Planet A Foods, headquartered in Munich, has successfully raised €15.4 million in a Series A funding round. The startup, known for its innovative approach to ingredients, focuses on supplying the food industry with sustainable and nutritious components. Their latest venture involves introducing a global audience to cocoa-free chocolate as part of their commitment to sustainability.

The recently acquired capital will be instrumental in advancing the global expansion of Planet A Foods’ cocoa-free chocolate ChoViva into key markets. Additionally, the funds will support the extension of their fermentation platform from cocoa to various other plant-based ingredients. This financial boost aims to propel mass-market growth, building on the momentum generated by a significant FMCG partnership announced in 2023. The objective is to make ChoViva, the B2B foodtech startup’s cocoa alternative, even more, accessible by enhancing affordability.

The Investors

Leading the funding round is World Fund, one of Europe’s prominent climate venture funds, along with participation from key investors such as Omnes Capital, Cherry Ventures, Mudcake, Nucleus Capital, TriplePoint Capital, Feast Ventures, and others. Having successfully closed the round in 2023, Planet A Foods has introduced several products in collaboration with REWE, a leading European retailer. The company is now gearing up for additional product launches with REWE and other prominent retailers in Germany and the UK. Beyond retail partnerships, Planet A Foods has established key collaborations with industry players including Griesson – de Beukelaer, Peter Kölln, Spitz, Hans Freitag, and Lufthansa. Notably, Lindt has recently unveiled a vegan chocolate product featuring ChoViva.

Sustainable & Versatile Cocoa-Free Chocolate

Utilizing a portion of the funding, the Planet A Foods team has successfully expanded production capacity at its factory. Presently, the facility operates in an IFS-certified and remarkably efficient production environment, enabling the production of 750kg of ChoViva per hour.

Utilizing proprietary technologies, the company employs a fermentation process that transforms locally sourced, all-natural ingredients like oats and sunflower seeds into ChoViva. This results in a cocoa mass and cocoa butter with a delightful melt-in-the-mouth texture and a rich chocolate flavor. The versatility of the product allows for its use in a hybrid context alongside conventional chocolate or as a complete substitute. Notably, ChoViva boasts up to 30% less sugar and maintains a remarkably low CO2 footprint, attributed to the use of local ingredients and short supply chains.

Cocoa Crisis: Planet A’s Mission

In 2021, twins Drs. Max and Sara Marquart founded Planet A Foods with the mission of providing a sustainable alternative to cocoa for chocolate enthusiasts worldwide. Despite the growing global demand for chocolate, conventional production is facing significant challenges and environmental costs. Climate change, coupled with a broader biodiversity crisis, poses a threat to cocoa production viability. Adverse weather conditions and crop diseases in West Africa are diminishing crop yields, while available arable land for cocoa cultivation is becoming scarcer.

Dr. Max Marquart, co-founder, and CEO of Planet A Foods, emphasized the urgency of addressing these challenges, stating:

“Unless we take new measures, chocolate will surpass caviar in cost in the future. The company aims to contribute to the solution through ChoViva, creating a sustainable alternative to alleviate the pressure on the cocoa supply chain. The Series A funding round has played a crucial role in enabling large-scale production and consistent supply of ChoViva to customers. Having established trust and reliability within the German confectionery industry, Planet A Foods is now gearing up for international expansion in 2024 and beyond. Moreover, they are actively seeking partners to support scaling efforts and entry into new markets for innovative cocoa-free chocolate.

Dr. Sara Marquart, co-founder, and CTO of Planet A Foods expressed the impact of the Series A funding, stating:

“Fueled by the funding, we not only diversified our product portfolio but also elevated the taste and texture, solidifying our position as a leading force in the alternative cocoa and chocolate sector. The funding further accelerated the development of the technology platform, enabling the hiring of top-tier experts in lipids, chocolate, and synthetic biology. Therefore, The production of cocoa butter and palm oil alternatives has been scaled up to an industrial level, positioning the company for exciting new product launches.”

Related Content: UK-based sustainable chocolate startup Love Cocoa snaps €4.8M

Amid worsening climate impacts, there is a growing market for the affordable and planet-friendly products offered by the siblings. With chocolate prices hitting a 45-year high and US cocoa futures appreciating over 40% year-on-year, the timing for cocoa-free chocolate is opportune. The global chocolate confectionery industry, valued at $254 billion in 2024, is anticipated to grow annually by over 5.6% between 2024 and 2028. In response to this demand, Planet A Foods has planned multiple product launches in 2024 and is actively making key strategic hires to strengthen its 40+ team in Germany. The funds raised will support the UK launch this year and further optimization of the production system. The company is also initiating global expansion plans, engaging in discussions with strategic distribution partners in other European markets, across Asia, and the US.

Daria Saharova, Managing Partner at World Fund, added:

“With chocolate prices surging to all-time highs, Sara, Max, and the team have developed the ideal solution at the ideal moment to address the widespread climate effect of cocoa. We have been delighted to witness the company’s outstanding growth since our investment in 2021. In just three years, they went from a proof-of-concept to a commercially viable product and forged alliances with major international corporations. Their success shows as investors oversubscribed this Series A funding round, despite a general decline in foodtech investment. We are ecstatic to have spearheaded this round for Planet A Foods, and we look forward to working with the team to realize their aspirations for rapid worldwide expansion in 2024 and beyond.”

Image Credit: Planet A Foods


Data professional, Writer and Thinker at TECHnicalBeep, aspiring to provide quality content with respect to "All things Startups" to our readers. It is important for the people that they are aware of how the world is changing and evolving daily, and how those ideas and innovations can potentially help grow the Ideasphere of the region.

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