Trinidad and Tobago may soon have its own chocolate factory as the TT Fine Cocoa Company announced its investment in a new production plant for the manufacturing of quality chocolate products for the export market.
With an initial investment of $2.5 million dollars, the production facility is said to be a wider investment in a new, state-of-the-art cocoa-processing facility planned for next year.
“This investment is really about the export market,” said Ashley Parasram at the launch held at the Chocolate Box, Trinidad Hilton on Monday.
“Trinidad Cocoa is confident that we can get these products for the international market.”
Parasram said the company intended to establish the line and begin producing in the middle of next year. By the end of next year, Parasram hopes to begin exporting to the United States.
“We have two potential sites that we are trying to identify,” Parasram said. “We are either going to be close to Port of Spain, or not far from where our cocoa processing facility is – near the airport.”
Parasram added that the TT Fine Cocoa Company, which already has a relationship with the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) will provide opportunities for culinary students interested in joining the team at the new factory.
“The idea is to train local people but we do need people from the international markets to train us. So this is something that we have to make sure we get right.”
Michael Laiskonis, creative director of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York in a speech said TT has been considered the gold standard for cocoa, not for decades but for centuries.
“We have the passion of the small farmer and the meticulous work they are doing but we also have world-renowned academic research in cocoa as well as a rich history.”
Minister of Trade Paula Gopee-Scoon said, before, TT would primarily export beans and cocoa slabs. Now, the greater value is in the value-added products, the finished products coming from cocoa are now being exported more than the beans themselves.
“I am seeing that the market is absorbing whatever is produced. But what we want to do is urge farmers to get into the value-added products, because that is where the value is. Whatever is being produced internationally we can produce here and export.”