Raising the bar? Japanese start-up creates ‘guilt-free’ chocolate for active consumers

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The company first launched on crowdfunding site, Makuake, and has plans to retail online by the end of January this year.  ©True Food & Design
The company first launched on crowdfunding site, Makuake, and has plans to retail online by the end of January this year. ©True Food & Design

Related tags: Chocolate, Japan, vegan

Japanese start-up True Food & Design is developing a healthy, natural, vegan chocolate product that contains zero sugar, sugar alcohol and artificial sweeteners.

The product is called True Food Chocolate, and contains six ingredients only: cacao, coconut, chicory, vanilla, hemp seed, and monk fruit. It is available in two flavours, plain and dark.

Hisae Mukuno, founder & CEO at True Food & Design told FoodNavigator-Asia​ that the company was specifically focusing on active consumers, as they see a demand for people who work out and want healthier chocolate.

Chocolate insights

According to Mukuno” “There is a stereotype that chocolate is not good for health since conventional chocolate on the market contain lots of sugars and fats​,

In Japan, there are some healthy chocolate products made from only unrefined sugar and cacao, or agave syrup instead of regular sugar, but these are still not popular. Most of the retail stores don't sell such products as the market is still emerging. In terms of sugar-free chocolate, there are barely any products with sugar-free and non-artificial sweeteners​.”

The company was founded in 2019 with the goal to create tasty yet healthy foods and it hopes its chocolate product can fulfill this need.

The company is also hoping to cash in on the vegan market with its plant-based product. “In Japan, there are not many vegan chocolates in the market​,” Mukuno said.

We believe our products can make an impact on the market as a new type of chocolate​.”

Raising the bar

The R&D spanned more than six months including concept development, as the team struggled with creating the right texture.

We initially wanted to create new chocolate for active consumers because we feel there is a huge opportunity. Our focus was the texture, which tastes lighter and crispier than normal chocolate. This makes it suitable for consumption in the morning or even right after a workout​,” Mukuno said.

Each 100g of plain chocolate contain 3.9g of sugar, which is less than one-tenth that of conventional milk chocolate.

Because it is made using plant-based ingredients, it is also five times higher in fibre than that of conventional chocolate, containing 18.2g per 100g.

The company first launched on crowdfunding site, Makuake, and has plans to retail online by the end of January this year. There are also plans to sell in physical retail stores where Mukuno thinks, “are an important touch point with active consumers​.”

Mukuno said the company would test its chocolate product in the domestic market first, before expanding to other markets. True Food Chocolate retails for JPY4950 (US$45.77) including tax for two packs.

Besides chocolate, the company may develop other snacks in the future. The company’s facility is located in Saitama, Japan.

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