Thursday, July 30, 2009


* The simple 3 person factory produces three basic chocolate bars, prepared from organically grown, jungle shaded cacao trees, to the end product in a very nice wrapper. Comparable to any in the world and a real gourmet item gift.


From the jungle to the chocolate bar wrapper in a remote area.



This news film on tv for Channel 5 on Wednesday night, should be an entrepreneurial training film for budding entrepreneurs in Dangriga, for Dr. Petters Institute summer program and the many small business programs being offered by different NGO’s and agencies around the coastal areas of Belize.
It ran the viewer on the evening news program on Wednesday night, through the various steps of a three person chocolate factory. “COTTON TREE CHOCOLATE FACTORY OF TOLEDO DISTRICT OF BELIZE” The first part of the program had me chortling and bursting out laughing so hard, I nearly fell out of my hammock. They were using a 3/8 inch electric, battery powered, hand drill to spin a tumbler that would grind the beans, then they did something else, and after that they dried the bean concoction with a plastic hand held HAIR DRYER from a beauty saloon in a plastic hand basin. Needless to say the quantities of chocolate bars they are producing are very small.
Everything else; even though very small scale, as cheap as you could make it, was a GREAT PILOT PROJECT. They had a microwave oven, regular kitchen size, with a turning cage for roasting beans, instead of the usual circular spinning plate you normally get with a micro wave oven. Some of the follow up steps in electric home mixers and and so forth, they seemed to have some very good chocolate making equipment. The finished product when it came out of the mold, looked like real chocolates. The wrapping in aluminum foil with their brand name and the packaging container was also first class.
My understanding is they are producing three types of chocolate, a milk chocolate and then two more grades going into the bitter end of chocolate. Bitter chocolate does not favor my palate and as they explained, to eat that stuff is an acquired taste.
All in all, I thought they were on the right track indeed, in their little processing shack. Now if they can get an overseas buyer to buy a few dozen bars at a time, with nearby jungle grown, organic chocolate made from start to finish, from the trees in the jungle, all the way to the finished wrapped product, they may grow as an excellent small niche gourmet, brand name business. I can forsee a few hundred thousand dollars a year gross, easily for this factory future. What they need is a foreign importer buyer, who will give them feed back, on mixing the taste to suit local palates in the country they expect to get orders from. So they can match a local market overseas someplace and then they can borrow money from the Development Finance Corporation and get a bit more labor saving equipment and they are away, to grow their enterprise with their abilities. Expanding their market. They are going to need a foreign buyer to nurse them along though. I doubt the bitter chocolate will have any buyers? But who am I to say? They are definitely on the right track. I feel taste and flavor will be the only changes they might have to make, according to whichever foreign firm will support them with unique niche gourmet market chocolate confection orders.
If I could get some photographs I would post this on our international news blog to help them out. The Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory has promise and surely are starting out right. The next step is a mentor, or foreign overseas buyer willing to nurse them along, as they improve flavor and increase their capability to make larger quantities with less hand labor. The labor is Garifuna down on the TOLEDO COAST of Belize.

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