Marabel Farms, an independent producer and supplier of cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic, has opened its first warehouse and distribution centre in the US.
The new Californian warehouse gives the company control of its entire supply chain – from farm to chocolate maker. By cutting out exporters and middlemen it says it will now be able to ensure reliable supply and control costs.
While it sells to chocolate manufacturers and processors all over the world, the company said that about 80 per cent of the 150 to 250 tonnes of cocoa beans it produces each month are bought in the US.
However, it hopes to increase this volume in the near future and is currently “in a process of planting new trees and purchasing more land.”
Marabel Farms offers fermented Hispaniola and sun-dried Sanchez beans, and has said that demand for the Hispaniola variety, with its stronger flavour, has increased in particular.
A recent report from Packaged Facts on the outlook for US chocolate sales in 2009 said: “It seems that Americans, while scaling down consumerism generally, are permitting themselves indulgence in life’s ‘little’ pleasures. Sales of upscale chocolates are expected to advance at a rate more than fives times that for chocolate overall by 2012.”
Marabel Farms director Vaagn Arakelyan told ConfectioneryNews.com that sales of the company’s cocoa beans have also benefited from a raft of recent studies linking cocoa consumption with lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart disease.
“Demand for Hispaniola beans has increased,” he said. “It provides more flavour and is used for high end chocolates. Due to the popularity of cocoa beans and their health benefits, the health food and super foods market has increased as well.”
Shorter delivery times
Marabel Farms director Vaagn Arakelyan told ConfectioneryNews.com that deliveries of beans from the northern part of the Dominican Republic to the US would always have included beans from Marabel Farms in the past.
“Now we are bringing them directly to chocolate companies and processing plants to ensure consistent quality and timely delivery.”
He added that the new American centre would allow the company to complete deliveries within a week and customers should see lower prices for the bean as well as increased availability.
The company has another distribution centre in the Dominican Republic, in Gaspar Hernandez.
When asked whether the company would continue to use exporters for some of its beans, Arakelyan said: “We are not going to use exporters, because the way it looks, we are hardly going to be able to keep up with current demand, and we want to make sure we have products available at all times both in the US and in the Dominican Republic.”