Olam Cocoa is backing a new specialty cacao business called Twenty Degrees

Named for the cacao belt, which is the range of 20 degrees north and south of the equator where cocoa can grow, the new venture will source premium quality cacao beans from 10 unique regions around the world. 

Olam says the premium chocolate market has seen significant growth in recent years as consumers have become more interested in the provenance of their food, increasingly seeking out high quality, artisanal products with a unique flavor and story. 

Twenty Degrees aims to unlock opportunities for farmers by bringing single-origin cacao beans to market that are either too specialist or too remote to be sold to mainstream manufacturers. 

From cacao grown in the highland Simbu region of Papua New Guinea, to beans farmed by the indigenous Eperara community in Ecuador’s coastal rainforest — a community only accessible by boat — each sourcing region has been hand-picked for their distinctive flavor and sensory profile. 

A team of agronomists will work with each community to make sure the quality and flavor of its cacao meets the highest standards.

The Twenty Degrees business model is built on positive partnerships with farmers and customers. It aims to help farmers adopt sustainable farming practices by investing in the growth and security of the communities it works with. 

This also allows it to provide customers with new levels of transparency and traceability right back to the farm gate, so chocolate makers can know everything about the cacao beans they buy — from the farmers who grew them to the carbon footprint of the crop.

“We’re on a mission to change the way we think about premium cacao,” said Leopold Palmer, business head, Twenty Degrees. “We’re exploring new territories and discovering fresh terroirs in established growing regions, uncovering unique cacao beans farmed to the highest quality with the greatest possible positive impact. And we’re doing this in a way that is transparent, traceable and delivers quality, consistency and taste to meet the needs of craft chocolate makers.”

Twenty Degrees will be led by an entrepreneurial new team, but it will draw on the expertise and operational strength of Olam Cocoa, one of the industry-leading businesses under Olam Food Ingredients (OFI). Twenty Degrees benefits from Olam Cocoa’s long-standing experience in cocoa sustainability and from the insight and expertise of its dedicated flavor lab in the Netherlands, which will test the specialty cacao beans and help to bring out their unique flavor, smell and texture.

“With Twenty Degrees, we are combining our knowledge of cocoa farming and our capability to source from distant and often remote communities with a greater focus on flavor differentiation,” said Gerard A. Manley, CEO of Olam Cocoa. “It will leverage our existing presence to drive sustainable farming practices and support livelihoods as part of Cocoa Compass, our sustainability ambition for the future of the industry.”

He added that Olam is building on its wider Olam Food Ingredients offering to provide natural, value-added ingredients that positively impact people and the planet. 

“With the benefit of our knowledge and scale, Twenty Degrees will create something truly unique in the specialty market,” Manley said.

The Twenty Degrees range of premium cacao beans is available now in the U.S. and Europe and can be delivered anywhere in the world. To find out more about the business and each of the ten origins, visit: https://twentydegreescacao.com/ or follow activity on LinkedIn and Instagram.