Italy’s Venchi group teams up with Koa for cocoa fruit based sorbet

Italian chocolate and gelato manufacturer Venchi has teamed up with Ghana-based cocoa fruit juice start-up business, Koa, for a new sorbet range, reports Neill Barston.

As previously reported by Confectionery Production, the emerging African enterprise has been among the first to examining commercially scaling up the full use of cacaofruit for wider commercial use within product ranges.

Earlier this year, the company, which also has Swiss connections, struck a deal with major confectionery brand Lindt & Sprüngli for what is believed to be the first chocolate bar range sweetened with cocoa pulp – which as the business noted, had previously not been processed in cocoa-growing countries due to a lack of technology and infrastructure.

In conventional cocoa processing, only a small part of the white pulp was used for fermentation. Koa has found an innovative way to gently process the cocoa fruit in close cooperation with 1,600 smallholders.

“The utilisation of the cocoa pulp enables the smallholders to earn an additional income and at the same time creates jobs in rural Ghana,” Daniel Otu, operations director at Koa in Ghana, explains. Cocoa fruit sorbet, shake and praline for Gelato fans Koa Pure opens up new possibilities for the food industry.

Thanks to the 100% natural juice and its gentle processing, the original aroma of the cocoa fruit is preserved. Besides aroma, sweetness is an important factor for gelato creations. Koa Pure naturally provides it. Especially at low temperatures, the exotic fruity taste unfolds. Thus, it’s ideal for applications such as gelato. The Italian chocolate and gelato manufacturer Venchi has discovered this potential and recently presented its product innovation, the cocoa fruit sorbet.

Based on the sorbet, Venchi also offers a gelato shake and a gelato praline. The three creations are available in Italy, England and Germany at Venchi boutiques.

Giovanni Battista Mantelli, Venchi director and innovation manager, said: “I am really glad we found a partner which is located directly at the cocoa farms and perfectly preserves this precious nectar. Thanks to this collaboration, we can present a world premiere of our Italian gelato made with cocoa pulp to discover the delicate fruity and refreshing taste which I tried for the first time when I visited the cocoa rainforest.”

For Koa, which operates a dedicated team of 42 people split across Ghana and Switzerland, the partnership is a milestone. By using the pulp, cocoa farmers can now benefit twice, with the company aiming to partner with 80,000 smallholders by 2030 to sustainably transforming the agricultural segment.

“As young entrepreneurs, we’re particularly proud to cooperate with the traditional manufacturer and innovation leader Venchi for this new gelato,” Anian Schreiber, co-founder and managing director of Koa, highlights. “Venchi’s launch clearly shows how versatile Koa Pure can be used and what potential the cocoa fruit has. The additional income benefits not only the cocoa farmers but also gelato fans with a wonderful summer-like taste and the conscience of doing something good.”

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