Colorful cacao from Colombia

The company Color Cacao produces handmade chocolates in Colombia. They make chocolate bars, brownies, cookies and other kinds of products from chocolate. This is still an untapped market in Colombia with great opportunities to grow. The ambition of Color Cacao is to buy the cacao directly from small producer farmers, so that a value chain is created which is 100% transparent and fair.

The company

Color Cacao is a company that manufactures chocolate products, including decorated and filled chocolates. It was based on the opportunity to bring the latest chocolate trends in terms of taste and design to Colombia. The manufacturing techniques are handcrafted and based on a careful selection of raw materials in order to achieve an excellent quality final product. This is what makes the company unique in Colombia. At the moment Color Cacao sell their products in souvenir shops and at the airport. They also have corporate customers for which they design specific chocolate products.

The entrepreneur

The owner of the company, Ana Margarita Villegas, went to France 10 years ago to study to be a professional chef. There she gained good knowledge about the cacao market, preparation of cacao, recipes and techniques. She obtained a degree in Culinary Arts at the Institute Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France, one of the world’s most renowned chefs. Ana also studied business administration and she worked for several gastronomic French restaurants. In France, she realized that the Colombian chocolate market wasn’t good enough, because the best quality chocolate is exported in bulk. When she came back to Colombia in 2009, she decided to start her own chocolate company. She felt motivated to start working for a fairer Colombian chocolate market.

The market and business opportunities

The chocolate market in Colombia is ruled by two big companies in terms of prices and quality. Their main aim is to make profit which does not lead to fair prices in general. Overall, they do not value the efforts of producers to increase the quality of the cacao. As most of the Colombian cacao market is thus covered by the big companies, there is a big opportunity for Color Cacao to grow as a medium sized company. Where the big companies focus on massive chocolate production with high contents of transfats and low contents of cacao, Color Cacao focuses on high contents of cacao with good quality. Also the artisanal chocolate market is an untapped market with a potentially high demand in Colombia.

The international market

The company has the ambition to grow in the international market as well. Colombian cacao was declared as ´fine or flavour cacao´ by the International Cocoa Organization, a category that covers only 5% of the beans traded worldwide. Besides, Colombia has a potential of 2 million hectares for cacao crops, an area that would place the country among the world’s top cacao growers. As such, the conditions to explore the international market are very good. Color Cacao exported before so they are well-known with the administrative and legal structure to export. Also Color Cacao went to international business meetings in Canada and the United States. However, the company realizes that they need to strengthen their portfolio to be competitive in the international market. It means that they will need to obtain more certifications (like fair trade, organic production, etc.).

Social impact

Nowadays the company buys its raw materials from the big companies Nacional de Chocolates and Lucker. However, the company is working towards collecting cacao directly from small producer farmers. Therefore the owner started meetings with cacao associations. If Color Cacao will be able to buy the cacao directly from the small producers, farmers will receive a fair price in return. They will be able to improve the quality of their plantations which will lead to improving sales. The quality of the cacao will increase and the fair prices will lead to a sustainable livelihood. For Color Cacao it means that they can directly communicate with the producers of cacao and that they can work on certificates like organic and fair trade. In the end, the company can show the consumer where the cacao comes from: the whole value chain from bean to bar will be transparent.

Co-entrepreneurship

Truvalu.enterprises co-entrepreneurs with Color Cacao to strengthen their commercial and marketing department to target (potential) customers. Truvalu.enterprises also supports to become more prepared for the international market. Furthermore, the company wants to process the cacao themselves for which they need their own machinery. However, at the moment they lack the financial resources. With the investment of Truvalu.enterprises the company will be able to make this happen. Lastly, Truvalu.enterprises and Color Cacao work together on the structure of buying the cacao directly from the small producer farmers. Truvalu.enterprises has a great track record in inclusive business and value chains

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