Chocolate maker drops its commitment to real cocoa beans

Joint-stock company Laima, Latvia’s leading confectioner is giving up the use of cocoa beans imported directly from Ghana in favor of cocoa mass in the chocolate-making process, NP Foods board chairman Erik Smith Hansen told national information agency LETA Friday.

Though positioned as a company swearing by high-end quality symbolized by the natural cocoa beans rather than processed cocoa mass, Hansen explained that Laima was competing amidst more stringent food safety requirements in the market.

“It’s being done for food safety reasons, to keep up quality standards and stay competitive in export markets. Quality standards are rising rapidly around the world and Laima would be unable to compete and be among the losers by continuing to process its own cocoa beans,” Hansen said.

The firm is currently evaluating five or six suppliers to the world’s chocolate industry while testing ways to preserve the characteristic flavor of Laima chocolate products. The switchover to the new lines using cocoa mass could be complete by the end of the year.

“The quality will still be highest-level, no vegetable oils will be used. Buying in bulk from one supplier will ensure stable prices and keep costs down,” the company chief summarized.

NP Foods concern is making other changes to its food business structures, planning to add potato chip maker Lafood to its holdings and invest more than two million euros into its other branches as it takes over distribution of Estonian Kalev and Latvian Laima sweets.

The conglomerate came under the control of Norway's Orkla group in January.

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