Sweet beginnings for African and Caribbean chocolatiers at Salon du Chocolat in Paris
At an international trade fair where even the clothes are made of chocolate, how do small African and Caribbean chocolatiers and cocoa producers stand out from the crowd?
The opportunity to present alongside some of the world’s largest chocolate producers is the chance that many of these small and medium-sized companies have needed to make the leap from local production to global markets.
Six amazing African and Caribbean companies joined nearly 120 exhibitors in Paris to showcase their delicious creations and innovative designs at the Salon du Chocolat from October 28 to November 1. Over 60,000 visitors attended the fair.
For each of the six companies, sponsored by the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) United Kingdom Trade Partnerships (UKTP) Programme – a UKaid funded programme–the goals of participating at the Salon du Chocolat were kept simple: raise brand awareness, launch new chocolate products to the market, and find new business partners.
They have achieved so much more.
Each of these companies pride themselves on being sustainable, traceable and accountable to their local communities–as well as the planet.
As they reflect on being under the spotlight of the international trade fair, here’s a taste of what the African and Caribbean producers brought to the show.
Fairafric is a German-Ghanaian social business that wants to revolutionise the chocolate world. As a cocoa tree to chocolate bar business, they want to keep as much of the value-adding business in Africa as possible. That creates opportunities both inside and outside the agriculture sector, bringing new income and jobs throughout Ghana. In addition to the great taste, every purchase of a Fairafric chocolate leads to higher incomes, better access to education and health care. These chocolates are not only delicious, but they can also change the world.
For the Definite Chocolate company from Dominican Republic, the Salon du Chocolat has been an opportunity to meet French businesses and expand their retail presence in France. With tariff free, and quota free access to the UK and European markets, companies such as Definite Chocolate are benefiting from the UKTP Programme’s support with outreach and international engagement.
Likkle More Chocolate is a bean-to-bar atelier based in sunny Kingston, Jamaica. The Caribbean soil gives the chocolate a unique flavour and reminds everyone that the cocoa plant was first discovered 4000 years ago in Mesoamerica. The creativity of designs and attention to detail has been recognised with multiple company awards.
Elsewhere in Jamaica, the Pure Chocolate company was born from a desire to give back to local communities through the development of its premium quality fine-flavoured cocoa. By creating meaningful and lasting partnerships with farmers, producers and artists, the company is committed to improving the lives of those they work with. Company spokesperson, Wouter Tjeertes, said, “being able to showcase and share our passion and products at the Salon Du Chocolat is an opportunity that has already garnered connections we would have never been able to make setting us up into a great position for the future”.
In the Dominican Republic, one chocolate company has been producing cacao since 1905. The Rizek family farms, located in the heart of the Cibao region, are well known for the excellence of their genetic material and innovative post-harvest processes. Thanks to this fine aromatic cacao, the company has great pride in presenting a range of organic chocolates called Kahkow™, produced in limited quantities to the world.
And finally, from the volcanic soils of Mount Cameroon, Fire Mountain is a company which believes that the ethics and the enjoyment of chocolate go hand in hand. The farmers want to share the rewards of their hard work, and the community shares the benefits that the industry provides to the people of Cameroon.
For the six African and Caribbean companies at Salon du Chocolat, their participation produced immediate results. The companies generated nearly EUR 20,000 in chocolate bars sold, secured transactions amounting to USD 200,000 in semi-finished product (cocoa liquor) and established more than 100 business contacts among distributers and retailers.
Two companies—Definite Chocolate from Dominican Republic and Pure Chocolate from Jamaica—succeeded in getting their products on the shelves of Paris-based shops during the fair.
The Salon was a showcase of chocolate entrepreneurs—and the current generation of African and Caribbean chocolate innovators are demonstrating that success can come from sweet beginnings.