5 concepts that lead the way in cacao upcycling

2 May 2022


On Stop Food Waste Day (April 27), we look at five initiatives that are shaking up the chocolate scene by upcycling otherwise discarded parts of the cacao fruit, such as the juice, pulp and shell. They produce tasty snacks that appeal to consumers with a penchant for sustainable products. 

Environmentally minded shoppers are no longer a small minority. According to our Taste Tomorrow research, 43 percent of global consumers are interested in products made from upcycled ingredients, and 61 percent in zero-waste foods. So perhaps we can inspire you to develop your own products appealing to this target market!  

1. CaPao: fruit bites that reduce CO2 emissions

Although they’re made with cacao fruit, CaPao bites are nothing like chocolate. These snacks resemble bliss balls or energy balls and are made of cacao pulp, which is usually discarded once the beans are taken out of the fruit. CaPao combines the sweet and zesty pulp with nuts, seeds and other fruits to create Cacaofruit Bites. It promotes its snacks as a sustainable option, because the saving in CO2 emissions from upcycling cacao is the equivalent of planting 3.5 billion trees a year. 

Vosges products don’t just offer a functional aspect, but a spiritual one as well. When the chocolate cools from liquid to solid, it is infused with a 528hZ frequency that should create a transformational and healing experience, which improves physical and mental health. Vosges offers cacao elixirs that boosts energy and mood, bars with adaptogens such as spirulina and matcha that can substitute a cup of coffee, but also sets that include chocolate, crystals and meditation cards.

2. Kumasi: cacao drink that makes an impact

Soda company Kumasi is named after the capital of the cacao-producing region of Ghana. The Dutch startup upcycles the juice and pulp into a refreshing drink that honors the natural, unprocessed flavor of the fruit: a mixture of lychee, mango and white peach. By using these waste flows from the chocolate industry to make a drink, Kumasi also secures more income for farmers. Besides fighting poverty, it seeks to stimulate gender equality and help to combat deforestation.

3. Incoa: a 100 percent cacao chocolate bar

Nestlé’s Les Recettes de L’Atelier Incoa is a 70 percent chocolate bar made with nothing but cacao, sweetened with naturally sweet pulp. Sold in stores throughout Europe, it taps into the clean-label and upcycling trends. 


“People are looking for something that little bit different and more sustainable from their chocolate,” says Nestlé’s head of confectionery, Alexander von Maillot, in a news update. “The fact that Incoa is made from the cacao fruit and nothing else means it cuts waste and brings additional value to the cocoa sector."

4. Blue Stripes: holistic superfood wellness

Blue Stripes sees cacao as a superfruit with ‘miraculous natural powers’. Its products claim to improve physical, mental and emotional balance, and even bone structure and mental focus, using the entire fruit: shell, pulp, and beans. Blue Stripes offers cacao water, 70 percent cacao trail mix, a smoothie boost, whole cacao granola and chocolate bars. Unlike the other brands in this list, these are promoted more as a wellness solution than a sustainable choice. The products should benefit everything from bone structure to focus because of the superfood qualities. 

5. Candid: clean cacao snacks

Noons, an “afternoon delight” snack from Candid, is made with cacao seeds and pods and other fruits. Where lots of other chocolate products have long ingredient lists including sugar and emulsifiers, Noons keep these short and simple, claiming they ‘let chocolate’s inner beauty shine’. The cacao is sourced from small, independent family farms in Latin America which are paid premium prices.

These first movers are upcycling previously unused parts of the cacao fruit to make drinks and snacks, but the range of potential applications is much wider, Nestlé’s Alexander von Maillot says in an interview with Reuters. So we’ll likely be seeing cakes, ice cream, bread, and pastries with cocoa pulp as well in the future.


Taste Tomorrow is the world’s largest ecosystem for consumer understanding in bakery, patisserie and chocolate. By tracking local and global consumer behaviors, attitudes and choices it provides us with valuable, in-depth insights. We are able to use these insights to track the evolution of trends and reveal new ones, helping your business to stay connected to your customers and discover new opportunities.

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