Expanding Guatemalan Artisanal Chocolate Business

edited March 2019 in Food

This December I had the privilege of meeting Angelica & Elena in San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala--they founded a successful small-scale artisanal chocolate business seven years ago but aren't sure how to take the next step in their expansion.

Employing nearly a dozen people for the six cooler months of the year, they produce several thousand bars of chocolate in a large variety of natural flavours, sweetened only with honey.

They currently distribute in Guatemala City and Antigua and locally in the towns of Panajachel and San Marcos, along with a few other places in the country. The local vendor keeps the majority of the profit per bar. They have had a small amount of publicity such as this TV story:

In San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala we found a group of women who decided to create their own chocolate factory. Angelica and Elena initiated the project on March 13, 2015. Angelica explains that now they have 25 flavours of chocolate bars.

Elena explains the process to make the chocolate: First the cocoa beans are heated 25 to 30 minutes. Afterwards the shell is peeled off and the beans go through a machine that produces the cream of cocoa. It is cooked with honey and skim milk. The chocolate is spread on a large table and left for 24 hours. The next day they create 17 flavours with milk and the rest without it. Then they are put on a butter paper to absorb the fat. Finally it is wrapped in their craft papers.

This work is done daily from 8 AM until 5 PM by a group of women. Each worker does a different chore, such as shopping, cleaning, organizing, etc. Elena is in charge of distributing to Antigua, Guatemala City, and different towns in the country.

Their dream is to be able to export the craft chocolate to countries outside Guatemala.

(Translation by Adriana Cormier)

Angelica & Elena want to grow their business to sell more chocolate to employ more people in their community. They would like assistance in exporting their product (if anyone can aid with this you can contact them through their Facebook page Faabricachocolate Petzey), though I encouraged them to focus on establishing a competitive business domestically first by focusing on branding and distribution before entering what I imagine is a more competitive and complex international market.

Please share your business growth brainstorming thoughts below.



  • edited February 2019

    I'm still brainstorming on this one, but here are some initial thoughts:

    Focus on becoming one of the top national brands (vs focusing on export)

    • Focus on what distinguishes you (natural, no sugar, flavour variety, handmade, community-building)
    • Focus on getting a few key distribution relationships setup with higher volume vendors in the main tourist destinations, and regions where your main local customer-type is concentrated

    Use this reputation to create export partnerships with a few select international vendors to start

    • Hire an export consultant to work out the laws and regulations
    • Try contacting not-for-profits and church organizations
    • Contact Amigos de Santa Cruz to discuss their experience as they ship wholesale handicraft orders worldwide
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