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. Today, Niche Cocoa are the fastest-rising local cocoa processor in the country. 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 Edmund, the company’s Managing Director says, “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.”

Niche Cocoa’s long-term vision: Expansion to other African countries

The ‘Ghana School Feeding Programme’ is a one-of-a-kind project that involves making healthy products easily available to the younger generation within Ghana. Mary Marshall, Confectionery Operations Manager at Niche Cocoa, explains where this journey could take the company: “We constructed a new facility to house this compact, aseptic complete line. We expect this initiative to achieve measurable success by the end of 2021, after which point we will consider to install similar lines in other countries.”

For the company’s Managing Director the sky is the limit: “Our mid-term goal is not only to serve school children in Ghana, but to sell our products to everyone in the country, while our long-term strategy includes expanding to other African countries, such as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast. People’s health and good nutrition practices are what we seek to defend, within our own borders and beyond.”

Absolute food safety addressed by a complete aseptic PET solution

Niche Cocoa opted for a low-speed (16,000bph) 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.

 “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. 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.

Attractive and convenient PET packaging for young consumers For their RTD chocolate milk, Niche opted for a sleek, transparent, 250 ml PET bottle, enhanced by wavy ribs that gently envelop the body of the container. This original design is intended to evoke the idea of mouth-watering ripples created by pouring chocolate into a cup of milk. This same motif will be reflected on the full-sleeve label, thereby capturing the target audience’s attention even before they taste the drink.

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