New chocolate should be healthier and more ecological

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Zurich researchers claim to have developed a more sustainable and at the same time healthier chocolate. In addition to cocoa beans, they also used additional parts of the cocoa fruit, some of which serve as sweeteners.

More fiber and less saturated fat

“Our process uses only cocoa shell components in chocolate”, reports the team led by Kim Mishra, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH), in the magazine “Nature Food”. “It has a sweet flavor similar to traditional chocolate, while offering better nutritional value with more fiber and lower saturated fat content.”

Furthermore, producing this chocolate “on a large scale could reduce land use and global warming potential compared to the average production of dark chocolate in Europe,” it says.

Other parts of the pod, such as pulp or skin

Given that cocoa beans constitute only a very small proportion of the fruit, the land area required and therefore greenhouse gas emissions due to the conversion of original tropical vegetation per bean are generally high. “Therefore, increasing the use of other parts of the cocoa pod, such as cocoa pulp and husk, could not only contribute to the diversification of farmers’ incomes, but also reduce major environmental impacts during the cultivation phase,” write the researchers.

The elongated cocoa fruit – also called the cocoa pod – has a hard outer layer. If you cut into the fruit, you can see the skin and inside rows of cocoa beans, each surrounded by light-colored fruit pulp (pulp).

In the end, only the shell remains

In the new process, Ghanaian cocoa beans were roasted, shelled, ground and sterilized as usual, creating cocoa mass. The team has now used the inner part of the cocoa shell and turned it into powder. This mixed with some of the pulp to make a sweet jelly. This replaced the granulated sugar normally added to new chocolate. Despite the additional processing, this chocolate recipe is, according to the authors, on average more environmentally friendly than the traditional one.

Small farmers could use the new chocolate to market other components of the fruit and thus obtain additional income, the researchers write. All that remains is the outer skin of the fruit, which, according to ETH, is traditionally used mainly as fuel or composted.

All production would have to be changed

It will be some time before you can buy the chocolate. “We have shown that our chocolate is attractive and comparable in sensory terms,” says Mishra. “But now the entire value chain must be completed first, starting with cocoa farmers who need drying systems. Only when enough powder is produced by the food processing company can cocoa chocolate be produced and marketed on a larger scale by a chocolate company. After all, ETH registered the patent for the cocoa chocolate recipe.

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