolves around cocoa beans, neglecting a substantial portion of the cocoa fruit, which ultimately leads to significant waste and worsens the environmental footprint of chocolate manufacturing.

This process, recognized for its resource-intensive character and significant greenhouse gas emissions, prompted ETH researchers to innovate a method that incorporates the entire cocoa pod, including its husk, into the chocolate-making process.

The cocoa husk, typically thrown away or used as compost or fuel, is rich in fiber and can be converted into a powder that serves as a natural sweetener. The researchers’ new formulation mixes this husk powder with some of the cocoa pulp to create a sweet jelly, replacing the granulated sugar commonly added to chocolate.

This “cocoa-fruit chocolate” is not only healthier, with higher fiber content and lower saturated fat, but also more environmentally friendly, promising to reduce land use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with cocoa farming.

Kim Mishra, the lead author of the study, highlights that their process uses only components of the cocoa pod, offering a comparable sweet taste to traditional chocolate while improving nutritional value.

“Our process uses solely cocoa pod components in the chocolate,” explained Kim Mishra, the lead author of the study.

“It also has comparable sweet taste as traditional chocolate while offering improved nutritional value with higher fiber and reduced saturated fatty acid content.”

A comprehensive life cycle assessment by the researchers suggests that large-scale production of this new chocolate could significantly reduce land use and global warming potential compared to average European dark chocolate production. This reduction is due to the decreased need for cocoa beans and the utilization of the husk, which would otherwise be wasted.

The benefits of this innovation extend beyond environmental sustainability. Small-scale farmers could benefit economically by diversifying their product offerings. By selling not only cocoa beans but also the newly developed cocoa jelly powder, farmers could increase their income and improve their livelihoods.

Although the lab-based chocolate is appealing and comparable in flavor, it will take time before it reaches consumers. Researchers are now focusing on scaling up the production process and adapting the entire value chain, starting with providing cocoa farmers with the necessary facilities to process the husk. The study underscores the urgent need to transform the cocoa value chain to address nutritional and environmental problems while respecting socio-economic conditions.

“There is an urgent need to transform the cocoa value chain addressing the nutritional and environmental problems while respecting the socio-economic boundary conditions,” commented the study.

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