Food upcycling start-up Koa – specializing in repurposing cocoa pulp, a by-product from the chocolate industry as value-added ingredients – has captured USD 10 m in funding to raise its processing by tenfold at its plant in Ghana. The company also plans to share its upcycling technologies with 10,000 additional cocoa smallholders.
“Cocoa pulp has been vastly underutilized for practical reasons”, says Daniel Otu, Production and Operation Director at Koa. “The lack of infrastructure and the climatic conditions in cocoa-growing regions of Ghana requires a new approach with innovative processes and local investments. There’s only a short time window to preserve the fresh pulp. To manage that, we developed a decentralized process together with cocoa smallholders that smoothly integrates into the local and traditional harvesting setting.” The result of this process is that the new method only needs three hours between pod breaking to pasteurization.
Koa’s whole upcycling process reduces the on-farm food waste around cocoa fruit, generates additional income for farmers from previously discarded cocoa remains and brings new ingredients for the F&B industry. Daniel Otu, explains: “We currently offer three products to cover a wide range of applications. Koa Pure (cocoa fruit juice) is ideal for beverages or ice cream. Koa Concentrate (concentrated juice) is used for various pastry products, jellies or bakery goods. And for chocolate products or applications such as cereals, Koa Powder (dried cocoa fruit) is the matching ingredient.”