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It takes a staggering 19,928 liters of water to create 1 kg of cocoa beans (with other estimates going as high as 27,000 liters). Between 2001 and 2015, cocoa farming caused the deforestation of 2.3 million hectares of rainforest and old growth forest. And 1.56 million children work in cocoa production in Ghana and Ivory Coast alone.
While chocolate manufacturers are trying to lighten cocoa's negative load, those improvements aren't happening fast enough. Which is why QOA is taking a different route: removing cocoa from the equation. Founders Sara and Maximilan Marquart — brother and sister, and food chemist and engineer — analyzed the chemical composition of chocolate and set out to compose a substitute with the same taste and mouthfeel, but made by fermenting sustainable ingredients, including byproducts of other food manufacturing processes.
Milk and burgers without cows, eggs and nuggets without chickens — most of the new 'beyond' products are about eliminating animals from food, for reasons both moral and environmental. But as QOA shows, the food reinvention movement is widening.
QOA isn't aiming to replace cocoa altogether — it's focusing on providing an alternative to the lower-quality commodity that's used in candy bars and other highly processed foods. As co-founder Sara Marquart told Fast Company: “We love chocolate, we love cocoa, and we love the product that is produced in a sustainable and just way by small-stake farmers. [...] We’re just wanting to offer a solution for mass market chocolate that we can skip the CO2 footprint and the child slavery.”