At Expo West 2019, FoodBev’s Harriet Jachec spoke with Ari Morimoto, the director of marketing for Tcho Chocolate, about how the brand’s Flavor Labs influence the overall taste of its products.
Awareness of how supply chains impact the overall product was a prevalent theme at this year’s show, and Morimoto explained how Tcho is working with key members of their supply chain to create a self-sustaining way of producing high-quality chocolate.
“Most people don’t even realise that the vast majority of cacao farmers haven’t even tasted chocolate, and that’s problematic when you’re trying to create a high-end chocolate product.
“So we’ve tried to solve that problem by going down to each region that we source our cacao from – Peru, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Ghana and Madagascar – and built what we call ‘Flavor Labs’, which are small laboratories with everything you need to make small batches of your own chocolate.
“We then train all of our farmer partners on how to make chocolate, but more importantly, we teach them how to taste it. What does it taste like when it’s not fermented properly, or it’s not dried properly? We can help them change their processes to maintain a high consistency but also quality throughout their part of our supply chain.”
This has allowed Tcho to become more innovative in its product options, too, as having cacao farmers be aware of how the process impacts the end flavour opens up more avenues for experimentation.
“We’re showing our whole bar and baking lines here at Expo West. We have some really unique flavours – Tcho has always been an innovative, out-of-the box thinker.
“Our mint choc chip gelato bar, for example, has a custom mint gelato freeze-dried into the product itself, which is 62% dark chocolate. Not only do you get a nice mint flavour, but you get this airy, crisp crunch too.
“Most chocolate companies will incorporate some mint essential oils into a product like this, which is great, but we wanted to do something really different with the product.”
The importance of organic status was also a key theme at Expo West 2019. Morimoto stressed how the organic movement has impacted on Tcho.
“Most people don’t realise that organic also means non-GMO. We feel like the movement here in the States is very strong, and consumers are going to be turned off by high-end chocolate that is not organic. It’s also something that we’ve helped farmers transition into so they can command a higher price for their cacao, so it’s very beneficial all along the supply chain.”
Presented by: Harriet Jachec
Edited by: Alex Clere
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019