In Ghana, Koa produces juice from a previous waste product, cocoa pulp. What market potential do you see for this?
Werdin: The potential is very great, as the range of applications for cocoa fruit juice is broad and ranges from drinks, ice cream, chocolate ingredients to sweeteners. We also offer the juice as a concentrate, which further expands the range. Cocoa fruit juice is currently a hot topic for restaurants, bars and bakeries as well as the food industry. It is only a matter of time before the juice reaches its mass, be it as a drink or as an ingredient in an end product. Worldwide, however, there are currently only a small number of manufacturers of cocoa fruit juice and it is already becoming apparent that these companies cannot meet the great demand. We ourselves are currently expanding our capacities.
As a social enterprise, Koa supports cocoa farmers. How many benefit from the cooperation?
Werdin: We are currently buying the pulp from around 350 farmers in 35 small communities in central Ghana. You can use it to increase your income by around a third and thus get new perspectives for life in the country. We are currently renovating our factory to significantly increase our capacities - from 40 tons of juice in 2019 to 250 tons from this year. We are also planning to open a second factory for an additional 2021 tons of juice in late 2022 or early 800. As a result, we will be able to consistently supply major food & beverage players and we expect significant economies of scale and learning effects. This should make the cocoa fruit competitive with other exotic fruit products. Over the next ten years we want to work with 80.000 of the approximately 800.000 cocoa farmers in Ghana.
Will Koa also offer other cocoa fruit products in the future?
Werdin: We are in the process of further exploring the untapped potential that cocoa farms harbor. On the one hand, the pulp has other interesting components to offer, such as a fiber-rich center, and on the other hand, the cocoa peel is still unexplored and offers other possibilities.