“ANY1 CHOCO” brand development interview(vol.2)

“ANY1 CHOCO” is a chocolate brand that uses dairy-free, plant-based, and gluten-free ingredients and NHP’s hydrolysis technology. To commemorate the brand’s launch and the opening of the flagship store in Singapore, we spoke to the core members involved in the project about their thoughts.

Interviewer: Shuzo Okabe

Takayuki Dombo
Technical Direction

During his 20 years at Meiji Confectionery, Takayuki worked on developing chocolates, gummies, and gum. Later, he served as the director and head of research at a major flavor manufacturer for 17 years, proposing products to confectionery manufacturers. He founded Takara Co., Ltd. in 2022 and has been advising numerous companies as a food development consultant. He currently serves as an advisor to NHP Corporation, primarily leading the development of plant-based chocolates.

S: Please tell us how you first got involved with NHP.

D: Around 2020, I was introduced to Mr. Kumazawa, the representative of NHP. He showed me the hydrolysates made using NHP’s technology. I was searching for plant-based milk ingredients then, so the hydrolysates of white kidney beans and non-glutinous rice piqued my interest. I proposed using them to make milk chocolate, and I still vividly remember how surprised they were.

S: So, the plant-based milk chocolate at NHP started there. Was there a specific moment that led you to start thinking this way?

D: I had an incident during a meal with my relatives. After the meal, we were considering dessert options when someone suggested that we sit dessert out because my nephew had allergies. I will always remember that exchange. Over time, I found out he couldn’t eat most Western sweets, including chocolate. Having worked in the confectionery industry for so long, I was motivated to do something about it.

S: I see. The project’s concept, “For all, with all,” embodies the desire to change such experiences for people.

D: I remember impulsively telling my nephew, “Uncle will make something you can eat.” It was baseless, but I couldn’t help myself.

S: There will be no backing down after that (laughs). How do you feel seeing the brand take shape?

D: I’m overwhelmed. I just sent a message to my nephew saying, “This was possible because of you.” As a technician, I can propose ideas on how things should be, but that’s as far as it goes. NHP and Mr. Kumazawa were committed to cultivating the idea, for which I’m grateful.

S: What are your hopes for the brand moving forward?

D: This project is just at the starting line. Having worked in large corporations in the past, I can tell that this is different – we’re doing something that everyone is excited by. This excitement is possible because we’re a startup.

S: There’s a definitive difference between wanting to do something and actually doing it.

D: It is gratifying to see a team come together and make such quick progress. What started as a small idea is now everyone’s dream. I’m eager to see how far we can go. It would be incredible to begin the project in multicultural Singapore and eventually bring it back to Japan.

Shuzo Okabe
Brand Strategy, Creative Direction

Head of upsetters architects, which specializes in environmental and strategic design. Representative of LED Enterprise focused on brand development. Winner of the JCD Design Award Gold Prize, Good Design Award, and iF Design Award, amongst other domestic and international awards. Currently serving as the CCO (Chief Creative Officer) of NHP Corporation, leading all creative aspects.