Amazona Chocolate’s El Shunte 74% and Valle del Chanka 72% won bronze in the Best Dark Chocolate Bean-to-Bar under 80% category at the Academy of Chocolate Awards at London’s Fortnum & Mason in April.
Lourdes Lares, general manager of Amazona Chocolate, told ConfectioneryNews she was happy to receive such a prestigious award in a place of high recognition.
“We were the first chocolate company to win a prize like this [from Peru],” she said. “I think we are the first one with this high quality chocolate in the country.”
A renewed interest
The Peruvian chocolate market is certainly on its way up.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service reported a 5% increase from 2013 to 2014 to 70,000 tonnes of chocolate.
Cocoa bean exports saw an 18% increase in 2014, reaching 37,000 tonnes.
As a country, Peru seems to have a renewed interest in high-quality chocolate; Amazona is taking full advantage.
Lares said the company is selling their chocolates across Lima at organic farmers markets and top restaurants, as well as to gourmet businesses for pastries and other treats.
“Basically, most of our market in Lima is [top restaurants],” Lares said. “They’re looking for something different from what’s in most markets … There are more and more people who love this dark chocolate.”
Amazona prides itself in being a beacon of regional chocolate, consistently sourcing local ingredients to ensure the desired flavors come across each time.
The company utilizes older machines, as opposed to newer machines other Peruvian manufacturers tend to use, which she credits as one of Amazona’s lynchpins of success.
“We find that it is better for our chocolate to make it in these machines,” Lares said. “[The process] adds a lot in the flavor and that is very important.”
The interest in high-quality chocolate has sparked a growth in Amazona, as the company sells seven MT of chocolate in various forms each year, bringing in $20,000 per month. Lares said the company goal is to expand to 10-15 tonnes within the next year.
This may be possible if the company grows its exports as Lares wants. Currently, Amazona sells their chocolates across Peru, with minimal shipments to Canada, Chile and Italy. However, she hopes to be able to start exporting their chocolate to the US and Germany in the near future.
An educational process
Customers are starting to come back to farmers markets they visit each weekend to get different bars they favor, Lares said. Each type of chocolate has a different flavor profile, such as honey and chocolate.
However, it’s about more than just loving the flavors; Lares wants to ensure people of Lima and the world learn more about Peruvian chocolate and cocoa. The company includes information about the cocoa clusters used, as well as flavor profiles and organic certification on its packaging.
“There is a lot to learn, there is a lot to teach the people,” Lares said. “We talk about the origin of the source, not only the farmers, but also the variety [of the cocoa]. We use flavor wheels. That’s a way we find to teach the people who are eating these bars so they can find the flavors in these diff kind of variety of chocolate and cocoa.”
“We think this has to go together. The flavor of a really good bar of chocolate, it has to go together with the education.”