Building a generational chocolate connection | Features Local

Montano’s Chocolate Co Ltd (MCCL) has launched the Montano’s Chocolate Factory, which will boost the manufacturing of its Machel Montano 60 per cent dark chocolate along with cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and cocoa nibs, taking on the global market.

The new chocolate facility, which is run by three generations of the Montano family, will now boost operations from 2,500 bags per month to 23,000 bags. The matriarch of the Montano family, Elizabeth Montano, said the capacity building will empower individuals, build communities and in the long term build the national economy.

“We have been fortunate to have used the pandemic time to advance and to develop our product. We have been producing our own chocolate we are doing cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, cocoa powder and we hope really to expand to the overseas market. In the Caricom area—Guyana, Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados. We have been working with ExportTT in terms of exporting the product. We have also had great interest coming out of Canada and coming out of the United States and some of those opportunities were developed when we went on missions abroad to Germany, Columbia and South Korea.

“This business is really made up of the three generations of the Montano family. My husband and I, our children Machel and Marcus and their wives are the second generation. Their children are the third generation and we involve them at all levels.

“Aside from taking my assistants when we go on missions, I also take my grandchildren. When we went to Columbia, I took my granddaughter Melody, who speaks Spanish fluently so she was able to be our interpreter. We have been to South Korea and I took my grandsons, so they are learning the business as well.

“We are also involved in online missions now that we are in a pandemic, so virtually we did Panama, Philadelphia and Atlanta and we have also been able to secure great interest in the chocolate. We have gained a lot of interest in our chocolates in Canada, United States and London and in the Latin American countries. We have started on a very small scale in New York and Canada. We don’t want it to reach a stage where we cannot supply the demand. At present we do 2,500 bars a month but with the factory, we would be able to do 14,000 a month,” Montano said.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee-Scoon said Montano’s Chocolate Factory has made a major transition in further developing the export of cocoa, cocoa beans and chocolate slabs. Procuring equipment for the Montano’s Chocolate Factory was a 50-50 partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

“The Ministry of Trade was able to give grant funding to the extent of $TT250,000 and they were able to match that for the purchase of machinery and equipment. This is a huge transition from what they were doing before because they had designed their labels, and their chocolates were being produced to specification but by the Alliance of Rural Communities so this is a big step forward as they get involved in the actual processing,” Gopee-Scoon said.

World class

Gopee-Scoon said the Montano’s Chocolate Factory is a world class facility. “I’m very pleased with what I am seeing in terms of the environment, the preparation site and the layout of machinery and equipment and I’m quite satisfied because this is a very professional undertaking where three generations are involved and that is really commendable,” Gopee-Scoon said.

Gopee-Scoon said the focus is on transforming the economy and ensuring that the non-energy sector expands. “At the end of the day what we want out of the cocoa industry is its further development. Normally we would export cocoa beans and large slabs of cocoa to Europe and other territories for the production of the final chocolate products. With this advancement, what we are now seeing from the export figures is that the export of the finished chocolate products is actually higher than what we have exported before in terms of cocoa beans and finished chocolate slabs,” Gopee-Scoon said.

Gopee-Scoon said the Chocolate Factory will now be able to widen their offerings. “I am quite pleased that at the end of the day they are not only advancing their manufacturing operations but they are going to be working with rural farmers so that they can bring in their cocoa beans and at the end of the day you can have the finished product produced by Montano’s Chocolate Factory and doing the process here also helps them to prepare other products for sale and widen their offerings,” Gopee-Scoon said.

Read Part 3 of Lady Elizabeth next week.

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