Cacao liquor processing from micro lots
San Jose, June 9th (CSF).- Norandino cooperative farmers will be the first in Latin America to offer processing services for the bean to bar micro lot cacao industry.
The cocoa liquor processing plant, located in Norandino's agro-industrial complex in Piura, Peru, has batch technology and is designed to process up to 500 kilos of cocoa liquor per hour with an annual capacity of 4 thousand tons. With the completion of the new plant, the visionary cooperative is making its way in the world of single origin chocolate and shows us once again that it is possible to create added value.
It took six years to realize the dream that began in 2011 with a series of tours and technical internships to Europe and visits to commercial partners exploring the relevance of the project and identifying the appropriate technology. Initially they considered a small artisan type plant, but over time, constant exchange and feedback inspired Norandino to envision a facility that met the highest standards of quality in the bean to bar chocolate industry in order to ensure the physical, organoleptic and microbiological quality of the liquor. "We realized that we were not playing around, and insisted that it be a facility that processes micro lot cacao from various single origin farmers to guarantee complete traceability from the bean to the bar for our importers while preserving the main flavors and subtleties of cacao," recalls the project manager of Norandino Fernando Reyes Córdova.
We have a market
But what was the motivation of the Norandino farmers to dive headlong into the chocolate industry? According to Fernando Córdova, Norandino took the plunge because it was necessary to make the supply chain transparent. A transformation is currently taking place in Europe, with mega facilities that process thousands of tons per hour, per day. However, they are unable to ensure traceability to the small bean to bar chocolate industry that needs a competitive supply of quality liquor processed at its point of origin.
The idea of a complete traceability plant, as Reyes calls it, was welcomed by all of Norandino's commercial allies. But it was the Amsterdamians from Chocolat Makers who were the first to propse the project to a Dutch government fund. Thereby launching what would be the most ambitious project undertaken by Norandino to date.
"The project consists of a 6.7 million dollar plant co-financed with funds from Peruvian institutions. However, the most important part of this project is that we have a strong social and productive base as well as the experience of managing other factories such as panela and coffee. Furthermore, we have a market and strategic allies that will support this project," says Reyes Cordova.
With the Norandino plant, he hopes to take control of the value chain, develop the cacao liquor market, generate work in ural areas and pay a better price for cacao to the farming families. Although there are similar experiences with organized producers in Latin America, Norandino would be the first processing plant for niche, or extra premium cacao, making it a benchmark in the sphere of Latin American agricultural cooperatives.
The target market of Norandino's liquor will be its current customers whom would also consider bringing fine cacao from Ecuador, Colombia and other Central American producers to be processed in Peru.
The plant will be ready by mid-September of this year, but will not be at full capacity until 2019. "We believe that the staff will need approximately three months training in order to develop toasting and sensory profiles and expertise within the team," said Reyes.
An interesting project for the growing bean to bar industry which guarantees a virtuous product from small scale agriculture, a clear origin, organoleptic quality, carbon footprint reduction and added value at the point of origin.
translated by Jesse Trace