Would you eat chocolate made from bacteria?
With half of the world’s cacao crop at risk from pathogens and climate change — and plantations playing a role in deforestation and forced labor — consumers may not have a choice.
That’s why the $208 billion chocolate industry is looking for alternatives. And why investors have suddenly developed a sweet tooth for companies trying to do to chocolate what Impossible Foods have done for the meat industry and what Perfect Day has done for dairy.
So meet the Munich-based startup QOA. TechCrunch reported that the company has raised $6 million in seed funding from investment firms including Cherry Ventures, Fifty Years, World Fund, Nucleus Capital, Pioneer Fund, and Trellis Road.
Founded by the brother and sister team of Maximilian and Sara Marquart, the company graduated from the storied Silicon Valley accelerator, Y Combinator, earlier this year.
Previously Sara Marquart had done a stint at the lab-grown coffee company Atomo, which is making coffee without the beans.
It’s a similar approach to the chocolate work that QOA is exploring. And QOA isn’t alone in its quest to ditch the bean.
The fermentation approach that QOA hopes to use means that the company will reach a commercial scale by 2035, at which point it would price its products at a cost below chocolate, according to TechCrunch.
The first of QOA’s goodies could hit the market as soon as 2022, according to the company and the funding is going to be used to expand production with a facility in Munich to match its initial offices in Switzerland.