Uganda’s Latitude Craft Chocolate expands with Cocoa Runners UK distribution
Five years after founding in Uganda, Latitude Craft Chocolate has expanded its operations with exporting to the UK through distributor Cocoa Runners.
As the business explained to Confectionery Production, through direct face-to-face relationships with its cocoa suppliers, its transparent and 100% traceable supply chain is re-defining the term sustainability through operating the business entirely at source.
According to the company, which has production facilities in Kampala, Uganda, it selected Cocoa Runners as a stockist as the firm shared its ethos, and is committed to sourcing the finest craft chocolate, while ensuring ethical trade practices.
In addition, the business has also recently partnered with US distributor Bar and Cocoa, further enhancing its international presence.
Latitude’s journey began in cocoa sourcing – with the aim to create a sustainable supply chain serving both farmers and chocolate companies.
Speaking to Cocoa Runners on the company’s creation, US-born founder Jeff Steinberg explained: “Ultimately, having seen a gap in the market for quality Ugandan cocoa, we found our way to the sector through a willingness to learn, experiment and the crazy idea that we would buy 25 metric tons of cacao and figure out what to do with it. Learning how to source and ferment cacao takes a lot of trial and error and it’s quite expensive to send samples to the US for critique.
“So, to shorten our feedback loop, we decided to start making chocolate at origin. When it’s your own chocolate that is your only source of dark chocolate, you learn to improve quickly. Soon enough we’ve got ourselves a proper factory.“
Its five core bars (Semuliki 70%, Rwenzori 80%, Dark Milk, Bukonzo Coffee and White Caramel) are now available via the Cocoa Runners website.
The company noted it had been an ‘obsession with quality and sustainable development’ that had led to the creation of its production facilities, which are staffed by local young Ugandan chocolate makers who are eager to make their mark on the industry.
Speaking about its development, the company said: “We’re proud to be a Certified B Corporation meeting the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Through the Latitude supplier programme, we sign long term contracts with farmers to grow organic cacao, promote biodiversity and ensure fair labour practices on all farms. We guarantee this by routinely visiting and inspecting every individual supplier in our program. Our staff purchases the cocoa directly from farmers at collection points that are walking distance from their farms,” explained the business, nothing that its prices are 15-20% above market with a price floor to ensure suppliers have the best chance of supporting their households.
The company’s standard benefits includes training, insurance and microloans to help households turn their hard-earned income into wealth.
“This is what sustainability looks like in the cocoa supply chain and this is what is required to make the world of chocolate fairer. When we say ‘made at origin’ we mean it – we buy, ferment, sun-dry and hand-sort our raw cocoa at Latitude facilities near the farms before it goes to our own factory in Kampala.
“Here, our diligent chocolate makers and chocolatiers roast, refine, mould and wrap the chocolate in colourful wrappers which reflect the heritage of Uganda and the vibrance of our young team. Our signature dark chocolates contain only two ingredients, cocoa and cane sugar – all you need for dark chocolate. All of our products and flavours draw on locally sourced Ugandan ingredients from the milk and coffee to the vanilla.”