Olam Cocoa has announced the launch of a new division called Twenty Degrees, which will source premium quality cacao beans from around the world and supply them to craft chocolate manufacturers.

Twenty Degrees – named after the cacao belt which ranges twenty degrees north and south of the equator – aims to respond to the demand in the premium chocolate market by bringing speciality cacao to craft chocolate makers.

The business will source beans from ten unique regions, each hand-picked for their distinctive flavour and sensory profile. This includes cacao grown in the highland Simbu region of Papua New Guinea and the indigenous Esperara community in Ecuador’s coastal rainforest, accessible only by boat.

Olam’s new unit hopes to offer opportunities for farmers by bringing their single origin cacao beans to market that are either too specialist or too remote to be sold to mainstream manufacturers, as well as provide customers with new levels of transparency.

The Twenty Degrees business model intends to help farmers adopt sustainable farming practices, as well as invest in the growth and security of the communities. A team of agronomists will work with each community to make sure the quality and flavour of its cacao meets the highest standards, developing protocols for growing, harvesting, drying and fermenting.

The speciality cacao business will be led by a new team that will utilise the expertise of Olam Cocoa and its flavour lab in the Netherlands. The Twenty Degrees range of premium cacaos beans is available now in the USA and Europe and can be delivered anywhere in the world.

Leopold Palmer, business head of Twenty Degrees, said: “We’re exploring new territories and discovering fresh terroirs in established growing regions, uncovering unique cacao beans farmed to the highest quality with the greatest possible positive impact. And we’re doing this in a way that is transparent, traceable and delivers quality, consistency and taste to meet the needs of craft chocolate makers.”

Gerard Manley, CEO of Olam Cocoa, added: “With Twenty Degrees, we are combining our knowledge of cocoa farming and our capability to source from distant and often remote communities with a greater focus on flavour differentiation. It will leverage our existing presence to drive sustainable farming practices and support livelihoods as part of Cocoa Compass, our sustainability ambition for the future of the industry.”