Cocoa processing comes to Trinidad and Tobago for first time

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

A new cocoa processing plant may help ramp up Trinidad and Tobago's nearly non-existent industry
A new cocoa processing plant may help ramp up Trinidad and Tobago's nearly non-existent industry

Related tags Chocolate

The republic of Trinidad & Tobago will have a cocoa-processing facility for the first time in its history.

Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company Ltd​. will produce 50 metric tons (MT) of estate origin chocolate at its new factory in Centeno, Trinidad, in September. Director Ashley Parasram said the company will officially launch the product in October during London Chocolate Week.

While the country has a 400 year history of exporting cocoa beans, there has never been a processing facility like this there before now, he said.

“The Trinitario bean is highly regarded,”​ Parasram told ConfectioneryNews about the region’s local cocoa bean. “But the production has declined form 30,000 MT 100 years ago to 500 MT now. If we’re serious about rehabilitating the cocoa sector here, we need to develop that and develop the domestic capacity.”

Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company will be supplying commercial chocolate, liquid chocolate and cocoa liquor and working with multiple production companies, Parasram said.

T&T cocoa team
The team at Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company

Creating and exporting quality

Parasram, who was born in Trinidad & Tobago and raised in London, said there is now more demand than ever across the world for fine cocoa and in Trinidad and Tobago, there are plenty of high-quality ingredients to match. He said they have great machinery for the best possible production in their facility. He said he wants to create a high-quality brand of cocoa that will be admired for its fine flavor.

“We’re going to have a very, very comprehensive certifications system and tracking system,”​ he said. “Even when you taste our chocolate, you will notice it. The location flavor profile becomes more distinct.”

Flavors will include milk, rum, guava and pepper, among others. Soon after starting production, the company will immediately start exporting products to Europe. In the next year, Parasram said he will shift more focus to North America.

Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company also already has a partnership with the UK’s Artisan Du Chocolat, which will help produce flavored chocolates and put the chocolate in the its shops across the world, including Dublin, Toyko and London.

Thus far, the company has received support from the Trinidad & Tobago government and local domestic institutions. It has also partnered with alcoholic companies, such as Angostura rum, Macallan whiskey and Angel Champagne, to help develop flavors.

“What we’re focusing on is a wider brand lifestyle approach,”​ Parasram said. “We’re not just simply producing chocolate.”

An opportunity to learn and grow

The biggest opportunity for the company will be to educate. Parasram believes chocolate has been “abused”​ for centuries by having it loaded with sugar and milk. With this estate origin chocolate, he wants to educate consumers on the different, unique flavor profiles of chocolate.

“For consumers to want to pay that price, they have to understand what makes it special,” ​he said. “The challenge is on us to communicate that information on the benefits of the dark chocolate and the distinctive differences in flavors from different estates. You have to explain the different variables in terms of bean types, growing conditions and landscape types," ​he said.

Over the next three years of business, Parasram plans on supporting growers by providing capital so they can grow more efficient yields with better quality. He believes supporting growers and educating consumers will positively affect the market.

“The end game is that I’d love to see agritourism as being a key revenue earner and a key attraction for people to come here,”​ he said. “Just like if I went to a vineyard in France, perhaps ​[people could spend] a week on a cocoa escape and watch the process from bean to bar. That’s an exciting prospect for Trinidad and Tobago.”

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Exploitation continues

Posted by Mike Jones,

The exploitation of the farmers and government subsidies continues with this sham. Farmers were promised $TT10 more per kg when the MoU was signed. Now they are offering $TT2 more. Our beans sell internationally for up to 3x what they are offering us. First they lie to us, then they steal from us. Colonialism packaged differently, same old tragedy. ($TT1= $US6.47)

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Posted by Christopher Runciman,

Brilliant news regarding the manufacture of chocolate on Trinidad and the proposal that it will encompase tourism development as well! For too many years we have watched the cocoa rotting on the trees for lack of local investment. Small producers such as the co-operative at Louis D'Or on Tobago should be encouraged and supported so as to enable them to do a similar enterprise on Tobago !

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