The company’s customers are mainly in the bakery, ice cream, confectionery manufacturing and food service industries.
“The chocolate was completely produced in Vietnam with fully fermented Vietnamese cocoa beans. We have controlled the process from the fermentation performed in our own collection station to the conching of the couverture,” Gricha Safarian, president and founder of the group told ConfectioneryNews.com.
Made with a 70 per cent total cocoa recipe, the product has, according to the company “a unique fruity and spicy taste, with citrus and cinnamon notes”.
The quality of the beans are approved by the company's own CocoTrace label.
Safarian said the availability of good quality Vietnamese beans is still very limited, which is the reason why the first batch of single origin couverture is vintaged.
“However, we are investing heavily in post harvest capacity and we hope to see the Vietnamese beans become available in acceptable quality,” he said.
With production facilities in Vietnam, Belgium and Japan, Grand-Place is an independent Belgian chocolate manufacturer that produces chocolate for B2B industries.
Vietnam is new to the world of cocoa production. After numerous setbacks, commercial cocoa production did not fully kick off in the country until the Vietnamese government launched an ambitious program in 2004 with a target to initially have 100.000 hectare (ha) planted in 2020.
The hike in the price of cocoa beans in recent years has offered local farmers an incentive to grow the plant.
From 2005 to 2010, the plantation surface in the southern part of the country rose from 1.218 ha in 2004 to 16.725 ha in 2010, with 30.000 farmers involved.
“Cocoa in Vietnam is still in the early stages. Production remains small as it takes four years for the trees to start producing. However, all sectors are in strong development (nursery, export companies and processing factories are already established or will soon be established) and we can see a promising future for this crop in Vietnam,” said Grand-Place.
Investment in Vietnam
Grand-Place signed an agreement in November last year with local authorities in the Ben Tre Province to build a cocoa bean processing factory, the construction of which is set to begin this year. In addition, the Belgian group said it has plans to expand its chocolate production activity in Vietnam by building a new chocolate factory in Hanoi in 2011.
Last year the company reported domestic sales of approximately 4000mt in Asia, including Japan and South Korea, and approximately 2000mt in Vietnam.