Dominican Cocoa Company’s Success Supports Thriving Local Economy

Biofcacao is a growing cocoa processing and export company nestled in the hilly Dominican town of Villa Altagracia. The company draws on local producers and is an important driver of the local economy.

Biofcacao has been around since 1998. In the last few years, the company has earned several international certifications to respond to increased global demand for Dominican cocoa. These certifications include Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, USDA Organic, HACCP, and OKO-GARANTIE. Between 2017 and 2020, Biofcacao exported an average of 8,673 metric tons of cocoa per year (a nearly 20% annual growth rate) and did $20,800 in annual sales.

This success led the company to a further challenge, and one that many small and medium enterprises aspire to have: how to grow capacity sufficiently to meet demand.

Biofcacao has demonstrated strong business management capabilities, but the company’s processing equipment was holding them back. Cocoa is fermented in specially designed wooden boxes, and Biofcacao’s boxes were outdated and couldn’t handle larger quantities of cocoa beans that must be rotated during fermentation. The company struggled to fill client orders and was suffering from quality issues.

Installation of Biofcacao’s new 
cocoa fermentation boxes.

Chief Financial Officer Salvador Montilla, who has been with the company for 16 years, heard about an ongoing opportunity for in-kind equipment donations from the USDA-funded Exporting Quality program. Biofcacao was a perfect candidate for this opportunity.

As soon as the Biofcacao grant application was approved, the Exporting Quality team got to work to facilitate procurement of the equipment they needed. Within a month, Biofcacao was installing new efficient fermentation boxes.

“There’s much to gain, not only for our company, but also for our community,” said Montilla. The new equipment improved Biofcacao’s quality and capacity, doubling its volume of exported cocoa. And with the corresponding increase in demand for raw cocoa, Biofcacao’s success also helps the local cocoa producers who supply the company. “The fact that local producers trust us is a very significant asset. If our operation volume increases, it energizes the economy for the communities nearby.

Exporting Quality in the Dominican Republic, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture ‘Food for Progress’ initiative and implemented by IESC, focuses its efforts on increasing productivity and sales for domestic and export markets of high-value fruit and vegetable global value chains: avocado, cocoa, pineapple, and greenhouse and Asian vegetables. The program also supports efforts to increase product quality, production efficiency, the value of post-harvest products, and to improve marketing and market linkages.