School Children in Ghana
10 June 2020

Sidel and Niche Cocoa team up for the School Feeding Program in Ghana

Aseptically packed | Niche Cocoa Industry Ltd., Ghana’s largest fully integrated cocoa processor, recently signed a deal with Sidel with the intention to advance into previously uncharted territory: beverage production. The company are planning to support Ghana’s School Feeding Programme by providing 5.6 million pupils with ready-to-drink (RTD) chocolate milk, aseptically packaged in 250 ml PET bottles, for 100 school days per year.

As one of Africa’s fastest growing economies in 2019, Ghana continues to perform well economically with the GDP expected to grow even further in 2020. The country’s economy is largely based on two export goods: gold and cocoa. In fact, Ghana is the world’s second biggest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast, with the world’s highest-quality bulk cocoa beans coming from the country.

Fastest-rising local cocoa processor in Ghana branches out to drinks

Niche Cocoa Industry Ltd. were founded in 2011 and currently manufacture high quality, semi-finished cocoa products for export, such as cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa cake and cocoa powder. In 2017, Niche commenced the production of chocolate for the local and international market.

Cocoa beans

Today, Niche Cocoa are the fastest-rising local cocoa processor in the country. Edmund A. Poku, the company’s Managing Director, explains, “With an installed processing capacity of 90,000 metric tons per year, an annual turnover of US$120 million and about 450 employees, we are excited about the opportunity to introduce the first and only locally produced and aseptically bottled chocolate milk in Ghana. Thanks to a loan from the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO in autumn 2019, Niche Cocoa were able to purchase manufacturing equipment from Sidel, which will allow us to produce chocolate drinks.” These products will be sold in Ghana, bringing the company one step closer to the vision of becoming Africa’s leading producer of chocolate and other cocoa products.

5.6 million school children to benefit from CSR initiative

Mr Poku continues, “Thanks to the FMO’s loan, we are getting ready to produce and bottle shelf-stable, fortified chocolate milk in PET for Ghanaian school children on a daily basis under the country’s recently launched ‘Ghana School Feeding Programme’. We are planning to serve approximately 5.6 million children across 261 districts in a total of 9,350 schools, both primary and secondary, on 100 school days per year. With this programme, we want to provide a healthy, nutritional alternative to our people.”

Edmund A. Poku, Managing Director of Niche Cocoa

“We decided to partner with Sidel on this project because of our shared passion for uncompromising food and beverage quality,” says Mr Poku.  

Absolute food safety addressed by a complete aseptic PET solution

“During Niche’s selection of a packaging machinery supplier, Sidel’s long-standing experience in aseptic PET applications and packaging played a key role in our decision.

Ultimately, Niche Cocoa opted for a low-speed (16,000 bottles per hour) aseptic PET complete solution, which integrates Tetra Pak Processing Systems technologies and the Sidel Aseptic Combi Predis with dry preform and cap sterilisation systems, two units of Gebo OptiDry®, a sleeve labeller, a VersaFilm® Access shrink-wrapping system, and finally a stretch wrapper. Also included in Niche’s scope is Sidel’s EIT® (Efficiency Improvement Tool), a market-leading data acquisition and plant intelligence system supporting beverage companies in decreasing unplanned downtime, reducing waste and costs, and increasing factory output.

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