Twenty Degrees launch brings specialty cocoa to craft chocolate makers

Backed by Olam Cocoa, Twenty Degrees is a new specialty cacao business sourcing premium quality cacao beans from around the world.

The premium chocolate market has seen significant growth in recent years as consumers become more interested in the provenance of their food and increasingly seek out high quality, artisanal products with a flavour and story. Twenty Degrees – named for the cacao belt which range 20-degree north and south of the equator – is responding by souring premium quality cacao beans from 10 regions, each hand-picked for their distinctive flavour and sensory profile.

The business will 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 to Papua New Guinea, to beans farmed by the Eperara community in Ecuador’s coastal rainforest, a community only accessible by boat. A team of agronomists will work with each community to ensure the quality and flavour of its cacao meets the highest standards.

The Twenty Degrees business model is built on partnerships with farmers and customers. It aims to help farmers adopt sustainable farming practices and investing in the growth and security of the communities it works with. This also allows the business to provide its customers with new levels of transparency and traceability right back to the farm gate, so chocolate makers have the information on the cacao beans they buy, from the farmers who grew them to the carbon footprint of the crop.

Leopold Palmer, business head of Twenty Degrees, said: “We’re exploring new territories and discovering fresh terroirs in established growing regions, uncovering 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 draw on the expertise and operational strength of Olam Cocoa, a business under Olam Food Ingredients (OFI). The former will be able to benefit from the latter’s experience in cocoa sustainability and from the insight and expertise of its dedicated flavour lab in the Netherlands, which will test the specialty cacao beans and help to bring out their flavour, smell and texture.

Commenting on the launch of Twenty Degrees Gerard A. Manley, CEO of Olam Cocoa, said: “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 flavour differentiation. 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.

“We are building on our wider OFI 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.”