Nestlé has opened a $16m chocolate molding and packaging line that will use fine flavor Arriba cocoa beans.
The plant in Guayaquil will supply the domestic and export markets.
“This new facility will optimize the production of Ecuadorian chocolate, increase exports across the continent and generate new jobs,” said Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke.
“We are committed to increasing our presence in the country, developing the local workforce and promoting Ecuador’s domestic output. I am proud to say that Nestlé Ecuador is the biggest buyer and exporter of Ecuadorian cocoa.”
Nestlé said it had purchased an Italian-made machine to produce and package premium boxed chocolates.
Ecuador is Latin America’s second largest cocoa-producing nation behind Brazil and the seventh largest global producer.
The country is renowned for its fine flavor Arriba cocoa beans that give a floral or fruity flavor.
Last year, R&D chiefs from ADM Cocoa and Cargill agreed that cocoa beans of Ecuadorian origin were the best tasting for chocolate.
Chocolate confectionery retail value sales in Ecuador grew 6.5% in 2013 to $86.5m, according to Euromonitor International. The research organization forecasts that the market will reach $107.2m in 2018.
Nestlé is the market leader in the country with a 24.1% share, followed by Argentinean firm Arcor on 14.9% and local firm Universal Sweet Industries on 13.7%
Mars, Hershey and Ferrero also have a presence, but Mondelēz International is not among the top 10 players.