Cocoa is grown in more than 35 countries in an area of land around the equator between 20 degrees latitude north and south. To meet certain specific conditions, most cocoa actually grows within 10 degrees of the equator.
Twenty Degrees is also the name of Olam Cocoa’s new specialty cacao business, launched earlier this year to source premium quality cacao beans from around the world.
We see some quite special beans, either from the flavour side or story side
Leopold Palmer, Business Head, Twenty Degrees, reveals more about how the initiative took off.
“We've really been working on this I'd say for about a year and a half. It came from two sides … on one side, the supply side from all our experiences, and also from my personal experience as well in Ecuador. We see some quite special beans, either from the flavour side or story side.
“Historically we haven't really had a market to sell those micro-batch beans which are quite expensive as well pretty unique - so that kind of kept cropping up and especially in Latin America. I used to focus on Latin America when I was living in New York and we would often see these offers coming through and we would have to pass them by or pass them on to someone else to take a look at. So we thought it was about time had a look at how we could cater to that.
“And on the demand side, it’s been a trend, not only in cocoa, but in everything, of increased interest in the provenance of different products. It has been going on for a long time on an industrial scale as well. You can see just by going to the supermarket that there are so many new chocolate bars and chocolate makers or people working in chocolate looking for new raw materials to work with. “
Palmer says although it’s a small market, it is one that is definitely growing.
He says The Twenty Degrees business model is built on positive partnerships with farmers and customers. It is helping farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices and investing in the growth and security of the communities in which it works.
“Because we buy from the farmers and their local team, what we are doing is to split out the beans which are coming from female farmers and we are offering a segregated women-only produced cacao from the same group of farmers.
“There’s a bit a premium attached to it, and that sells it a bit more … those beans have been one of the more popular ones, and that additional premium will be used for doing some gender empowerment initiatives at origin.”
Palmer reinforces the message that Twenty Degrees buys direct from the farmers and will pay a premium to everyone involved in the supply chain, and it also offers a price transparency to its customers.
- The Twenty Degrees range of premium cacao beans is available now in the USA and Europe and can be delivered anywhere in the world. To find out more about the business and each of the 10 origins, visit: twentydegreescacao.com.
- Listen to our full interview with Leo in our latest podcast.