Ghanaian cocoa processor seeks greater business with growing Chinese market

As Ghana showcases the best of its traditional and non-traditional export products at the ongoing 2018 China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, one local company has said it will take advantage of the event to expand its export to China.

Niche Cocoa, a wholly-owned private Ghanaian cocoa processing company located in the Free Zones enclave in Tema, 25 km east of the capital Accra, looks forward to the opportunity to showcase the best of its products to the Chinese market.

Speaking to Xinhua, Francis Kangah, Quality Control Manager of Niche, said the company that was established in May 2011 exports its processed cocoa products in the form of liquor (paste) and butter to its major destination markets in Europe, including Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Russia.

However Kangah said the Chinese market was emerging strongly compared to Europe, and the company has also started exporting its cocoa cake and powder to China, with promising prospects.

“We started exporting to China about three years ago, where we send mostly cake and powder with a growing demand,” he said, adding the company currently exports about 40 percent of cocoa cake and powder to China.

In order to add more value to cocoa, Niche commissioned its own confectionery plant and started producing Niche Chocolate made from authentic Ghanaian cocoa beans in 2017.

The plant was initially intended to serve the Ghanaian market with another brand of Ghanaian chocolates, the Golden Tree that is produced by state-owned Cocoa Processing Company.

With the trend of growth and significant increase in exports of cake and powder to China in recent years, Niche envisages a boom in demand in the near future.

“The shipment is actually growing as far as China is concerned,” he said, expressing the belief that China would ultimately become a big market for Niche chocolates.

It has been the strategy of government of Ghana to increase the local processing of cocoa to at least 50 percent of total annual beans production in the medium term.

“If China starts importing chocolate from Ghana, which will actually enhance value addition to cocoa.” he said, adding that the CIIE has presented the West African country a great opportunity to showcases its brand chocolate made from authentic Ghanaian cocoa beans.

“The opportunity to export to China, I believe is going to be a good business for us. The chocolate itself tastes very good, and it is chocolate coming from the best cocoa beans in the world,” he said.

Kangah therefore expressed the hope that during the fair, the company would be able to meet with buyers who are interested in Ghana’s cocoa which is the benchmark beans globally.

Kangah said the company has been seeking to establish a subsidiary in China so as to bring the company and its products closer to consumers in that market. “The expo therefore will present that great opportunity to fulfil this dream.” he said.

For a long time, cocoa has remained the lifeline of Ghana’s economy as a key source of employment for 800,000 farmers and other cocoa sector workers. It is also a major source of foreign exchange earnings.

With more than 900,000 metric tons of beans produced during the 2017/2018 crop year, the country was able to secure 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in selling the crops.

However, apart from the state-owned Cocoa Processing Company, there has not been much attempt to grind the cocoa beans locally over the years due to limited processing capacity, let alone transform them into finished products.

The country has therefore remained largely an exporter of raw cocoa beans, with only around 20 percent of its cocoa beans processed locally.