British company WNWN Food Labs has won ‘Best Demo’ at the Häagen-Dazs Start-Up Innovation Challenge, after showcasing how its cocoa-free vegan chocolate could be used to make ice cream.
In the final phase of the competition on June 13, WNWN presented its developments in the category of ice cream with the lowest carbon footprint. The company had developed nine preparations, including three varieties of chocolate hazelnut ice cream — one encased in a WNWN chocolate shell with WNWN choc chips inside, one in a tub, and one in the form of bite-sized pieces.
“Chocolate generates more emissions per kilogram than dairy”
As well as winning the Best Demo award, WNWN has been named as one of three finalists in the lowest carbon footprint category; the others are France’s YUMGO and Denmark’s Agrain. A total of ten finalists were chosen across all categories, from over 160 applicants.
The competition was run by the EU’s EIT Food, with the intention of helping ice cream giant Häagen-Dazs (owned by General Mills) to become more sustainable. The final phase took place at the company’s R&D centre in Arras, France. At least two finalists will now have the opportunity to partner with Häagen-Dazs to develop a proof-of-concept.
“The numbers don’t lie”
WNWN uses a proprietary fermentation process to transform plant-based ingredients such as cereals and legumes into cocoa-free chocolate alternatives. The products are said to have all the same properties as conventional chocolate, and are free of caffeine, animal products, gluten, and palm oil.
According to the company, its cocoa-free dark chocolate emits 80-90% fewer greenhouse gases than the traditional variety and does not contribute to issues such as deforestation, slavery, and child labour.
Late last year, WNWN announced that it was constructing a new facility to increase its production space eightfold. The startup then raised £4.5 million earlier in 2023 with the aim of launching its products at UK retail stores by the end of the year.
“The numbers don’t lie: chocolate itself generates more emissions per kilogram than dairy, so switching just that one ingredient dramatically reduces ice cream’s overall carbon footprint without requiring any other production changes,” said WNWN CEO Ahrum Pak. “Our cocoa-free chocolate is a simple one-to-one replacement for the chocolate formats General Mills currently uses.”