Luker Chocolate purchases almost 40% of the total cacao produced in Colombia.
While it does own its own cocoa plantations, the majority of its supply comes from farming cooperatives in the growing regions of Santander, Arauca, Huila and Tumaco.
According to brand director Camilo Celis Rueda, by focusing on single origin cocoa Luker Chocolate is able to deliver a superior product in terms of taste, sustainability and transparency.
“We deliver a superior taste by using Single Origin Cacao Fino de Aroma. We can guarantee our business sustainability, transparency, supply and consistency, by integrating the entire value chain from the first seed to the final product,” Celis told FoodNavigator.
“We have a unique flavour that is given by the pureness of our origins. Made from selected beans from the different Fino de Aroma cocoa growing regions, their flavour does not only reflect the cocoa variety, but also richness of the soil and the cocoa growing culture of its region.”
Sustainability and social responsibility are also core messages for Luker Chocolate, which will be exhibiting at UK trade show The Ingredients Show in Birmingham next week.
The group has made transparency, quality and sustainability central to its business model. It delivers on these goals through research on cocoa genetics and addressing knowledge-gaps by delivering education to local cocoa farmers.
At its Granja Luker research centre, which was established in 1962, Luker Chocolate studies cocoa genotypes that can deliver on quality and stand-out taste, as well as being productive enough for farmers to generate a high enough income.
Granja Luker is also acting as an educational centre where cocoa farmers are trained in best practice to improve the quality and the productivity of the crop.
Changing consumer expectations
Celis explained that these principles provide the chocolate group with an important competitive advantage, leaving it well-placed to meet evolving consumer demands.
With consumer expectations around quality a given, shoppers increasingly want products to reflect their values, the cocoa expert suggested.
“The consumers are changing and moving really faster. They are not only looking for quality products. For them quality is a fact. They are demanding for products, brands and companies that can fit with their needs, philosophies and beliefs.”
So, what are these values? “Consumers really care about people, environment, the planet and the stories in the background.”
Attending the UK trade show represents an important opportunity for Luker Chocolate to communicate its sustainability credentials to an international audience. “We want the world to know more about Luker Chocolate and all the stories we have to tell,” Celis noted.
The industry must adapt
While Celis observed consumer attitudes and expectations are evolving at a rapid clip, he suggested that the industry needs to respond for improvements to accelerate.
“We believe that [sustainable development] is happening naturally in the chocolate industry because consumers are demanding more sustainable products. The speed of changes depends on how willing companies are to understand those trends and needs.”
Increased collaboration would help fast-track this evolution: “In order to accelerate improvements, we consider that the whole industry has to be more conscious and work together in order to communicate and [incentivise] all the initiatives that are being done to make cocoa a tool for change.”