The Spanish chocolate firm said this week that it has acquired "the first harvest" of cocoa produced by the co-operatives taking part in a restructuring programme.
Natra, with a volume of 117,000 tons of cocoa and chocolate products a year, claimed the new source taps into the growing trend for 'single varietal' cocoa. A grass roots trend that is picking up in pace as chocolate aficionados increasingly associate taste, texture and aroma to a specific cocoa terroir.
Further, Natra's decision to source from the Colombian co-operative embraces an increasing tendency from chocolate players, to harness their key ingredient, cocoa, from sustainable sources.
"We will incorporate this raw material as cocoa of origin, in response to the taste of the international consumer for chocolate products elaborated with cocoa proceeding from the same region," said the firm that produces about 175 different brands in a private and own label mix.
The Colombian cocoa, "considered of high quality due to its cleanliness and refined aroma," said Natra, joins other 'varietals' in the company's portfolio that include Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
According to a Natra spokesperson the idea is to purchase more tonnage from the Colombian co-operative in the future: "It always depends on the general market conditions ," she told ConfectioneryNews.com.
Under the aegis of the US' International Development agency Usaid and the Colombian government co-operatives in the country have been encouraged to "restructure" their cultivation, moving from harvesting the illegal form of coca to cultivating quality cocoa for international markets.
Natra, which claims to be the biggest cocoa grinder in Spain, will source the Colombian cocoa tonnage from co-operatives Aprocasur, Cortipaz and Asoprolan.
"Nearly 1,100 peasants that have been working throughout the last few years to return 4,500 hectares of cultivation of coca into legal cultivation of cocoa," commented the Valencian firm.