Alt-choc firm WNWN Food Labs collaborates with Fortnum & Mason
Dr Johnny Drain, of WNWN FoodLabs at work in its London R&D facilities. Pic: Neill Barston
Fast-rising alt-choc business WNWN Food Labs is set for an ambitious collaboration with Fortnum & Mason, as part of the major department store’s dedicated week of masterclasses, talks and dinners placing a key spotlight on sustainability, reports Neill Barston.
The London-based firm, which is among the first bring cocoa-free chocolate to the market, is presently working on expanding its existing product range for the emerging new segment, which will come into focus for an upcoming edition of Confectionery Production.
For its latest venture, it is teaming up with Fortnum’s, which is staging its Harvest Week from 22-28 September in its flagship Piccadilly store, bringing together experts from the industry to talk about the joys, challenges and opportunities facing food and farming today.
WNWN, through its chief technology office Dr Johnny Drain (pictured main image), and its in-house chocolatier will introduce its cocoa-free choc and how food technology can help build a more resilient and sustainable food system in the face of climate change.
As the business described, it employs a proprietary fermentation process to transform widely available plant-based ingredients including cereals and legumes to create cocoa-free choc that tastes, melts, snaps and bakes just like conventional chocolate.
It is vegan, caffeine-free, gluten-free, palm oil-free, and lower in sugar than comparable products. According to an internal lifecycle analysis, WNWN’s dark choc reportedly emits 90% less greenhouse gases than conventional chocolate, and does not contribute to deforestation, habitat destruction, and unfair labour practices like the conventional chocolate supply chain.
Last year, the company’s breakthrough ranges gained a new product award at the World Confectionery Conference in Brussels, and the business will once again be among attendees from across the industry for our event next month on 5 October at the Harrogate Convention Centre.
Fortnum’s is dedicated to the search for extraordinary food and drink experiences, and it just so happens that something extraordinary is happening right here in London in WNWN’s workshop,” said Hatty Cary, Fortnum’s Food & Drink Studio Producer. “Throughout our Harvest Week, we’ll be examining the UK food system as it stands today and as it could be tomorrow, so it’s great to be able to include a look at the possible future of chocolate.”
As WNWN noted, Cocoa prices are up a reported 66% in the UK and 46% in the U.S., while cocoa suppliers and chocolate purveyors are increasingly being challenged on their environmental and human rights harm. In the EU, a ban on cocoa and chocolate linked to deforestation took effect in June, while in the U.S., a federal lawsuit is calling for a block on imports of cocoa harvested by child labour. Globally, Starbucks is under fire for repeated failure to address cocoa supply chain questions. Cocoa crops are also highly vulnerable to climate change, including rising temperatures and reduced rainfall, which has led experts to predict chocolate shortages in the coming years.
“Fortnum’s is an institution of good taste and to be on their radar at all, let alone link up for this deep dive into food systems and sustainability, has been a great adventure,” said Drain. “For a retailer that’s been around since 1707, they are as forward-thinking and innovative as anyone in the industry, if not more.”
Harvest Week explores multiple themes in the world of food and beverage. WNWN will hold an event on Thursday 28 September from 3-5 p.m. including a demonstration and tasting. Drain, a world-renowned expert in fermentation and flavour, will also join Fortnum’s Monday events focusing on fermentation along with Douglas McMaster of Silo. You can register for the event here.