From farmers to processors  

San Jose, Nov 6th (CSF). - More than ten years ago, Norandino took a leap of faith when they decided to diversify their production with cacao and packaged whole cane sugar for international markets. Once again, they are innovating, but this time they do it in style, building a cacao paste processing plant.

To some, it's good business sense. For others, it’s knowing when to strike while the iron is hot. Or, simply put, the result of hard work and constant innovation. Whatever the reason, yet again, the farmers of Norandino in Peru move forward as a model of a rural business association that is worth imitating.

The processing plant will produce cacao paste for making chocolates and will have a capacity of up to 3,000t. The processing plant is expected to be operating by the end of July 2018.

"It all started with the idea of doing something small, a small-scale processing plant. But, the idea continued to change and grow. Several clients encouraged us, saying that they would buy cacao liquor from us if we built the plant," remembers Eduardo Espinoza, a farmer, specialist in cacao and head of the cacao warehouse.

It is worth mentioning that some of the Norandino partners, such as Alce Nero in Italy, Original Beans in the Netherlands or Ethiquable in France process cocoa in Switzerland, a situation which certainly raises the manufacturing costs of the importers, but that creates a new market niche for Norandino.

From farmer to processor 

“The idea came about in relations between Norandino and their importers,” said Eduardo. “They imagined aloud the possibility of buying the cacao liquor from Norandino and saving the high cost of production in Switzerland or France.”

The cacao expert also clarified, "it stems from the growing need among great chocolate makers to ensure the quality and traceability of their chocolates."

"We know of customers who buy small quantities, 100t for example, which they send to be processed in very large plants where only between 15% or 20% of the cacao that was processed remains," explains Eduardo, hinting that the chocolatiers buy good quality cacao, but that its quality is lost when mixed with the remains from batches of other previously processed cacao which is left on the machine after each process. This risks the quality and traceability demanded by organic and fair trade certifications.

Investment and processing capacity

In any case, the idea that the farmers had to build a small plant, turned into a plant with higher profitability and a capacity of 1400 with projections of up to 3,000.

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The construction of the plant was announced in 2016 by Norandino members with a cost of more than $ 3.5 million. A figure which continued to rise, up to about 7 million dollars. "The idea of building the plant is based on the certainty that added value is the best way for the cooperative to be profitable and improve the incomes of the farmers," pointed out in several occasions to the press by Santiago Paz Lopez the former Sales Manager of Norandino, and Director of Cooperativas Sin Fronteras. 

Construction began last September and is expected to be built by January 2018. The machinery is slated to arrive in February. 

The construction of Norandino´s cacao liquor processing plant for the manufacture and sale of chocolates for local and international markets is part of a joint venture project with a long-standing customer in the Netherlands, Dutch Cooperation, the Peruvian bank and the Norandino farmers.

"We received a non-refundable grant, along with a leasing payment agreement from the Peruvian bank. They build as we pay," said Espinoza.

"This is how things are with Norandino´s farmers. They never stop. Also, as a preamble to the installation of the processing plant, they've launched in the local market, 4,000 bars (80grms) of bean to bar quality chocolate, with bars of 70% and 50% cacao, of Blanco (White) and (Gran Blanco) Great White varieties." 

Concerning Norandino's new business in the local chocolate market, Espinoza said that it is a small-scale production, in which they rent the machinery with the intention of fostering local and regional consumption. He said that chocolates are processed in a mini processing plant with the capacity of 150 kg/batch, so there is no risk in loss of quality or traceability.

n.l 06.11.17

translated by Jesse Trace