Switzerland scientists growing chocolates in lab

Scientists in Switzerland are growing chocolates in a lab to tackle the deforestation and child labour caused by the world’s rising demand for chocolate. The scientists at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, begin the process by growing cell cultures from cocoa beans. The cultures are mixed with a nutrient solution and begin to multiply. The scientists harvest, dry, and roast the biomass. They add cocoa butter, sugar and an emulsifier called lecithin to produce a dark 70% strength chocolate.

The global demand for chocolate is growing which is resulting in deforestation in cocoa-growing regions as well as the increase in the use of child labour.

Chocolate is a global $130 billion industry that relies on one key ingredient; cocoa. Yet, many cocoa farmers make less than $1 per day. Growing cocoa has specific temperature, water, and humidity requirements. As a result, the equatorial regions of Africa, Central and South America, and Asia are optimal for cocoa farming.

Netherlands is the biggest importer of beans, and also the biggest processor—grinding 600,000 tons annually—and the fourth largest exporter of chocolate products. 

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are responsible for 70% of global cocoa production, and cocoa exports play a huge role in their economies. Although the majority of exporters come from equatorial regions, Belgium stands out in fifth place.

On the other hand, most of the top importers are in Europe—the Netherlands and Germany being the top two. Mars, Hershey, Cargill, and Blommer—some of the world’s biggest chocolate manufacturers and processors—are headquartered in the US.

Belgium is another key nation in the supply chain, importing cocoa beans from producing countries and exporting them across Europe. It’s also home to the world’s largest chocolate factory, supporting its annual chocolate exports worth $3.1 billion.

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