Planet A Foods' $15.4M funding boosts production of eco-friendly cocoa alternative

The company uses proprietary tech to turn ingredients — including oats and sunflower seeds — into cocoa mass and butter to replace or supplement chocolate. 
Planet A Foods' $15.4M funding boosts production of eco-friendly cocoa alternative

Today Planet A Foods announced it has closed a $15.4 million Series A funding round, bringing the company's funding to over $43 million.

The  company started with a problem:

"Chocolate will become more expensive than caviar unless drastic, tech-driven steps are taken"

Planet A Foods was launched in 2021 by twins Drs. Max and Sara Marquart in a bid to deliver a sustainable alternative to cocoa for the world's chocolate lovers. 

Climate change — and the broader biodiversity crisis — threatens the viability of producing the cocoa needed to meet demand. Adverse weather conditions and crop diseases decimate crop yields in West Africa, and harvestable ground is becoming increasingly scarce.

The company's fermentation process uses proprietary technologies to turn all-natural, locally-sourced ingredients - including oats and sunflower seeds - into ChoViva (formerly known as nocoa): a cocoa mass and cocoa butter with melt-in-the-mouth texture and full-bodied chocolate flavour. 

The product can be used in a hybrid context with conventional chocolate or as a full replacer. It contains up to 30 percent less sugar, and has a very low CO2 footprint due to local ingredients and short supply chains.

After closing the round in 2023, Planet A Foods has launched several products with REWE, one of the leading European retailers, and is now preparing for further launches with REWE and other German & UK retailers.

Besides retailers, key partnerships of Planet A Foods include Griesson de Beukelaer, Peter Kölln, Spitz, Hans Freitag, and Lufthansa. 

Image: Planet A Foods.

Lindt recently launched a vegan chocolate product which contains ChoViva.

The Planet A Foods team has already used some of the funding to scale up production at its factory. It can now produce 750kg of ChoViva per hour in an IFS-certified and highly efficient production environment.

The round was led by Europe's leading climate venture fund, World Fund, with participation from Omnes Capital, Cherry Ventures, Mudcake, Nucleus Capital, TriplePoint Capital, Feast Ventures and many more. 

Dr Max Marquart, Planet A Foods co-founder and CEO, said:

"This Series A round has already enabled us to deliver large-scale production and continuously supply our customers with ChoViva. 

Now we are gearing up for our international expansion in 2024 and beyond, and are looking for the next Willy Wonkas to help us scale and enter new markets!"

Dr Sara Marquart, Planet A Foods co-founder and CTO, said: 

"Fueled by the funding, we not only broadened our product portfolio but also enhanced taste and texture, solidifying our position as the leading force in the alternative cocoa and chocolate sector.

The Series A additionally expedited the advancement of Planet A's technology platform, allowing the company to hire top-tier experts in lipids, chocolate, and synbio. It has since scaled up the production of our cocoa butter and palm oil alternatives to an industrial level.

Daria Saharova, Managing Partner at World Fund, said:

"Since we invested in the company in 2021, we've been proud of their fantastic development. Within three years they have turned a proof-of-concept into an industry-ready product on shelves, and established partnerships with global giants. 

The fact that this Series A funding round was oversubscribed despite a wider downturn in foodtech investment is testament to their success."

Funds will be used to fuel further mass-market expansion following a landmark FMCG partnership announced in 2023, and to make ChoViva, the B2B foodtech startup's cocoa alternative, even more affordable.

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