Ethical chocolate business MIA set for industry first with Ghana production expansion

Ethically-founded Madagascan premium chocolate company MIA (Made In Africa) is delivering a claimed industry first in becoming the only bean-to-bar business operating in two countries within the continent, under its ambitious plans expanding into Ghana, reports Neill Barston.

As its owners explained to Confectionery Production, the move allows it to extend its impact and offer an additional unique range of flavours from its series, which was established to ensure maximum support for local communities through retaining manufacturing at source.

Underlining this, as the company noted, MIA was founded on the belief that communities across the African continent can improve their livelihoods by creating value-added food products. In 2017, the brand launched a range of single origin and bean-to-bar chocolates in Madagascar, targeting specialty stores with unique vegan flavours that won five Great Taste Awards.

The addition of the Ghana Gold, which is made entirely in Ghana, features a combination of classic dark bars, dairy milk flavours and vegan m!lk chocolate alternatives – with the latter featuring cashews, which stands as a rare dairy substitute in the chocolate industry that normally uses oat or rice powder. Despite notable challenges amid the Covid-19 pandemic, its operations have continued in Madagascar,  as explored in a video interview with Confectionery Production exploring its progress in the region.

Co-founder Sarah Lescrauwaet believed that the company’s expansion to manufacturing in Ghana would prove a significant chapter in the development of its ethical business model, with the new Gold series being made available this autumn.

She said: “Our goal is to join delicious flavours with extraordinary impact. Cashews are prized for their rich taste and farmers in Ghana grow the crop, allowing us to keep more value in the country. This combination of flavour and impact made cashews the perfect ingredient to create a silky smooth vegan m!lk chocolate.”

Ghana Gold will be made in partnership with ABOCFA (pictured, main image), a Fairtrade and organic farmer cooperative in Suhum, and a local factory in Tema to craft chocolate with freshly harvested cocoa while keeping the entire value chain and chocolate in Ghana.

Co-founder Brett Beach reflected on the significance of the brand’s second made in Africa range: “As the world’s second largest producer of cocoa, Ghana should also be a formidable manufacturer of chocolate bars, but this is not the case.

“The country accounts for less than 1% of finished chocolate enjoyed around the world.We want to change this. Cocoa farmers need to be supported, but we are not giving African communities a fair share of value if we limit our trade with them to raw ingredients. Europe moved beyond reliance on subsistence agriculture during the Industrial Revolution and we need to create trade relationships that give other nations the chance to achieve the same level of prosperity. The made-in-Africa trade model creates four times the economic impact of raw cocoa export and supports the skilled jobs in the chocolate making process. We believe this fair made model should be a new standard of Fairtrade.”

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