They say good things take time. This is definitely the case with my startup Pacha de Cacao! Wow – we have come from far! The idea to make a juice from cacao pulp did not just come to me by some magic epiphany. It was farmers wisdom.
I have been working in the cacao and chocolate sector since 2014, specialising in the field of sustainability.
My role was to support cacao companies to make that very important transition from being a-not-so-sustainable company, to be a company who really sees its own impact and role in the value chain, and sees the value of being a sustainable business going beyond profit. I help them to build a stronger foundation, based on a vision and ambitions which are unique to the company. Together, we find a way through the options, and support them to just get started. Little by little.
In 2017, I was in Ecuador for a project. It was an extremely hot day that day. I was in the northern province of Esmeralda’s speaking to a farmer about the harvest that year. Like many farmers, he was a proud man and connected to his land. I, on the other hand, was far less comfortable. The heat in combination with dehydration got to me. As I leaned on a tree, he reached out to a branch and plucked a cacao pod loose. With one blow to the pod he opened it and told me to eat the pulp. “It gives good energy”, he said. After a while we continued, but the pulp was stuck in my head. The whole road back I was thinking: “How could we have missed this?”.
That’s how it started in 2017. And now, on 1 December 2020, we are officially making and selling a juice made from the pulp. So, it took me 3 years to figure it out. I wonder: if I would have known at that time what would be coming my way, would I have done it? Well, probably yes, but I’m happy still that I did not know of all the fires that I’m putting down, almost every day, for such a long time.
It’s really time to tell people an uplifting story about cacao. Yes, of course there are many issues in the supply chains, but these are not happening everywhere, and it’s certainly not the only thing we need to hear! What about the millions of farmers who are proud, connected, who learned this from their fathers, who learned it in turn from their fathers. What about the traditions, and the cultural meaning, and all the beautiful nutrients that are in the cacao beans and pulp? What about those?
Pacha de Cacao celebrates an ancient farmer tradition of using the pulp to get ‘good energy’. The visuals of Pacha are positive and uplifting. They are inspired by indigenous patterns and giving the colourful vibes of the Amazon rainforest. It draws people into an exotic world, in a modern and elegant interpretation. It really does give a slow boost of positive energy. Just like what the Ecuadorian farmer told me back then.