Having chocolate is an indulgence for adults and a treat for kids; but what if there was a way to enjoy chocolate guilt-free? We chatted to Maya, founder of PlayInChoc, to see how she’s created a product that’s delicious, full of USPs, and above all, a pioneer in sustainability.
So where did it all start?
I’ve always always been a chocoholic, but when I had kids and (inevitably) they ended up as mini chocoholics too, it really opened my eyes as to what we were eating. I was conscious of the nasty health effects of refined sugar, and made the decision to find a way my family could still enjoy chocolate and sweet things, but in a healthy and sustainable way. Like the beginning of most start-up fairytales, our story began in my kitchen, where I began to experiment, self-educate, and develop product at home. I didn’t set out a plan, I just wanted to do something fun with my kids (and for me!), but it quickly became apparent that there was a market for my chocolate.
What makes your chocolate stand out?
We make everything from scratch with just three ingredients: cacao, coconut, and vanilla. Sugar-wise, that leaves our chocolate with half the sugar of mainstream chocolate, and without any of the nasties. Our chocolate is free from gluten, soy, nuts, dairy, sesame...I wanted to make a product which was free from common allergens, so that nobody was left out. I think, though, that what makes it stand out so much is just how great it tastes compared to the corporate chocolates — when you could have something better for you, better for the environment, and tastes better, there’s really no competition! When we won the Food Innovation Awards in 2019, it really made me see that sustainable and healthy sweet treats are truly going to take over the market, and I’m so excited to be a part of that.
Of course, we can’t talk about PlayInChoc without talking about your packaging! What’s the story behind that?
As a mum, I think you really start to notice just how many plastic waste products are given to your kids. Take a kinder egg; it’s got too much sugar and too much plastic. Kid’s party bags have the same problem. When it came to packaging, then, I was really conscious that I wanted to make something which put the environment first. Our packaging is a compostable shell, which you can compost at home, and it’ll dissolve completely in three months. We’re plastic free, too!
However, by far one of our most unique things about our packaging are the ‘build-your-own’ animals inside. Our commitment to sustainability and helping the environment isn’t just about ensuring that our products don’t harm the Earth, it’s about educating the future generations to keep that going. That’s why we released our ‘endangered animals’ series; you can build your own little animals, from giraffes to monkeys, and the collectible information card inside will tell you some information about that endangered species. It’s a really fun way to collaborate both having fun and learning, and it’s definitely the USP I’m most proud of.
So is PlayInChoc just for kids?
We’re not just for kids, and we’re not just for adults — our boxes of chocolates for adults come in an exact portion size, so they’re the perfect pick me up. One of our hardest aspects has been branching out into the grown-up market, but I think our best advocates are people who simply taste some and want more! I love the fact we’ve created something for both audiences, because it blurs that identity and unifies everyone together under one love — chocolate!
How have you found being a mum has shaped your brand ethos?
It’s been part of every step of the process — PlayInChoc wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my kids! It’s been a huge factor, because I want to make a product where I know I’m not harming the world my children will one day live in, and to be able to provide that positive role-model for them is so fundamental to me. I also love the fact we’re all about inclusivity and working together, and every one of my proudest moments regarding my brand comes from seeing my kids share those values with others.
It was great to be able to talk to Maya; here at Forward Fooding, we’re proud to work with start-ups so invested in sustainability, and want to foster that community of companies pioneering the way towards a more environmental future. We’re seeing it more and more in the food world, such as in Sainsbury’s collaboration with a number of selected plant-based companies in their meat-free butcher. If you’d like to see what connections Forward Fooding could offer your start-up, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also add your company to our FMCG trends section on our platform to get free visibility within our corporate and investors’ network here.
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