Foreverland, the first food-tech startup in Italy, to have created Freecao, cocoa-free chocolate, for a delicious future.
Straight from Southern Italy, a new innovative FoodTech start-up has emerged with a bold mission: disrupting the chocolate industry by replacing cocoa with local Mediterranean ingredients that are healthier and more sustainable.
Foreverland has taken on the challenge to introduce cocoa-free chocolate: “Freecao”.
A groundbreaking ingredient for the confectionery sector. Freecao represents an ecological breakthrough, with an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions and a 90% decrease in water consumption compared to cocoa, but is also healthier for consumers. It is made from carob, an underappreciated legume of which Italy is the world’s second-largest producer.
The journey of Foreverland is led by four young innovators: Massimo Sabatini, Giuseppe D’Alessandro, Riccardo Bottiroli, and Massimo Brochetta. After significant experiences in multinational corporations, they joined forces to impact the world positively.
Sabatini left the oil and gas sector when he realized that the food industry was the second-largest contributor to CO2 emissions. This motivated him to seek innovative solutions alongside his friend D’Alessandro, a marketing expert with experience in the chocolate industry.
The team was completed with Bottiroli, a researcher at world-renowned Wageningen University with a background in the food sector, and Brochetta, his friend and collaborator on innovative food product development. From then on, the four shared a joint mission: realize the next generation of chocolate sustainably and healthily without cocoa.
Chocolate, one of the world’s most beloved treats, often conceals a darker side to its production. The cocoa industry is responsible for almost half of deforestation in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the sources of two-thirds of the world’s cocoa.
Additionally, over 1.5 million children are exploited in its harvesting. Furthermore, chocolate ranks as the top water-intensive ingredient, requiring approximately 24,000 litres of water per kilogram, while contributing significantly to carbon emissions, ranking second among CO2 emitters, primarily due to logistics and land exploitation.
Enter carob, a native Mediterranean food source historically undervalued in Italy. Known to some as the “chocolate of the poor”, it was traditionally consumed in times of war and hardship when conventional chocolate was unavailable. Building on this, Foreverland has developed innovative technologies and processes, many of which are patent pending, to apply to this traditional ingredient to mimic the organoleptic properties of cocoa.
Additionally, carob has many known health benefits. It is a nutritional powerhouse that is naturally sweet and packed with vitamins and minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. It is also a resilient plant that is considered to be drought and climate-resistant.
Thanks to carob and other Mediterranean ingredients, Freecao is free from the nine major allergens, including milk and nuts, gluten-free, caffeine-free, and already contains 50% less sugar (compared to traditional milk chocolate) without artificial ingredients.
Foreverland is the sole Italian food-tech startup selected for the Mass Challenge program in Switzerland, one of the world’s leading accelerators focused on sustainability.
With Freecao, Foreverland is demonstrating that sustainability, innovation, and taste can coexist in shaping future food products.