Ingredient Snapshot: Easter, a holiday long associated with decadent chocolate eggs and bunnies, serves as the perfect backdrop as Cargill expands its Veliche line with two dynamic, Signature Origins dark couverture chocolates. With the announcement, Cargill becomes the only gourmet chocolate supplier to bring the intense flavors of El Salvador and the Democratic Republic of Congo to chefs around the world.
“In developing our new Signature Origins products, we searched the cocoa-growing regions of the world to bring chefs chocolate with unique flavor profiles that truly stand apart from current gourmet offerings,” said Wim Bastiaens, Cargill’s gourmet and distribution director. “Our Usulután 65 Signature Origin dark couverture chocolate from El Salvador and Okapi 65 Signature Origin dark couverture chocolate from the Democratic Republic of Congo are the result—gourmet chocolates that will surprise and delight consumers’ palates.”
While only small quantities of cocoa beans are produced in El Salvador, those that do grow in its rich, volcanic soils are highly prized. To make the country’s unique flavors accessible to chefs, Cargill partnered with the third-generation cocoa farmers of the Hacienda San José Real de la Carrera, drawn to their flavorful cocoa beans, infused with complex nutty, fruity and floral notes.
Nearly 12,000 kilometers east, Cargill discovered the Okapi Cooperative in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces an intense herbaceous cocoa with flavors of spices and dried fruits. These unique cocoa beans will be grown exclusively for Cargill and used to craft its Okapi Signature Origins dark couverture chocolate.
Alongside the new product launches, Cargill reveals a revamped website and new resealable and recyclable packaging that showcases the diverse chefs and farmers behind the company’s gourmet chocolate. The enhanced packaging represents one part of an expanding commitment to the environment.
“Since its introduction to the gourmet market in 2016, sustainability has been a pillar of the Veliche brand,” Bastiaens said, noting that most Veliche cocoa and chocolate products are sustainably sourced from Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, and all are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. “Five years later, and we’re still the only gourmet line to offer 100 percent sustainably sourced cocoa and chocolate. Now we’re going a step further, unveiling a program designed to support entrepreneurship in our cocoa-origin countries.”
Cargill is investing $950,000 (EUR 800,000) in a new sustainability initiative in Cote d’Ivoire supported by Veliche, which aims to empower cocoa farming households to become ‘agripreneurs’ and manage their farms as businesses. The program, implemented through our partner, the international development nonprofit TechnoServe, includes individual coaching on good agricultural practices, provides support with on- and off-farm income diversification, and entrepreneurship training for women and youth.
“When we invest in sustainability initiatives, we’re equipping our customers for success, too,” Bastiaens said. “Today’s socially and environmentally conscious consumers increasingly prioritize sustainable, ethically sourced products. With the Veliche sustainability program, we’re encouraging our industry partners to join us, investing in cocoa-farming communities, and at the same time, making their own brands more sustainable.”
Cargill’s actions to expand its Veliche line and reaffirm its commitment to the gourmet chocolate space come just six months since the announcement of its investment in additional capabilities in its Kalmthout, Belgium, gourmet production facility in 2020. That move followed a string of investments in the gourmet segment, including acquisitions of Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s global chocolate business in 2015 and Smet decorations in 2019.