Japanese food manufacturer sets up independent factory to produce allergen-free chocolates
The factory located in Gifu prefecture, Japan, only produces allergen-free chocolates that do not contain a raft of allergens, including wheat, milk, nuts and soybeans.
It was founded by Koji Kani who wants to enable children with food allergies to enjoy chocolates.
However, as his company also produces chocolates containing almond and nuts, and cleaning production machines will not entirely remove allergens, Kani decided to set up an independent facility to produce allergen-free chocolates.
He started the factory in August last year, with the first three months spent in making trial products.
Priced at ¥1,000 per bar, the allergen-free chocolate went on sale five months ago on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and supermarkets in Japan.
With eye-catching phrases and colourful icons, the chocolate packaging clearly lists down all the allergens that are not present in the chocolate.
Although the firm only started selling the chocolates in February, production amount is stable at “2.1 tonnes per month”, Shigemitsu Okawa, general manager of NK-Lassic (a cooperative firm of Nikkoh Co. in Singapore) told FoodNavigator-Asia.
As the absence of dairy ingredients would cause chocolates to taste bitter, the firm would need to find a way to control the level of bitterness, so that consumers can truly enjoy chocolates without an overwhelming bitter taste.
To do so, the company “doubled the maturational period of the cacao by 1.5 times”, said Okawa.
He added that the firm intended to increase production amounts, to further cater to the “demands of people with (food) allergies.”
Besides providing people with allergies the opportunity to enjoy chocolates, Okawa said that the factory was also opened to provide employment opportunities for the elderly.
Corporate social responsibilities
The factory is operated by six elderly workers who are between 68 to 75 years old.
Okawa said that the company hopes that employing the elderly will allow them to lead a fulfilling and satisfying life.
In addition, after deducting material and labour costs, the company donates its profits to two orphanages.