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Planet A Foods secures €14.2 million in funding to promote sustainable cocoa-free chocolate on a global scale

February 2, 2024

Munich-based Planet A Foods has successfully concluded a Series A funding round, securing €14.2 million (US$15.4 million) for its mission to provide sustainable and nutritious ingredients to the food industry. The funds will facilitate the company's expansion, particularly following a significant FMCG partnership announced in 2023. A notable portion of the investment will be dedicated to enhancing the affordability of ChoViva, the B2B food-tech startup's cocoa alternative.

World Fund, a prominent European climate venture fund, spearheaded the funding round, with participation from investors such as Omnes Capital, Cherry Ventures, Mudcake, Nucleus Capital, TriplePoint Capital, Feast Ventures, and others. Having already launched various products with European retailer REWE, Planet A Foods is gearing up for additional launches with REWE and other retailers in Germany and the UK. The company has also formed key partnerships with industry leaders like Griesson – de Beukelaer, Peter Kölln, Spitz, Hans Freitag, and Lufthansa. Notably, Lindt recently introduced a vegan chocolate product featuring ChoViva.

Planet A Foods has strategically utilized the funding to scale up ChoViva production at its IFS-certified factory, achieving a capacity of 750kg per hour. The company's proprietary fermentation process transforms locally-sourced, all-natural ingredients, including oats and sunflower seeds, into ChoViva—a cocoa alternative with a rich chocolate flavor and a melt-in-the-mouth texture. This product, suitable for hybrid use with traditional chocolate or as a full replacement, boasts up to 30% less sugar and a minimal CO2 footprint.

Founded in 2021 by twins Max and Sara Marquart, Planet A Foods aims to address the challenges posed by climate change and the biodiversity crisis in conventional cocoa production. Dr Max Marquart, CEO, emphasizes the urgency of finding sustainable solutions for the chocolate industry, envisioning a future where chocolate may become more expensive than caviar without innovative steps. “In the future, chocolate will become more expensive than caviar unless new steps are taken," he said. "We are working every day to be part of the solution with ChoViva, through building a second pillar next to chocolate to take some load off the cocoa supply chain. This Series A round has already enabled us to deliver large-scale production and continuously supply our customers with ChoViva. We have become a reliable, trusted industry partner for the German confectionery industry, and demonstrated that we can deliver at price parity with traditional chocolate providers. 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!”

“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," added Dr Sara Marquart. "The Series A additionally expedited the advancement of our technology platform, allowing us to hire top-tier experts in the realms of lipids, chocolate, and synbio. We have now scaled up the production of our cocoa butter and palm oil alternatives to an industrial level, and are positioned for exciting new product launches.”

With global chocolate prices reaching a 45-year high due to climate impact, Planet A Foods is well-poised to meet the rising demand for affordable and environmentally friendly chocolate alternatives. The company plans a series of product launches in 2024 and aims to expand into the UK, optimize its production system, and explore international markets.

Daria Saharova, Managing Partner at World Fund, commended Planet A Foods for its impactful product addressing cocoa's climate impact and expresses confidence in their success during global expansion in 2024 and beyond. “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 food-tech investment is a testament to their success. We are thrilled to have led this round for Planet A Foods, and can’t wait to help the team deliver on their ambitious global expansion plans in 2024 and beyond.”

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