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Customer Story: Newcomer to the chocolate market raises the bar

nucao blazes a trail by using paper for its primary packaging for chocolate

Chocolate startup nucao is shaking up the chocolate market: Founded in 2016, the company is currently leading the way when it comes to sustainable chocolate. Most recently, the company started using primary packaging made of paper for a total of five of its chocolate product variants, and is in fact the first chocolate company in the market to do so. The Koehler Paper used for this purpose received an extraordinary score in tests by environmental service provider Interseroh.


Leipzig-based chocolate start-up nucao is shaking up the chocolate market. Founded in 2016, the company is currently leading the way when it comes to sustainable chocolate. nucao is the first chocolate company in the market to embrace primary packaging made of paper, and has been using it for a total of five variants of its “nucao fruits” and “nucao nuts” chocolate products since the end of 2022. Koehler NexPlus® Advanced flexible packaging paper has excellent oxygen, mineral oil, and grease barrier properties, which are necessary for applications where there is direct contact with chocolate and nuts. Making this switch enables nucao to meet a key consumer demand for greater sustainability and to lead the way in the chocolate market with how it chooses to package its products.

nucao bets on sustainable products and sustainable packaging

Its mission to make chocolate as sustainable as possible has led the startup to focus not only on a sustainable product, but also on sustainable packaging solutions. The new chocolate-coated fruit and nut products have been packaged in flexible packaging paper from Koehler Paper since the end of 2022, making nucao the first supplier in the chocolate market to use primary packaging that is exclusively made of paper.

Koehler NexPlus® Advanced is Setting New Standards

In early 2021, Koehler Paper launched new secondary packaging on the market with Koehler NexPlus® Seal, which has since been used by numerous brand owners. The latest innovation from Koehler, NexPlus® Advanced, is an evolution of the Koehler Paper’s barrier concept, with the aim of replacing plastic as a packaging material where appropriate. Koehler NexPlus® Advanced’s oxygen, mineral oil, and grease barrier makes it ideal for direct contact with food. It also has outstanding printing properties in gravure, flexographic, and digital printing, which is important when it comes to product communication with the end consumer. Compared to traditional plastic packaging, flexible paper packaging reduces the CO₂ footprint significantly and also provides a positive image transfer to the product and company brand.

The Koehler NexPlus® Advanced packaging used for nucao “Fruits & Nuts” means it is 100% made from paper and can be placed in the paper recycling after use. The recycling process for paper is well established in Europe, which is why multiple reuse of the paper fibers is guaranteed in keeping with the concept of a circular economy.

Brand Owners and Packing Companies Can Switch to Paper Packaging Without Significant Investments

Consumer demand for greater sustainability in consumer products is unequivocal. According to studies and surveys, the majority of consumers in Europe prefer to buy food in packaging that contains little to no plastic. Mathias Schwarz, Sustainable Packaging Engineer at nucao, describes the qualification process that Koehler NexPlus® Advanced went through for use at nucao as follows: “We opted for Koehler NexPlus® Advanced 75 g after extensive tests. In addition to product protection, which was assessed using storage tests with a subsequent sensory analysis, the fact that the paper could be recycled in the paper recycling was an important factor. Another important point for us was its rating of 19 out of a possible 20 points from the environment service provider Interseroh.” More specifically, the Koehler paper scored the aforementioned 19 points out of a possible 20 on a scale that the Augsburg-based bifa environmental institute developed together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging and that is used by Interseroh+ for its “Made for Recycling” seal. According to Interseroh itself, this is an extraordinary score for paper packaging with product protection properties, and in fact is the only time any paper of this kind has scored this high.

Brand-name manufacturers and packing companies looking to change to recyclable paper packaging often do not have to absorb significant investment costs. In many cases, all it takes to optimize, e.g., sealing temperatures or sealing times on existing packaging machinery is adjusting a few parameters. Needless to say, these adjustments are perfectly manageable.

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