Nukoko raises seed funding to scale up

Nukoko, a bean-to-bar cocoa-free chocolate maker announced that it has successfully raised US$1.5 million in seed funding, led by Oyster Bay Venture Capital with participation from SOSV and The Mills Fabrica and an Innovate UK grant to scale up their technology.

As the chocolate industry is facing the consequences of a three year supply deficit, in part driven by the impact of climate change on cocoa farmers in West Africa predominantly, cocoa prices have hit an all-time high, up 89% in 2023 and doubling again in the early months of 2024.

Founded in 2022 by second time chocolate entrepreneurs Ross Netwon and Kit Tomlinson alongside cocoa research scientist Professor David Salt, Nukoko have developed a fermentation process that is designed to closely mimic traditional cocoa fermentation, enabling them to turn the fava bean into a delicious chocolate alternative.

By utilising fava beans, a nitrogen fixing plant commonly used as a rotational crop in agriculture, Nukoko’s chocolate alternative produces up to 90% less CO2 emissions than chocolate without the need for further deforestation, nor does it have any related child labour issues. Their ‘bean-to-bar’ choc boasts 40% less sugar and a host of positive nutritional benefits such as high protein, fibre, and antioxidants inherent in the fava bean.

The company has gained substantial traction since winning a place on the biotech program IndieBio in New York in 2023, being named in the Foodtech 500 in 2024 and securing development agreements with the Coop group, a Swiss food company with over 2500 retail sites.

‘’We have worked in the cocoa industry for over 10 years, and we love it but the chocolate industry as we know it is in trouble. We’re on the back of a 3-year supply deficit resulting in a cocoa price that is crippling the manufacturers and impacting consumers.,” commented Ross Newton, Founder, Nukoko.

‘’At Nukoko we want to provide a viable alternative to chocolate, that is from a trusted ingredient with a natural and planet positive production process. We believe that being a true and authentic ‘bean-to-bar’ manufacturer, that uses fava beans not cocoa beans to make our chocolate alternative, sets us apart and resonates with consumers’,” added Prof. David Salt (CSO).

‘’Nukoko’s ability to provide a 1:1 replacement for cocoa and chocolate to the manufacturing market with a natural, plant-based product that is more sustainable, cost-effective and healthier than chocolate is transformative. We are on a mission to make a profound difference and drastically reduce the impact of the chocolate industry on the planet,” said Kit Tomlinson, Founder, Nukoko.

The investment will allow Nukoko to scale up their process to industrial scale production ahead of a market launch, as well as increase the R&D headcount to develop their ability to flavour match different cocoa flavour profiles.

The company’s commercial strategy is through a combination of key retail and B2B partnerships, with the aim to incorporate their products into major food manufacturers.

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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