BERKELEY, CALIF. — Craft chocolate maker TCHO is moving to plant-based ingredients, with a commitment to make its entire product line animal-free by 2023.
Six new bars featuring plant-based dairy alternatives are joining the Berkeley, Calif.-based company’s lineup, gradually replacing its remaining supply of milk chocolate-based bars. The bars are available online through TCHO’s direct-to-consumer platform.
New varieties set to replace all remaining retail chocolate bars include Toffee Time, featuring a non-dairy base of cashew butter, coconut sugar, oat milk and cocoa flecked with sea salt and vegan toffee pieces, and Aww Nuts, a dark chocolate bar filled with finely ground almonds. A Choco Latte bar features oat milk and organic coffee beans.
Also joining TCHO’s lineup are Holy Fudge, a single-origin Ghanaian dark chocolate bar reminiscent of crispy brownie edges, and Born Fruity, a single-origin Peruvian dark chocolate bar with deep fruity notes. A new Dark Duo bar features an outer shell made with chocolate cacao from Holy Fudge and filled with the fruit-forward cacao of Born Fruity.
“Reducing our reliance on dairy is one of the quickest ways we can lighten our impact on the environment,” said Josh Mohr, senior vice president of marketing at TCHO. “While this will not be an easy transition for us, we know it’s the right one. From the beginning, TCHO has been committed to working with our farming partners in the field, improving farming techniques, bettering soil conditions and doing what we can to help minimize deforestation — all of which speaks to a plant-based model.”
The plant-based bars join five existing retail baking bags that have been renamed and redesigned: Hawt Chocolate drinking chocolate, Sweet & Sassy bittersweet baking chocolate, Dark & Bitter unsweetened baking chocolate, Super Powder cocoa powder and Crush This roasted cocoa nibs. The baking products already were naturally dairy free, according to the company. TCHO’s professional baking line, used by restaurant kitchens and bakeries nationwide, will be plant-based in early 2022.
Brad Kintzer, chief chocolate maker for TCHO and president of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, spent three years working with his team to perfect the plant-based chocolate formula.
“The spirit of TCHO is rooted in the idea of accepting challenges and trying to bring them to life,” Mr. Kintzer said. “Taking out dairy and focusing entirely on plants opened up a whole new world for us. We’re proud of the unique flavor profiles we’ve created. Our alt-milk is an entirely new cacao experience.”
TCHO also transformed its packaging to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The company’s new storable paper carton is fully recyclable, and the chocolate is wrapped in layers of 100% post-consumer wastepaper and certified compostable film. Instead of the previous single bar, the new packaging features three individually wrapped portions, which are intended to make the chocolate easier to share or stow away for later, according to the company. A QR code on the packaging redirects consumers to a page providing tracking information for the cacao from each bar.The company in September was awarded B Corp Status for its sustainability efforts through the TCHO Source Program, which invests in infrastructure, training and higher wages for farmers.