Cacao Pacifico is a Colombian family business dedicated to the manufacture and commercialization of cocoa bean derivatives with international export quality, achieving international food certifications through permanent technical work and a commitment to corporate social responsibility. The owner of this company is Antonio Varela.
The task of this company is to give added value to Colombian cocoa, complying with all international standards with certified quality products recognized in the national and international markets. The company aims to generate development and progress through long-term relationships with their collaborators, producers, suppliers in benefits for the country.
Thanks to Antonio’s Varela experience of more than thirty years in the southwestern Colombian region with communities and small producers in the cultivation of the African Palm, he took the step to promote development towards the cultivation of cocoa. In 2009 the company began operations exporting cocoa beans to Europe from the TUMACO region. The company was a pioneer in the establishment of differential prices for quality for exportation.
The company made an important effort to invest in a new production plant with the highest quality standards, nowadays able to offer a good range of products such as cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and special cocoa coatings.
Antonio’s Varela is a professional in Agricultural Engineering with a master in food engineering in Texas A&M University. Antonio has always been distinguished for its commitment to the small farmers in Tumaco and Nariño. His company was the first to establish a price differential for quality and it was paid directly to the small farmers, improving their quality of life, and encouraging continuous improvement in cocoa production. At one point his company was absorbing up to 30% of the cocoa production in the area and he exported the cocoa beans, marketing the zones and its small farmers.
Since its inception and for its first 9 years, Antonio took a seat in the board of directors of CORDEAGROPAZ Corporation, which is a mixed entity for the development and peace of the region.
Taking into account the family business tradition, Antonio has the dream of making Cacao Pacífico a benchmark in the cocoa value chain and be a player that generates solutions at an international and local level, demonstrating that it is possible to grow together with small producers in long-term relationships.
Since the company was founded, Antonio Varela decided to buy the main raw material (cocoa beans) directly from farmer associations, especially in Santander and Tumaco, with the objective to generate a positive impact on their communities and contribute to their constant growth and continuous improvement.
The company supplies around 45 tons of cocoa beans from Compañia Colombiana de Cacao (CCC), a social company based in Santander, which directly impacts more than 400 small farmers and their families.
In the last year, once Trulab started supporting the company to improve and reconnect with suppliers in Tumaco, Cacao Pacífico made a remarkable impact on local organizations related to the Rutas PDETs project such as: Agrofrontera (42 smallholders), Agrollorente (70 smallholder) and Comcacaot SAS: a community enterprise comprised of rural social organizations from Tumaco (representing 1,500 smallholders from the surrounding villages, 40% of whom are women).
These organizations are selling around 12 tons to Cacao Pacifico which is paying an overprice of 10% above the local market price. This investment had a significant impact on the smallholders, increasing their income and helping to create a more sustainable community.
As mentioned earlier, Antonio is deeply committed to the development of the Tumaco region. He has a great appreciation for the local product and is dedicated to continuing to contribute to the community by buying from small producers.
Throughout our time working with him, Antonio has emphasized that by accessing new and better markets that value the product as much as he does, the company can continue to thrive and support fair prices and differentials for small producers.
“The global cocoa derivatives market is large and expanding, and we have a company that can offer high-quality products, meeting the standards of international customers and that, due to its size, is flexible enough to meet specific requirements of its clients, without leaving aside the principle that the added value that is reflected in the price of the products must be replicated in the conditions of exchange of raw materials with the producers.
We are financing Cacao Pacifico through trade finance to meet export commitments and at the same time we are exploring the possibilities of expanding the list of clients in the US and Europe”.
Andres Jimenez – Truvalu
Cacao Pacifico has a vast experience exporting its products to clients such as Bridge International, Foodlinks, Walter Matter, A&D and ECOM Cocoa Products, guaranteeing their products traceability, quality, fine flavor and standardization.
As is often the case in many markets, as in the Colombian cocoa industry, it is common for a few large companies to dominate the market and prioritize profits above quality or social impact. Unfortunately, this can lead to pricing practices that are unfair, making it difficult for other companies to compete without sacrificing quality. Cacao Pacifico believes in a more equitable approach and is working on a new commercial strategy that will focus on expanding our reach to international markets like North America and Europe. The goal is to establish Cacao Pacifico as a brand known for our exceptional quality, positive social impact, and fair and competitive pricing practices.
In 2020 Cacao Pacifico moved and expanded its processing plant to a new facility, meeting all quality assurance requirements with the latest know-how in the production
process. Cacao Pacifico has the support of a recognized Swiss chocolatier which developed the company’s chocolate coatings formulations and gives permanent advice on the latest manufacturing process and quality controls.
After undergoing a thorough investment and business strengthening process, the company has realized that its commercial strategy should be focused on expanding its presence abroad. By exporting products, they will benefit from higher profit margins than those available in the domestic market. Moreover, exporting coatings or liquor would enable them to pay a fair and differential value to small producers, which would further motivate them to continue developing and improving their quality. In order to achieve this goal, the company is building up a commercial team and is actively seeking out experienced professionals in the industry to help them towards international growth.
On the other hand, Cacao Pacifico is also offering new developments to important local companies interested in finding new suppliers of coating for the development of new products covered with chocolate.
From a strategic perspective, we helped to define that the growth opportunity to activate was the development of substitute coatings. In order to grab this growth opportunity, we contacted an expert in chocolate development as well as an innovation and development mentor to provide support in the plant, carry out a diagnosis of the current machinery and develop the milk substitute coatings and dark substitute coatings formulas.
In operations, we supported the company to improve the calculation of the cost of the products with the ABC costing methodology and then transfer capacity and the tools to the staff. On the other hand, an analysis and evaluation of indicators was made for the control and production monitoring.
In the commercial area, the strategy was defined towards which countries and products the company should offer and emphasis was placed on the need to develop a commercial team, which is why the company is in search of a more commercial profile that develops, strengthens, and realizes international sales.