CULT Food Science, an investment platform with a focus on clean, lab-grown food, has diversified its cell-based food portfolio via a strategic investment into the cultured chocolate manufacturer, California Cultured.
Based in Davis, California, California Cultured uses cell culture technology to produce cocoa products like cocoa powder, chocolate, and cocoa butter with the goal of creating sustainable and ethical chocolate for consumption around the world.
California Cultured is focused on manufacturing cocoa by cultivating select optimum cocoa cells in tanks. Ingredients are to be sourced in the United States, which will ensure that its products adhere to high ethical and sustainability standards.
Two major concerns surround the production of chocolate – child labour on cocoa farms and deforestation. The chocolate industry is currently worth over USD 100 billion and relies on cocoa farmers to continue producing cocoa at a rapid pace.
On average, cocoa farmers earn below-poverty wages, which motivates them to seek the employment of children who receive little or no compensation. Some children are taken from their families at a young age, forced into harvesting cocoa, and do not return home for years.
Over the last ten years, the occurrence of child labour has continued to become more prevalent in countries like Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Regarding the second concern, the production of cocoa often relies on monoculture growth, which leads to complete deforestation on cocoa farms resulting in loss of primate populations in many West African countries where most of the cocoa farming is done.
“CULT is proud to support such a revolutionary venture that is aiming to be a leading catalyst in changing the global food industry for the better. California Cultured’s innovative, responsible and disruptive pursuit aligns well with our company’s ethos. We believe cell-cultured cocoa is the next step in the sustainable, safe, and ethical food production of a major global food category,” said Lejjy Gafour, president of CULT.