Premium chocolate brand founded 15 years ago in San Diego, California produces culinary-driven chocolate products.
Co-founder and chef, Michael Antonorsi, said:“[We] cross flavors sometimes from the savory side to the sweet side, trying to bring multi-sensory experiences to the consumer,”
The brand currently offers a variety of flavors under its signature premium bar line, including potato chip, spicy Maya, and strawberry waffle.
Chuao said there have been over 1,200 companies committed to fair trade sourcing as of 2015. “This movement is a reflection of consumers’ growing awareness of where and how their food is sourced,” the company added.
Antonorsi noted that Chuao has implemented multiple sustainability practices at its factory – “from reduced packaging and organic certified cleaning solutions, to upgrading facility to be energy efficient.”
However, the company only started sourcing Fair Trade USA certified cocoa about two years ago.
“We craft our confections in partnership with reputable US chocolate purveyors. It is of utmost importance to us that the chocolate purveyors we select provide documentation that the chocolate we purchase is ethically sourced,” the spokesperson said.
Chuao did not disclose any detailed information about its chocolate providers. Antonorsi said the company sources cocoa from multiple suppliers.
“We are not bean-to-bar,” he pointed out. “We work with our chocolate manufacturers to make sure that the signature line uses Venezuelan cocoa in the mix, which is our proprietary blend.”
Making premium more accessible
Chuao believes that chocolate made with sustainable cocoa is not exclusive to those consumers who are willing to pay a premium price. It recently developed a line called “California Collective” targeting mass audiences.
The range is covered with brand new California-themed packaging. Its five flavors are pool party pretzel, salted caramel dreamin’, bright & sunny honey, sea salt surf, and sun kissed coconut, and each bar retails for around $3 – nearly half the price of Chuao’s signature bar.
“California Collective is more like a ‘spring board’ for consumers to get familiar with us. It helps reduce the barrier of entry in terms of getting to taste our chocolate,” Antonorsi said.
He added creating the new packaging was a “collaborative process” by different teams at Chuao. “We have been traveling and figuring out how to create a collection of bars that somehow can highlight the spirit of the company and the location of where we live – San Diego,” he said.
However, the California chocolate bars do not use cocoa exclusively from Venezuela, and “that’s how we achieved a lower price point,” Antonorsi said.
“The key thing is that all the cocoa is fair-trade. The bottom line is the flavor achieved through the production of the chocolate is what we expect so we can actually add other ingredients to enhance the experience of the consumer,” he added.
Chuao is expected to continue delivering “sustainable growth” in 2018, Antonorsi said.