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The sweet taste of success

A Bolivian cacao producer is reaping the benefits of its participation in CBI’s Food Ingredients Export Coaching Programme (ECP) in Latin America. It now exports both raw cacao and semi-finished chocolate products to clients in Europe and sells chocolate, the finished product, in Bolivia.

Local benefits

Sumar, A family owned and managed company in the region of Baure, Bolivia, was one of 15 Bolivian companies participating in CBI’s Food Ingredients ECP, which was given in Boliv ia, Peru and Colombia and concluded in mid-2015. According to CBI consultant, Freek-Jan Koekoek, Sumar benefits its environment by using local inhabitants to harvest wild cacao beans from trees in the Amazonian Rainforest.

Important objective

Helping these people to generate income has always been an important consideration for Sumar, informs Koekoek. The company was also keen to add value to its cacao beans by processing them into semi-finished products so that the locals would benefit even more. “While an important objective of Sumar’s before starting the ECP, it’s a very difficult one to realise. European companies prefer to receive raw beans rather than semi-finished cocoa mass or finished chocolate products,” he says.

Encouragement and support

During the ECP, CBI provided encouragement and the means. The means included trade fair participations, with a specialised event, and sharing knowledge about how to successfully export to Europe. Sumar also received technical assistance in chocolate manufacturing from PUM, a network of retired Dutch managers and specialists who often assist CBI in implementing its ECPs.

New clients

Thanks to Sumar’s determination and the support of the ECP, the company now exports semi-finished products, such as roasted cacao nibs and cacao liquor, to a new Danish client. Furthermore, following strong insistence from this client, it also exports raw cacao (cocoa beans). Another new client, in Switzerland, is also buying cocoa beans, after pursuing the company for over a year for its exclusive organic and wild cocoa beans. Sumar now produces chocolate for the Bolivian market, where there is a demand for the final product.

Added value

“Some of our products now have added value, which was indeed one of our main exporting goals,” says Sumar Director Marcela Baldiviezo. “The work done by CBI, with its ECP, was truly magnificent. It has helped our company overcome many barriers by showing us how to interact with our customers and improve the quality of our products. From now on we can export products with added value, not only cacao beans but also cacao liquor, and different types of chocolate bars and chocolate coatings too. Our thanks go out Freek-Jan Koekoek, Eva Smulders and all the CBI team!” she adds.

Huge step forward

Eva Smulders, the CBI programme manager responsible for the ECP, says that in 2016 the company will participate in several European trade shows, including Chocoa in (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Biofach (Nurnberg, Germany) and Salon du Chocolat (Milan, Italy). “And the fact that Sumar is financing its own representation in these shows is a huge step forward and demonstrates the company’s increasing independence,” she concludes.