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  November 3rd, 2017 | Written by

From Bean To Bar Chocolate

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  • Chocolate is the largest chunk of the $34.5 billion US confectionery industry.
  • Chocolate sales amount to $21.1 billion in the US.
  • There has been considerable growth in organic and artisanal chocolates.

Regardless of your specific line of business, if you are selling a product, one of the most important aspects of your business will always be logistics. One example of a growing product market that needs the right logistics provider is the premium chocolate industry. According to the National Confectioners Association, chocolate is the largest chunk of the $34.5 billion US confectionery industry, with sales accounting for $21.1 billion (or more than 60 percent).

Given the vastness of the chocolate industry, it makes sense that chocolate manufacturers offer various blends of chocolates which vary in gloss, sweetness and color, among other characteristics. In particular, there has been considerable growth in the niche business of organic and artisanal types of chocolate. As consumers become more aware of the ingredients that go into what they are eating, they are looking for healthier options, with pure ingredients and less sugar – even for their sweet tooth cravings.

Take a look at Los Angeles, California-based Marsatta Chocolate, which produces artisan 100 percent organic and vegan chocolate bars. When manufacturing chocolate, the company focuses a great deal of attention on the cacao bean. Although the cacao tree is native to the Americas, originating in Central America and part of Mexico, today, cacao beans are grown in West Africa and Asia, mostly Malaysia and Indonesia. Marsatta Chocolate imports their beans from Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Peru. The journey of the beans is a long one, and in the case of Peru, they are often farmed in plantations in the jungle before being transported to the port and taken on a more than 4,000 mile journey via ocean freight to Marsatta’s headquarters in California.

For fine chocolate makers such as Marsatta Chocolate, there are various factors to be taken into consideration when shipping their cacao beans.

Ocean shipping. Given that ocean freight shipping often can provide the best price, it is the most common form of transportation for this commodity. With ocean freight, chocolate makers with small-sized shipments can often choose to use Less-than-Container Loads (LCL), which tend to be a more cost efficient consolidated service. Additionally, the beans need to be transported in containers at the right temperature without humidity, given that humidity can cause fungus and ultimately damage the bean.

Warehousing. Some shippers may require warehousing for their cacao beans or finished products. When choosing a logistics provider, it is important to ensure the provider has warehousing that meets quality standards and follow proper storage requirements to avoid food contamination. Some contaminants may include pests, including rats or ants that can reside in a warehouse, container or truck environment. Other pests such as weevils, which are found in fields or gardens, can be transported in a shipment with grains or seeds, and quickly spread to other cargo if not properly inspected or if the facility does not conduct proper sterilization.

Customs processes. Customs processes vary depending upon the type of shipment. With perishables such as chocolate, it is important to have a logistics provider whose experienced customs brokers can validate shipments before entering the country. Not only does working with an experience broker help reduce any complexities or delays, but it can also prevent an importer or exporter from incurring any non-compliance penalties.

For an enjoyable bar of chocolate with fruity, earthy or floral tones, the key is not only in the cacao bean itself, but also in its journey. For an experienced chocolatier such as Jeffray D. Gardner, founder of Marsatta Chocolate, who has been in the business for 23 years, and other small business owners, there are many factors to consider for success, but one that cannot be overlooked is logistics and a product’s entire supply chain from point A to B.