Cocoa start-up Koa teams up with Valrhona for sustainable fruit juice

Cocoa farming in Ghana (pic Ben Rotthoff)

French premium chocolate brand Valrhona has taken on a joint venture with Swiss-Ghanaian start-up firm Koa to deliver a new cocoa fruit juice concentrate for chefs, known as Oabika, writes Neill Barston.

The new range, which has been delivered with strong sustainability principles, is targeting the gastronomy world, created after months of research into delivering the product which promises a smooth texture and unique taste.

Consequently, Oabika is thought to be the very first cocoa fruit juice concentrate at 72° Brix (scale measuring sucrose in liquid) created especially for the food service. It has an amber-coloured appearance, and fruity, tangy flavour with honey-like notes.

The newly devised series is being launched this month for global marketings including Europe, Asia, USA and Middle East.

Its emergence follows several other key industry collaborations involving Koa, which recently saw the business team up with Italian chocolate brand Venchi to create a new series of sorbet, as well as a project featuring Swiss premium chocolate firm Lindt & Sprüngli utilising cocoa pulp for a new chocolate bar series.

Speaking on the latest venture from Koa, Frédéric Bau, pastry explorer at Maison Valrhona, and Victor Delpierre, drink expert and gastronomy consultant, describe Oabika as a “complete and playful experience.”

They added that “Oabika is a magical ingredient that highlights, enhances and balances tastes. It represents an exceptional moment in time, deliciously refreshing, which takes you on a journey deep inside the pod to the heart of a cocoa plantation.”

After Koa’s success with their cocoa fruit juice and dried cocoa fruit, the new concentrate
elaborated by Valrhona together with Koa is an innovation that complements the range of cocoa fruit
ingredients.

Oabika offers a multitude of applications such as ganache, jellies, mousses, toppings, sauces, glazes, creams, ice creams, sorbets, or drinks. Whether it’s to create new flavour experiences or
to demonstrate what sustainable value creation in the cocoa-growing countries really means.

Furthermore, the  availability of cocoa fruit concentrate for chefs and other gastronomy professionals signifies a milestone for the cocoa fruit valorisation and the cocoa farmers. As the demand for cocoa fruit ingredients grows rapidly, the chances to create a positive impact in the cocoa-growing countries increases at the same time.

Until recently, the pulp that surrounds the cocoa beans couldn’t be processed in cocoa-growing countries due to a lack of infrastructure and technology.

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

“As we make use of the cocoa pulp, we provide smallholders with an additional income and at the same time, we create jobs for the young population in rural Ghana,” Daniel Otu, Operations Director at Koa in Ghana, explains.

For Koa, the cooperation with Valrhona is a success. Co-Founder and Managing Director Anian
Schreiber emphasises: “As a start-up, we’re proud to be cooperating with a highly reputable and well-
established chocolate brand as Valrhona who shares our mission of taking responsibility in cocoa-growing countries to the next level.

“With the launch of Oabika, we demonstrate how indulgence and responsibility for people and planet go hand in hand. We encourage others to seek such partnerships to tackle some of the food system’s most pressing challenges together.”

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