CO2COA is Mars’ Latest Animal-Free, Planet-Friendly Chocolate Bar

CO2COA is Mars’ Latest Animal-Free, Planet-Friendly Chocolate Bar

Mars recently announced the launch of CO2COA, an animal-free, lactose-free and earth-friendly chocolate bar, in the US. Partnering with Perfect Day to swap regular milk for animal-free dairy, CO2COA promises to deliver the same taste and texture of traditional chocolate, but without the downsides of factory farming cattle.

Known for its animal-free dairy ingredient, Perfect Day has created a fermentation approach that cultivates microflora from whey protein, which the company claims is the first of its kind. Perfect Day said its dairy-free milk is identical to traditional milk and has fueled new product launches in milk, cake mixes, confectionery, cream cheese and protein powders. 

Now, Mars is tapping into the growing demand for animal-free chocolate. While most partnerships with Perfect Day are with small startups, consumer-packaged goods (CPG) giants are also paying attention to animal proteins made without animals. CO2COA is considered vegan-friendly since it doesn’t contain ingredients from animals, but it is also lactose- and cholesterol-free.

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As for the name, CO2COA is meant to invoke the fact that Mars reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (CO2) when sourcing ingredients. It also draws attention to the fact that CO2COA uses Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa and animal-free dairy protein, while wrapped in paper-based packaging. The product is part of Mars’ goal of achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050. 

Mars claims the chocolate “maintains the silky-smooth taste consumers expect while leaning into the flexitarian dietary trends today’s conscious consumers are embracing,” according to a press release. The bars will be available to order through CO2COA’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) website to gain feedback from consumers, which it will use to inform a potential product line or retail expansion.

CO2COA is not Mars’ first venture into vegan chocolate. In 2019, the company released its first vegan milk chocolate bar in the UK under the Galaxy brand. The line relies on hazelnut paste and rice syrup in place of dairy milk for creaminess. CO2COA, which took approximately one year to develop, brings something entirely new to Mars’ product line, with the potential for using Perfect Day’s protein in a variety of ways.

The new product launch comes as the vegan chocolate market is valued at $532.7 million and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5 percent between 2022 to 2032. The report from Transparency Market Research attributes the demand for vegan chocolate to “the growth in number of animal welfare organizations, increase in vegan population and surge in awareness about benefits of plant-based food products.”

While Mars is launching an entirely new product with CO2COA, other global players in the market are launching, or have already launched, vegan versions of their most popular chocolates. Mondelez, for example, launched a vegan version of its beloved Cadbury Dairy Milk brand in 2021. Nestlé also rolled out a vegan version of its iconic KitKat chocolate bar last year. This strategy allows companies to enjoy the brand loyalty of customers across the globe and result in higher sales of such products.

Though Mars will face steep competition from both multinational corporations and startups alike, it hopes to grab a fraction of the valuable vegan chocolate market going forward.