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Center of Cocoa and Chocolate Competences

ZHAW has been researching on cocoa and chocolate for decades. Our competences, located in various research groups in four different institutes, cover the entire supply chain from the harvest and post-harvest processing of cocoa beans to the development of novel manufacturing processes for chocolate. In the field of cultivation, we collaborate with research institutes from the agricultural sector.

Our competences along the cocoa value chain


Agronomic factors (with partners)
We investigate the aspects related to cultivation in close collaboration with experts in the industry and science. Furthermore, we are open to future field experiments in this field. Please feel free to contact us.

Post-Harvest Processing

Post-harvest monitoring and optimization
The Food Biotechnology Research Group evaluates and monitors relevant process parameters over time, as well as, the modulation and optimization of fermentation and drying aiming at enhanced and reproducible quality.

Post-Harvest Processing & Chocolate Processing

Flavour research & chemical characterization
The Food Chemistry Research Group is decoding flavor properties, with an emphasis on aroma, of cocoa and chocolate at the molecular level. To understand the influence of process technology and post-harvest treatment or the influence of origin and variety on the composition of cocoa flavour-active compounds, methods are used which combine instrumental analysis and human sensory perception. In addition, further value-adding constituents are analysed along the entire cocoa value chain. The research work is implemented with international and national partners from industry and science.   
Sensory analysis and consumer sciences
The Research Group Food Perception is dealing with the identification, quantification and monitoring of sensory characteristics of cocoa and chocolate products. Using sensory analytical methods, detailed product characterizations are carried out and it is investigated how different raw materials and process parameters within the cocoa and chocolate value network influence the sensory quality of corresponding products. At the end-product level, it is investigated how different sensory product characteristics influence individual preferences and different consumer needs are evaluated.
Development of innovative processes and products
Optimization of cocoa bean processing, development of innovative products with focus on high cocoa content and research on the preservation and extraction of bioactive compounds in cocoa.

Throughout the entire cocoa value chain

Analysis of regulative and normative requirements
Research, publications, teaching and organization of conferences in Swiss and European food law as well as  incorporation of requirements at international level, e.g. ISO, into scientific activities.
Social analysis
Social impact analysis of cocoa cultivation & analysis of site suitability and of changes due to climate change (CONSUS).
Life cycle assessment
Quantification of resource consumption, climate impact, environmental footprint, and other environmental indicators along the full value chain, from cradle to grave.
Data management and visualization
Mapping and analysing connected data as well as visualization of complex data and intuitive user interfaces.
Centre for biochemical engineering and cell cultivation technique


Cocoa in Numbers

Generating a cocoa database as a tool for more transparency along the cocoa value chain.

⇒ Find out more on the project


Optimization of cocoa post harvesting

From traditional techniques to functional microbial cultures for cocoa fermentation.

⇒ Find out more on the project

Aroma Kit Cocoa

An olfactory library for cocoa and chocolate.

⇒ Find out more on the project

Development of a new process

A novel technology approach for cocoa bean processing.

⇒ Find out more on the project

Chocolate from cocoa

Production of a sustainable plant cell based chocolate.

⇒ Find out more on the project

An interdisciplinary research approach

ILGI – Institute of Food and Beverage Innovation

IUNR – Institute of Natural Resources Sciences

ICLS – Institute of Computational Life Science

ICBT – Institute of Chemistry and Biotechnology

Core team