Planet-friendly chocolates, anyone?

 Planet-friendly chocolates, anyone?

Saurabh Tankha

If one were to ask you about the first zero waste, sustainable and planet-friendly (plastic and paper-free) bean-to-bar chocolate, would you know the answer? Perhaps not. The answer is Kocoatrait. Founded by L Nitin Chordia, the country’s first and only certified chocolate taster and his wife, Poonam, the chocolate brand has also helped prevent 50 kilo of single use chocolate wrappers from populating landfills. This is not all. If Nitin’s rough calculations are to be believed, 500 sheets of A4 size non-recycled paper use 6 per cent of an average size tree, thus they have saved 1/3rd a tree! “To put things in perspective, each tree will remove three kilos of carbon dioxide emissions per year from the air! Therefore, we have removed 1 kilo of carbon dioxide from the air!” shares Nitin.

www.lifeandmore.in had a long chat with the chocolate-maker…

You claim to be the world’s first zero waste, eco/ planet friendly, sustainable and vegan bean-to-bar chocolate…
Because no one (including large chocolate companies across the world) has yet been able to demonstrate the agility and make the effort to introduce the innovation we have already executed. Only now, a German chocolate company is trialling out plastic-free packaging. We are paper, plastic and tree free!
Why call it Kocoatrait?
We operate an initiative called Cocoatrait (starting with C) to promote the production, awareness and consumption of bean to bar chocolates in India and across the world. While we decided to launch our brand, we wanted to ensure that we are legally never challenged and hence, we chose a name that can be applied for a trademark. Hence, we just changed the first letter of our product to K. To our surprise, the name got registered in less than three months!
When did the idea of Saving the Planet strike and how did you go about it?
Kocoatrait was born out of a need to have a frontend proof of concept for our institute. This was forced upon us by students inquiring from India about our signature four-day bean to bar chocolate making course and asking us whether we have a brand of our own. We started getting asked why we don’t have our own chocolate brand. This got us thinking about the opportunity and my wife, Poonam, and I decided to do something about it! She came up with nine different recipes and we started building on the aspects of the brand/ product in mid-2018. We had the luxury of time to build a brand based on the sustainability and circular economy approach and which we feel and think is the future of bean to bar chocolates and any food product thereof.

Nitin and Poonam, the first certified chocolate taster couple

While building Kocoatrait, we noticed that many start-up brands had no clue about how to position themselves and also did not realise it has an impact on the industry overall because they are early starters. We wanted to set an example and wanted to be planet-friendly, catering to the more educated, well-travelled and evolved audiences.
We decided to spend a lot of effort on innovating on the packaging apart from using sustainable and organic ingredients to build our range of chocolates. Overall, as an institute, we hoped that our students and the others who will enter this industry, look up to this effort and get inspired and do better. The sunrise bean to bar industry clearly needs out of the box thinking and innovation from the very start to differentiate. We got things in place over the next two-three quarters and launched in Chocoa in Amsterdam in early 2019.
What kind of research and financials went into this effort?
We spent over nine months experimenting with various sustainable options and went about eliminating concepts that were either too futuristic or not practical. Since there are not many experts as of now in the world in the subject of Circular Economy and Sustainability, we were left to find the path ourselves. It cost us close to Rs 5.5 lakh to experiment and come up with our final solution.
What is upcycled cocoa husk wrapper?
The Zero Waste chocolate bar starts with our packaging material which is upcycled by using reclaimed cotton and coco husk, both of which, otherwise, would contribute to landfill. This makes it paper, plastic and tree free and is also compostable biodegradable and recyclable.
Does the cost escalates if the upcycled cocoa husk wrapper is used vis-à-vis normal wrapper?
Our efforts have ensured there is only a marginal increase in the costs. We have minimum wastage while using the upcycled cocoa husk paper. However, both we and our consumers believe it is too small a price to pay for a planet friendly and sustainable product.
Is the increased cost borne by the customer or the manufacturer?
Eventually, a manufacturer cannot bear the increase in cost. It has to be borne by the customer.
How and when did you become the first certified chocolate taster of the country?
I was the first Indian to get certified by The International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting, UK in 2015. IICCT is the only body in the world that certifies individuals. No one from India had been certified until 2017 when Poonam, my wife and business partner decided to pursue her Level 1 certification in London. As a result, she was the first certified female chocolate taster in India. We have since certified 25 individuals in India as part of our collaboration with IICCT, UK.

The 12 chocolate versions are…

55% Irish Cream Dark Milk Chocolate            Rs 235 for 45 g
65% Coconut Cinnamon Dark                             Rs 235 for 45 g
64% Plain Dark Chocolate                                   Rs 190 for 45 g
64% Lavender Dark Chocolate                          Rs 190 for 45 g
64% Sukku Coffee Dark Chocolate                  Rs 190 for 45 g
65% Masala Chai Dark Chocolate                     Rs 190 for 45 g
65% Pink Rose Dark Chocolate                         Rs 190 for 45 g
65% Red Rose Dark Chocolate                          Rs 190 for 45 g
66% Banana Dark Chocolate                             Rs 190 for 45 g
66% Lemongrass Dark Chocolate                    Rs 190 for 45 g
70% Dark Jaggery Dark Chocolate                  Rs 190 for 45 g
70% Plain Dark Chocolate                                   Rs 190 for 45 g

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