ICAM plans a global rollout for its ‘Lost World’ Vanini brand at ISM in 2015. It is already selling in the Italian market and a US launch was pushed forward after a successful test period.
The new Vanini range uses cocoa from Bagua, a province of the Amazonas region in Peru.
Giovanni Agostoni, director of sales at ICAM, said that his company chose Bagua cocoa after researching various origins. “It was something different,” he said. “Normally cocoa from the region has acid notes, mostly for people who only like dark chocolate.Bagua is more rounded. It’s not so aggressive and selective – this permits a larger number of customers.”
Where is cocoa’s ancestral home?
Mexico’s first major civilization the Olmecs were the first cocoa consumers, according to residues found in a small bowl in 1800 BC. Scientists have theorised that the cacao tree could have originated in the tropical Andes foothills or the Amazona and Orinoco regions of Peru. But there is no consensus and some point to the Orinoco Valley of Venezuela or the Amazon basin of Brazil.
Agostoni added that Bagua cocoa worked well with Mediterranean flavors such as salt, rosemary and orange peel. “Nobody puts rosemary in dark chocolate until now,” he said.
ICAM is a bean to bar manufacturer that controls its cocoa sourcing and processes its own beans. The firm buys bagua cocoa directly from APROCRAM, a Peruvian co-operative of 460 members.
Vanini’s ‘Lost World’ chocolate bars come in six flavors including Sicilian sea salt and a bar with roasted cocoa nibs. The bars come in 100 g tablets and 15 g taster-size bars. The range is manufactured at ICAM’s own production facilities near Lake Como in Italy. Vanini was previously a niche brand for pastry shops and was sold only in Italy.
“The line is in some of the best premium food retailers in the US,” said Agostoni, but he refused to name the outlets. “Some of them decided to up the price we suggested – the price can be increased because it is a very original product.”
The Italian family-owned company anticipates strong sales for Vanini in its home market and the US. Agostoni said that the UK and Russia would also take to the brand because Italian food was well-received in these markets.
“It’s a more difficult market in the Arab world but there are some retailers who offer premium food,” he added.
He said that ICAM worked with commercial partners in the region, which made it more difficult to control than in the US, where it has a subsidiary.
ICAM has been present in the US for around 20 years, mostly manufacturing for private label customers. It set up US subsidiary Agostoni Chocolate in 2009 in Los Angeles.