Retail

Forteza expands line of fine chocolate products; bets on local cocoa bean harvest

Eduardo Cortés, vice president of Chocolate Cortés and founder of the Forteza brand.

Motivated by a strong growth in sales, Forteza Caribbean Chocolate announced the expansion of the offer of flavors that make up the line of fine chocolate bars Forteza One Bar, supported by an aggressive strategy to increase the cultivation of cocoa beans in Puerto Rico to meet the local and international demand.

“Our intention with Forteza is to become an internationally recognized brand of fine chocolate. Forteza’s growth of is equivalent to the development of the cocoa bean cultivation and processing industry in Puerto Rico,” said the Vice President of Chocolate Cortés and founder of the brand, Eduardo Cortés.

According to Cortés, to achieve the imposed goal, the company has developed innovative strategies to boost Forteza’s production, distribution and marketing.

The sales of Forteza, brand of the company Chocolate Cortés, have experienced a growth of 10 percent since the launch of the One Bar line, which features five flavor varieties: Sea Salt, Salted Almond Crunch, Spicy Caramel, Dark Coconut, and Milk Chocolate.

The cocoa beans used to produce these bars comes mostly from Puerto Rico, where Cortés has farmers harvesting the beans in Maricao, Aguada, San Sebastián, Ciales, and Añasco. Production takes place at the company’s Hato Rey plant.

Meanwhile, the number of points of sale has increased by 200 percent — to 100 spots, including retail locations in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and New York — something that Cortés attributed to the effort of the sales force and that the product appeals to a larger segment of the chocolate consumer market.

“We’re working hard to expand the distribution of the product and thus make it available through the main chains on the island,” he said, mentioning that the Forteza One Bar has also opened new opportunities, especially in the tourism retail sector.

Cortés explained that to mitigate the impact of Hurricane María and to increase the supply of cocoa, the company will be executing a plan to produce and distribute about 12,000 high-yield cocoa trees in 2019, with the support of the Puerto Rico Agriculture Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“With these new trees we plan to triple our supplies in a period of three to four years,” Cortés said.

The One Bar line features five flavor varieties: Sea Salt, Salted Almond Crunch, Spicy Caramel, Dark Coconut, and Milk Chocolate.

“At the moment, the demand for the local product is much higher than the market supply. Although this is an incipient industry, thanks to the union of purpose of our cocoa farmers and chocolate producers, we’re managing to promote a new local agro-industry,” he explained.

The purchase of local cocoa beans for to produce Forteza has grown by an average of 63.5 percent between 2015 and 2017. Had it not been for the passage of Hurricane Maria, this rate of growth would have remained uninterrupted, he said.

“Before María, we expected to maintain that growth rate but it was clearly affected by the hurricane. It is important to note that, even with these growth numbers in purchases of local cocoa beans from year to year, our demand for this raw material was and still is much greater than the available supply,” said Cortés.

The Forteza line of chocolate products launched in 2014, when cocoa bean production was virtually non-existent in Puerto Rico.

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