Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1256204

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Page 57 of 91

PHOTO: PUNA CHOCOLATE SUMMER 2020 47 Making Connections Giller says one of the biggest trends in the craft chocolate industry has been the increase in connectivity and communication among different makers, who are meeting at festivals and increasingly connecting in other ways. "Craft chocolate lovers are finding one another more and more easily, with events tailored specifically to them like the Craft Chocolate Experience in San Francisco," she says. Guyton agrees that the industry festivals have been important, attracting both makers seeking an educational experience and consumers seeking to explore the world of specialty chocolate. In addition, partnerships such as FCIA's relationship with the Specialty Food Association's Fancy Food Shows have been helpful to the industry's many small, artisan companies. 20 trees, actually," says Vanegtern. In addition, Puna makes single- estate bars for its farmers to label and sell themselves to visitors who tour their farms. Guyton of FCIA, meanwhile, says the association has partnered with the USDA on a project in Latin America that is helping to boost cacao farmers' livelihoods there by improving their fermentation and drying practices, thus expanding the market for their beans. he says, citing the company's bars labeled with the island's various growing regions. Puna also has had some success with inclusions, many of which are created by the manager of the company's Illinois location, Teri Potter, sister of Puna Chocolate co-owner Adam Potter and the culinary leader at the company. "We're always scouring the internet, trying to find a new flavor profile or something that's starting to trend," says Vanegtern. Holiday gift-giving tends to drive a significant amount of chocolate sales, he says, but consumers are also interested in chocolate for its antioxidant content. For that reason, Puna Chocolate roasts its chocolate at lower temperatures to keep the antioxidants from burning off. Supporting Farmers Another characteristic that distinguishes many artisan chocolate makers is their commitment to ensuring that their farmers are compensated fairly. Although ethical sourcing is important to consumers, many probably don't understand exactly what that means, says Read of Xocolatl. They simply look for certifications on the packaging. "While people do want to support chocolate companies with ethical supply chains and organic ingredients, at the end of the day, most consumers are still choosing based on flavor quality," she says. Xocolatl purchases directly from 80 percent of its cacao suppliers, and expects to improve to 100 percent direct purchasing by the end of this year, Read says. "This means that we visit the farms and meet the farmers who grow the cacao we buy, and we come to terms together on pricing," she says. "We are looking to provide our suppliers with assurances that we'll continue purchasing from them so that we can build a long-term partnership rather than merely a transactional one." On Hawaii, Puna Chocolate works with members of its independent farmer network to help them expand and manage their cacao orchards. "They can be making pretty good money with just 10 or Mark Hamstra is a regular contributor to Specialty Food.

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