The cocoa supply chain - from bean to bonbon
Rabobank Foundation & cocoa: Norandino
The Rabobank Foundation is helping small farmers in western Peru learn how to produce more and better cocoa, and is assisting small cocoa producers in banding together in cooperatives. One such cooperative, Norandino, guarantees the farmers a market and offers them a fair price for their product. This has doubled the income of these farmers, which has meant real improvement in their quality of life.
Made in the shade
The ripe and unripe cacao fruits grow directly on the trunk and thickest branches of the cacao tree. Each year the tree will bear 30 to 40 fruits, each of which in turn contains 40 to 50 beans. To protect the cacao trees from the harsh tropical sun, farmers plant other trees around them, like banana and mango, which provide the shade of their large leaves.
Harvesting by hand
The farmer plucks the fruits by hand, so he can feel and smell whether the fruit is ripe. He scoops out the beans and white pulp from the inside of the fruit. At this point, the beans are still tough and have a bitter flavour. The farmer collects the beans into large tubs and covers his harvest with banana leaves.
At this point, the beans begin to spontaneously ferment in their own pulp. The farmer must stir them regularly and transfer them to another container from time to time. Gradually, the meat of the fruit liquefies and runs off. The fermentation process takes approximately eight days. An inspector slices a few beans open to check whether the fermentation process has produced the right flavour, aroma and colour. If so, then the farmer sets the beans out on large tables to dry in the sun for another eight days.
Gather all the beans!
The farmer packs the beans in 60kg sacks and stores them until he has enough to fill a whole truck. That happens about four times per year. The full truck takes them to the factory, where the beans get dried again. After a quality check, the factory sends out samples to its customers. If they are satisfied with the quality, they buy up the batches and ship them to the processing plant.
Bean, nib, chocolate
The chocolate maker roasts the beans in the oven until they are crisped and brown. That takes between 40 and 60 minutes, depending on the type of bean and the type of chocolate. After cooling, the maker 'cracks' the beans: this means breaking them and filtering out the shells, leaving the nibs, the edible bits inside that are the raw material for the rest of the production process. Machines grind, roll and heat the nibs until, after about two days, they have formed a thick paste. The chocolate maker then adds sugar and powdered milk in certain quantities (depending on the desired end product). Finally, the resulting mixture can be poured into moulds and cooled until it becomes chocolate bars, ready to enjoy.
Norandino chocolate bar
Rabobank Foundation has teamed up with Netherlands-based company Chocolatemakers to produce a chocolate bar made from cocoa beans supplied by the Norandino agricultural cooperative in Peru. Chocolatemakers uses only sustainable and fair-trade cocoa and purchases its beans directly from the cooperative. The picture shows Santiago Paz Lopez, the cooperative’s director, presenting the first chocolate bar to Rabobank Foundation Director Pierre van Hedel. Pictured on the right: Enver and Rodney, the owners of Chocolatemakers.
Experience the taste of Peru
Norandino chocolate bars (available in milk and dark varieties, with a 52% cocoa content) are currently only available through Rabobank.