We’ve lost a few local chocolate soldiers over the past few years (a humble moment of silence for Chocolate Log) but hope is on the horizon thanks to a new locally produced chocolate, Coco Bongo.
Richester Foods prides itself on the new chocolate delight with two powerful points beyond chocolatey goodness: Firstly, it’s 100% locally made, and secondly, it’s on sale for less than half the price of many competing international brands.
The result of a R20 million investment in new chocolate manufacturing facilities near Pretoria, Coco Bongo first hit shelves nationwide in January this year. Developed in consultation with international chocolate masters from Switzerland, and extensive research and development into flavour, taste and texture creating a product that appeals to kids and adults alike. Coco Bongo features smooth milk chocolate with a creamy centre, which combined with its compelling R2.50 price tag has seen the treat gain rapid popularity, selling over half a million bars in just four months.
According to Richester Foods Managing Director, Dr Hussein Cassim, Coco Bongo aims to offer a pocket-friendly, competitive local alternative to increasingly expensive international brands.
“With rising costs of living, we noticed a widening gap in the market for good quality chocolates at affordable prices – especially as overseas companies continue leveraging the power of their brands to charge exorbitant prices for quicker returns on investment,” he says.
“By contrast, our motto is to serve customers the best quality products possible at affordable prices and build our brands over time. We first want to tempt customers’ pockets, and when they taste the quality of our products, we believe that they will return for repeat purchases without question.”
As a sweet manufacturer, Richester Foods largely serves distributors, wholesalers, and resellers, and Cassim notes that the R2.50 price tag incorporates added value and profits for businesses, spaza shops or small vendors selling to consumers.
As the first chocolate in its product portfolio, Coco Bongo represents a new milestone in Richester Foods’ Africa-first strategy and the organisation’s specific focus on supporting South African value chains and markets. Aside from the cocoa, which is primarily bought from sustainable growers elsewhere in Africa, all other ingredients are locally sourced.
Beyond moving away from international suppliers, Cassim says that Richester Foods wants to play a meaningful role in job creation.
Unlike other chocolate producers who buy chocolate slabs from suppliers which are then melted into bars, Coco Bongo is made from scratch in the kitchens at Richester Foods’ new custom-built factory in Centurion. The newly formed chocolate division created employment in this sector and alone currently employs 50 full-time staff, and boasts in-house chillers and cold storage facilities, as well as state-of-the-art laboratories for product testing.
While the factory already produces eight million chocolates each month, Richester Foods aims to expand its production capacity to 20 million chocolate bars per month over the next two years, adding another 150 staff to its operations, take that Willy Wonka!
Picture: Richester Foods