LONDON — WNWN Food Labs, a maker of cocoa-free alternative chocolate, has raised $5.6 million in a Series A funding round. The round was led by venture capital firm PeakBridge and included investors like PINC, HackCapital, Investbridge AgriTech and Martin Braun-Gruppe.
Offering a plant-based, vegan and low-sugar alternative, WNWN’s chocolate is made from British barley, carob, legumes and other plant-based ingredients. The company’s proprietary fermentation process converts these ingredients into a cocoa-free chocolate that tastes, melts, snaps and bakes like conventional chocolate while producing 80% less carbon emissions, according to an internal lifecycle analysis by WNWN. The startup is one of a growing number in the alternative chocolate space, with companies like California Cultured Inc. and Fazer exploring cell-cultured cocoa and cocoa products.
“This funding is a validation of our science and our ability to scale,” said Johnny Drain, PhD, co-founder and chief technology officer at WNWN. “With demand for chocolate said to be increasing year over year, conventional supply chains can't keep up, at least not at the expense of the planet and human dignity.”
Funding from the round will go toward expanding the company’s manufacturing capabilities for its line of dark choc thins and Waim! bars, a variation of Mondelez International Inc.’s Daim bar. Additional funds will be used to enlarge the company’s workforce ahead of its launch in an unspecified UK retailer this year.
“Ingredient innovations like WNWN’s are key to building a more resilient, equitable, sustainable food system, and this in turn opens the doors to other goals like responsible production and consumption,” said Erich Sieber, founding partner at PeakBridge. “Not only does WNWN's product have the potential to offer health benefits and address sustainability concerns, but it also opens up a world of exciting flavor possibilities.”WNWN joins companies like Forsea Foods, Ltd. , Imagindairy Ltd. and Ukko Inc. in PeakBridge’s investment portfolio of food technology startups focusing on sustainability and health.