HELSINKI, FINLAND — Finnish company Fazer is researching the potential of cellular agriculture for sustainable production of cocoa raw material.

The company has partnered with VTT, a research and development company owned by the Finnish state, said Heli Anttila, vice president of new product development at Fazer Confectionery. Business Finland, a Finnish government organization, is providing funding.

“Cellular agriculture means biotechnological production instead of farming, with minimal land and other natural resources required for the production,” said research team leader Heiko Rischer, PhD, a principal scientist at VTT. “The production takes instead place in bioreactors under controlled conditions. Cell-cultured cocoa is a novel food in EU, and it needs to be approved according to the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) process.”

Annika Porr, senior manager at Fazer Confectionery’s lab, added, “It will take years before cell-cultured cocoa is launched on the market. This is a long-term project aiming at the future. Managing traditional cocoa sustainably is Fazer’s first and foremost priority, but we want to explore and innovate for the future, too.”

Fazer sources cocoa from Ecuador and West Africa. Climate change is threatening traditional cocoa-growing areas near the Equator, creating a need to explore alternative sources, according to Fazer.