Italian food tech startup Foreverland has launched Freecao, a brand of cocoa-free chocolate made from Italian carob.
Carob is a legume that was historically eaten in challenging times when cocoa was not available. Despite having a similar taste to chocolate, carob production does not have any of the issues associated with cocoa production, such as slavery, deforestation, and child labour. Additionally, carob has health benefits such as a low glycemic index, high antioxidant content, and high levels of nutrients such as fibre. It is free of caffeine, gluten, and all major allergens.
Italy is the world’s second-largest producer of carob, a resilient crop that can grow in very dry conditions. Produced using innovative technologies, Freecao is said to generate 80% fewer emissions and require 90% less water than cocoa.
Based on its technology, Foreverland has been accepted into the Mass Challenge accelerator program in Switzerland, becoming the only Italian food tech startup to be selected. The company has also completed the FoodSeed accelerator program, managed by Eatable Adventures.
“Vehicle for innovation”
The first two products in the Freecao range are cocoa-free pralines and panettone. The pralines have been produced by Italian chocolate brand Bodrato, and feature a hazelnut cream centre. Oat extract and rice flour are used instead of dairy, making the product vegan-friendly.
The naturally leavened artisanal panettone has been introduced for the holiday season and is said to be the world’s first baked good made with cocoa-free chocolate. It has been developed in collaboration with Parco la Serra pastry shop in Castellana Grotte, and features Freecao drops and candied orange.
The launches come after the UK’s WNWN introduced what was claimed to be the world’s first commercially available cocoa-free chocolate last year.
“A high-quality panettone, synonymous with tradition, becomes a vehicle for innovation and change as the first step in developing products and collaborations that are not only good in taste but also for the planet and the future,” said Giuseppe D’Alessandro, CMO of Foreverland.
The pralines and panettone are now available from Foreverland’s website.