LIFULL, Tokyo / LIFULL / 2022

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Why is this work relevant for PR?

ECOLATE is an innovative brand. It is innovative in the way of how it converted wasted parts of cacao trees, which are usually discarded in the process of producing cacao, into new sustainable food. LIFULL built an ecosystem which remedied the poverty of cacao farmers. We can now take part in solving the issue through a simple and basic act in our lives, which is “eating”. The more people buy ECOLATE, the more cacao waste is consumed, which becomes the sustainable solution of providing financial income to the farmers who need help.


“Cacao Farms in Poverty”

Demand for chocolate has significantly grown and expanded the global market size by 35% over the past decade. The COVID-19 pandemic further has increased the demand.

On the other hand, cacao, the material for chocolate, has been marking its lowest price. Attempts to supply low-priced cacao at large volume have resulted in cutting labor wages of cacao farmers, putting them in serious poverty.

As demand surged, the need for expanded production areas arose, which triggered illegal logging, farmland conversion and tropical deforestation, and other social issues such as child labor. The cacao-producing environment is now in facing serious challenges and there is a potential risk of chocolate shortage in 30 years. In order to solve the situation, LIFULL introduced a project to tackle the root cause; the poverty of cacao farmers.

Describe the creative idea

Instead of using common ingredient of chocolate, cacao mass and cocoa butter, ECOLATE uses cacao bean shells, branches and leaves which are usually discarded without being consumed. We worked with cacao producers, researchers and chefs and co-developed a sustainable ecosystem to support production and online sales of the new chocolate. This sales have provided financial help to the cacao farms.

Describe the PR strategy

We communicated this project to a targeted audience who is the people that are willing to take actions of social contributions in their lifestyles. We attracted their attention by producing key visuals with designs featuring cacao waste material and designed each product to represent the characteristics of chocolate. We ensured our communication, through every touch-point, to convey the uniqueness of ECOLATE being made of waste cacao, highlighting the difference from other regular chocolate products. We also promoted the product in a narrative of how this new chocolate solved the poverty of farms and other related challenges in the cacao society. Since its market launch in April 2021, ECOLATE has garnered attention of the audience and received extensive publicity through various media inside and outside of Japan.

Describe the PR execution

“ECOLATE” was introduced to the market in April 2021. The project has been covered in various media both at home and abroad, contributing to raising social awareness of the poverty of cacao farmers. It is notable that the types of media featuring the news is not limited to those specialized in environmental assistance but ranges across culturally oriented publishers including VOGUE. We created a completely new culture of eating wasted cacao by giving it a new value.

The newness of the idea is how we built a sustainable framework to enable participation in solving challenges surrounding cacao production through a very simple practice of “eating” which is a basic action in everyday life.

List the results

ECOLATE has been constantly sold out at the online store since its market introduction. It has earned a lot of coverage in major publicity both at home and abroad. The novelty of the idea is how LIFULL created an ecosystem for people to actively participate in preserving the environment through a very simple act of “eating.” The project has been featured in over 140 media outlets so far, generating PR value worth of USD 1.3 million.

LIFULL will continuously address the poverty of the farmers and even the problem beyond, which is a Chocolate Crisis, by supporting the ecosystem and circulation of the community through the following activities:

Alliance with cacao farms inside and outside of Indonesia to extend use cases of waste-cacao ingredient

Product development with major chocolate companies

Food events with recommendations of pairing waste-cacao dishes with drinks

Cooking classes to teach how to make waste-cacao recipes

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