Founded in 2011 by Niche Cocoa Industry Ltd., Niche Confectionery makes both finished chocolate products – bars, drinks and spreads – as well as chocolate ingredients for the bakery and ice cream manufacturers. Those products include natural and alkalized cocoa powder, natural and deodorized cocoa butter, and cocoa liquor.
The parent company is Ghana’s largest independent cocoa processor at 60,000 metric tons annually – all of it Fairtrade, organic, halal, kosher and UTZ certified.
In a September 16 statement explaining its €8m ($8.7m) investment, FMO Bank noted that Ghana rarely benefits from its ‘most important agricultural product.’ The public-private Dutch firm focuses on sustainable economic and social progress in developing countries, especially in agribusiness, energy, and local financial institutions.
A 2018 report by the Corvinus University of Budapest, prepared for the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE), found that Ghana likely exports about 75% of its cocoa output.
With this cash influx, Niche will have the opportunity to reach the entire value chain in its home country, FMO continued – a contradiction frequently studied by researchers and industry analysts. Most of Ghana’s cocoa comes from smallholder farmers, and they remain far removed from key stakeholders and even from their own contract terms and conditions.
FMO said the investment will “lead to further employment, technical know-how, and value addition within the cocoa sector, all of which contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.”
The project poses a ‘high medium’ risk level, second in the bank’s environmental and social rationale.’ Niche currently works predominantly with organic-certified farmer co-ops, but this financial boost will open avenues to conventional producers.