Swiss Researchers Develop Lower-Calorie, Sustainable Chocolate

Researchers at ETH Zurich have pioneered a new approach to chocolate-making that addresses the dual challenges of excessive calories and environmental impact associated with traditional chocolate production.

Traditional Challenges

Modern chocolate products are often criticized for their high sugar and calorie content, contributing to health issues such as obesity. Moreover, cocoa production is under strain due to climate change, which is reducing yields and increasing costs. This has led to deforestation in regions like West Africa as farmers expand cocoa plantations.

Innovative Solution

The team at ETH Zurich has developed a new type of chocolate, known as “whole fruit” chocolate, which uses the entire cocoa fruit rather than just the beans. Traditionally, chocolate is made from cocoa beans mixed with refined sugar. In contrast, this new approach utilizes the pulp surrounding the cocoa beans and the inner rind of the cocoa pod husk to create a cocoa gel.

Benefits of Whole Fruit Chocolate

  1. Reduced Sugar and Calories: The cocoa gel, when mixed with cocoa mass, produces chocolate that is lower in sugar and calories compared to conventional chocolate. This is achieved without compromising on the taste and texture.
  2. Environmental Sustainability: By upcycling the pulp and husk, which are typically discarded in cocoa processing, this innovation reduces waste and the environmental footprint of cocoa cultivation. This could potentially mitigate land use impacts and global warming potential associated with cocoa farming.
  3. Healthier Composition: The resulting chocolate is higher in fiber and lower in saturated fat, making it a healthier option.

Consumer Perception

In a study involving eleven middle-aged women, the whole fruit chocolate was compared favorably to conventional chocolate:

  • It was rated as less sweet despite having the same absolute sugar level, suggesting a different sweetness profile due to the cocoa gel.
  • Tasters noted distinct fruity and dried fruit flavors from the cocoa gel.
  • The texture, snap, and gloss of the whole fruit chocolate were found to be identical to conventional chocolate, ensuring a high-quality end product.

Future Prospects

While the gel was perceived as slightly coarser due to larger particle size, further research aims to refine the formulation to improve sweetness and texture. Lead author Kim Mishra expressed confidence in further refining the product through continued research.


The development of whole fruit chocolate by ETH Zurich represents a significant step forward in the quest for healthier and more sustainable chocolate production. By leveraging the entire cocoa fruit, this innovation not only addresses health concerns associated with traditional chocolate but also contributes to environmental sustainability. As research continues, this approach could potentially revolutionize the chocolate industry by offering consumers a more health-conscious and environmentally friendly choice.