Chocolate brand TCHO shows dairy is unnecessary: ​​Goes vegan, wins awards and cuts emissions

Last December, Berkeley-based chocolate brand TCHO announced plans to go vegan by the end of 2023. However, TCHO achieved that goal months ahead of schedule, reducing its overall gas emissions to greenhouse effect of more than 75% and continuing to win international chocolate. rewards without wasting time.

“We’re really excited to announce that we had our final dairy production at our Berkeley, CA factory in August 2022 and are now officially a dairy-free factory and chocolate company,” Josh Mohr, vice -chief marketing officer at TCHO Ventures, tells VegNews.

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Instead of dairy, TCHO now uses oat milk to create unique chocolate offerings such as its six-bar line that includes Toffee Time (a creamy bar with crunchy caramel and flecks of sea salt); Holy Fudge (made with Ghanaian dark chocolate with a flavor meant to evoke the crispy brownie edges); and Choco Latté (a coffee truffle bar filled with oat milk chocolate and organic coffee beans.)

The removal of dairy from its product lines, which includes its professional line, has also come with significant sustainability benefits. “TCHO is B Corp Certified, Organic Certified, and Fair Trade Certified, so we already have aggressive sustainability goals,” says Mohr. “Replacing cow’s milk and going 100% plant-based is another huge step in the right direction.”

“The greenhouse gas emissions associated with TCHO’s dairy-free chocolate are more than three-quarters lower than our original dairy milk bars,” says Mohr.

Along with its decision to go vegan, TCHO has transitioned its packaging to fully recyclable paper cartons, and the vegan chocolate bars they contain are now wrapped in layers of 100% post-consumer recycled paper and of a certified compostable film.

TCHO’s new oat milk chocolates

TCHO was first launched in 2007 with principles aimed at bringing higher ethical and sustainability standards to the chocolate industry. The company’s head chocolatier, Brad Kirzner, was tasked with transitioning the formulations to meet TCHO’s award-winning standards and he was both excited and nervous about taking on the challenge.

A botanist and cocoa enthusiast, Kirzner tells VegNews that the company’s philosophy is centered around curiosity, an important element that inspires team members to discover new and exciting ways to use cocoa in combination with the vast world of herbal ingredients.

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“The challenge was always whether we could come close to making plant-based milk that we could be proud of and that took years of development and curiosity,” he says. “It was deconstructing what we really love about milk chocolate.”

After three years of rigorous development, Kirzner and the TCHO team landed on a base of cashew butter, Balinese coconut sugar, and creamy oat milk, a combination that perfectly replicates the creaminess, sweet nuttiness, the caramel notes and sweet mouthfeel that dairy brings to chocolate.

“Once we knew we could make incredibly delicious oat milk chocolate, it was clear that TCHO needed to stop all our dairy production and go 100% plant-based,” says Mohr.

In addition to its retail line of products, TCHO has transitioned its professional line of chocolate products to be entirely vegan and is launching exciting new options for professionals in the food industry. This month, TCHO is adding Oat My Gawd Oat Milk Baking Chocolate (46%) and Choco Blanco Oat Milk White Chocolate (35%) to its world-opening professional offerings. possibilities for vegan confections.

TCHO’s new vegan white chocolate is one of the few currently on the market and Kirzner made sure to craft it with the utmost care – using vanilla from Madagascar, creamy oat milk, butters from cocoa and cashew nuts, a little sugar and a touch of coconut. oil. “It’s a different kind of white chocolate,” Kirzner says proudly.

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The Choco Blanco and Oat My Gawd formulations have also received numerous contributions from industry professionals such as chefs David Rodriquez and Erin Kanagy-Loux, and Salt & Straw and Humphrey Slocombe (ice cream chains that use TCHO in their offerings). ).

And the new professional line is already hitting menus, including at famed vegan restaurant Millenium in Oakland, California. “This chocolate is a game-changer for any chef or baker looking to expand their vegan offering,” Saloni Mehra, pastry chef at Millennium, said in a statement.

Oat milk chocolate for the win

Since its launch 15 years ago, TCHO has won more than 30 awards at the International Chocolate Awards (ICA), a globally recognized event that tasks tastemakers with choosing the best chocolates in the world.

Going vegan meant TCHO would ditch its award-winning milk chocolate and instead subject its oat milk bars to intense scrutiny alongside dairy competitors. The ICA Americas competition took place earlier this month and attracted 800 participants. So how did TCHO do it?

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Kirzner’s hard work paid off as TCHO chocolates won in two categories: TCHO Choco Latté won Gold in the Milk Chocolate with Topping category and TCHO Toffee Time won Bronze in the Milk Chocolate category. with inclusions or pieces. Beating the dairy milk competitors, TCHO’s vegan chocolates now qualify for next month’s World Finals in Germany, where judges will determine the winners from the 3,000 products entered this year.

“We took a big risk by discontinuing our existing line of chocolate bars and launching six new 100% plant-based bars,” says Mohr. “Our previous chocolate bars had won more than 30 international chocolate awards and were loved by many. But we are chocolatiers first and foremost, so we knew our new bars would be just as amazing, if not better. And we were confident of the positive impact we would have in the world by going 100% plant-based.

TCHO’s award-winning chocolate bars and professional products are available on its website. Its bars are also available at select retailers, including Whole Foods and Safeway in the Northern California area.

TCHO: a modern chocolate factory

Although TCHO is a relatively small company, its journey in eliminating animal products from its formulations sets a precedent for how a modern chocolate brand can operate in a way that respects its farmer partners, promotes ethical practices throughout the supply chain for people and animals, and achieves sustainability goals, while delivering an award-winning product to consumers and professionals without compromise.

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And TCHO’s desire to transform the chocolate industry has been part of its business since the beginning. After realizing that most cocoa farmers had never tasted chocolate made from their beans, TCHO established 10 flavor labs in cocoa growing regions around the world to co-develop the best chocolate directly from The source.

This allows the people who make the raw materials to be part of the chocolate-making process and, in turn, develops a common language around chocolate that helps TCHO create better products more efficiently and sustainably.

TCHO also recently achieved B Corporation status, is 100% organic, and is moving toward being soy-free. And with dairy out of the picture, TCHO can continue to work in its never-ending quest to bring ethical, fair trade and delicious chocolate to the world.

“There’s just a way of designing things to have less impact,” says Kirzner. “Getting away from our dairy milk chocolate line was sort of unthinkable, but there was always a curiosity about how we can do things better, in a more unique way, and with a better impact on the world of different ways.”

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