Fastest-rising local cocoa processor in Ghana branche out to drinks
Niche Cocoa Industry Ltd. were founded in 2011 and currently manufacture high quality, semi-finished cocoa products for export, such as cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa cake and cocoa powder. In 2017, Niche commenced the production of chocolate for the local and international market. The company based in Tema, Ghana, near the capital, play an important role in facilitating the transfer of technical knowledge within Ghana’s cocoa processing industry while improving the livelihoods of local cocoa farmers.
Today, Niche Cocoa are the fastest-rising local cocoa processor in the country. Edmund A. Poku, the company’s Managing Director, explains, “With an installed processing capacity of 90,000 metric tons per year, an annual turnover of US$120 million and about 450 employees, we are excited about the opportunity to introduce the first and only locally produced and aseptically bottled chocolate milk in Ghana. Thanks to a loan from the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO in autumn 2019, Niche Cocoa were able to purchase manufacturing equipment from Sidel, which will allow us to produce chocolate drinks.” These products will be sold in Ghana, bringing the company one step closer to the vision of becoming Africa’s leading producer of chocolate and other cocoa products.
5.6 million school children to benefit from CSR initiative
Mr Poku continues, “Thanks to the FMO’s loan, we are getting ready to produce and bottle shelf-stable, fortified chocolate milk in PET for Ghanaian school children on a daily basis under the country’s recently launched ‘Ghana School Feeding Programme’. We are planning to serve approximately 5.6 million children across 261 districts in a total of 9,350 schools, both primary and secondary, on 100 school days per year. With this programme, we want to provide a healthy, nutritional alternative to our people.”
“We decided to partner with Sidel on this project because of our shared passion for uncompromising food and beverage quality,” says Mr Poku. “What set Niche Cocoa apart on the market is our clear focus on top-quality products, combined with the flexibility to fit consumers’ needs while valuing organic, regional cocoa processing,” he adds. The company’s commitment is strengthened by the certifications they have obtained from a wide array of organisations, including FSSC 22000, UTZ, Fair Trade, Organic and FDA as well as the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).
Absolute food safety addressed by a complete aseptic PET solution
“During Niche’s selection of a packaging machinery supplier, Sidel’s long-standing experience in aseptic PET applications and packaging played a key role in our decision. Their dedicated local sales force and after-sales service capabilities as well as the technical expertise that were evident in our business discussions simplified the choice. These latter elements, especially, helped our technical team build trust in Sidel. Their buy-in was decisive for the rest of the staff at Niche Cocoa,” highlights Mr Poku.
Ultimately, Niche Cocoa opted for a low-speed (16,000 bottles per hour) aseptic PET complete solution, which integrates Tetra Pak Processing Systems technologies and the Sidel Aseptic Combi Predis with dry preform and cap sterilisation systems, two units of Gebo OptiDry®, a sleeve labeller, a VersaFilm® Access shrink-wrapping system, and finally a stretch wrapper. Also included in Niche’s scope is Sidel’s EIT® (Efficiency Improvement Tool), a market-leading data acquisition and plant intelligence system supporting beverage companies in decreasing unplanned downtime, reducing waste and costs, and increasing factory output.
Sidel’s aseptic dry preform sterilisation technology – known as Predis – offers food safety and simplicity at the utmost. It perfectly supports the brand promise around product quality. Mr Poku adds, “We strongly believe in the environmental credentials of PET, its 100% recyclability, its affordability, its lightweight potential, and the dramatic savings in water usage and chemicals consumption made possible by Predis. Its ease of operation was very attractive to us as well, since this is our first foray into the beverage industry and the first time we will manage an aseptic packaging process.”
With 180 references installed worldwide, Sidel’s Aseptic Combi Predis is a well-proven concept that received U.S. FDA validation back in 2017 – an industry-first. Since its launch, it has successfully decontaminated more than 60 billion bottles globally while saving over 10 billion litres of water and 60,000 tons of PET.
“No other shelf-stable chocolate milk produced in Ghana is aseptically filled in PET bottles. Niche have always been an innovation-driven company with a regional focus, so opting for Sidel technology is an investment that reconfirms our values,” says Mr Poku.