WNWN Food Labs set for major ‘alt choc’ production expansion after initial success
Fresh from claiming a World Confectionery Award for product innovation at our World Confectionery Conference, ‘alt choc’ company WNWN Food Labs is set to expand its UK production facilities, writes Neill Barston.
The company, which is among the first to market globally with its groundbreaking cocoa-free chocolate, using plant-based ingredients including organic carob and British barley—both sustainable and widely available, has reported strong demand this year, with its initial limited manufacturing runs exceeding expectations in rapidly selling out.
As the business explained to Confectionery Production, its enhanced facilities in London are set to expand its production capacity by a factor of eight, enabling it to deliver to a far larger range of consumer packaged goods businesses.
The new space in Main Yard in vibrant Hackney Wick nods to the neighbourhood’s rich history of commerce, scientific innovation, and food, as well as the historic home of Clarnico, once the largest confectioner in Britain. The facility will house R&D, manufacturing, a test kitchen, office space, and allow intimate events and demonstrations.
According to the company, the upturn in manufacturing will be matched by an expansion of its team, and expects to double its staff by the end of the year, as the market for the concept of cocoa-free ‘alt chocolate’ begins to gain market traction.
As previously reported, WNWN is just one of a small number of companies around the world who are developing this new segment of confectionery – which as its founders have highlighted, the fact that it is entirely lab-developed, has meant that it is created without the risk of child labour or deforestation witnessed within conventional cocoa supply chains.
“With this expansion we’ll be in gear to begin supplying small to midsize brands including Michelin-star restaurants, bakers, and foodservice distributors,” said WNWN co-founder Dr. Johnny Drain (pictured left of main image), who grew up a stone’s throw from the world-famous Cadbury chocolate factory in Birmingham. “Our direct-to-consumer product drops have sold out instantly, so this new space also allows us to perform more testing and development for future launches.”
WNWN applies traditional fermentation techniques to sustainable, widely available plant-based ingredients in a proprietary process to create cocoa-free chocolate that tastes, melts, snaps and bakes just like chocolate. Its formula is vegan, caffeine-free, gluten-free, palm oil-free, lower in sugar than comparable products, and safe for dogs since it contains no theobromine.
Judges for this year’s World Confectionery Awards had been impressed with the company’s passion for creating a product that would offer both strong and dynamic flavour profiles, as well as being ethically driven in its development. The company’s head chocolatier Jon Hogan (below) was on hand to collect the honours for the business, and expressed his confidence that its products would find a strong market as they continue to develop.