GHANA – Ghana’s largest private cocoa processing company, Niche Cocoa, is seeking to expand its footprints through an investment in a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, USA.

Under the investment, Niche is leasing an existing 44,000-square foot building where they will hire 24 employees to process approximately 1,200 containers of Ghana-imported cocoa cake each year.

The raw materials will be turned into cocoa powder, finished chocolate and cocoa liquor which will be sold to other manufacturing facilities undertaking processing of chocolate, ice cream and baked foods.

The project will be the largest food and beverage investment by an Africa-based company in US history and the largest Ghana foreign direct investment ever in Wisconsin.

“Niche Cocoa’s historic investment in Wisconsin is an unmistakable signal to other companies across Africa and around the world — the United States is open for business,” said Marisa Lago, the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Niche Cocoa’s North American expansion pioneers a change in the direction of African investment and showcases the rapid growth in African businesses, specifically in Ghana.

“Niche Cocoa Industries Limited has established itself as a formidable business in Ghana and with some international customers mainly from extracting high-quality semi-finished products from the cocoa bean,” said Niche founder Edmund Poku.

He further highlighted that the US became a natural choice for expansion, given the market size and potential, to develop both semi-finished products and also selling more products up the value chain such as chocolates.

The investment has availed market for cocoa from the world’s second largest produced, Ghana, enabling the West African country to accrue more value from the US$100 billion industry.

“Taking into account proximity to customers, logistics, high-quality human capital, and a business-friendly environment, Wisconsin was a great choice.

“We know how to build factories so we could do that anywhere but the partnership between what we know how to do and what Wisconsin can offer Niche to succeed in our next chapter is what has brought us to the state,” Poku said.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the state’s lead economic development organization, assisted in the recruitment of Niche Cocoa and is pleased to welcome them into the state’s food and beverage manufacturing cluster.

“The food and beverage sector is one of our state’s economic drivers,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “Niche Cocoa’s decision to locate here complements our existing businesses and opens new possibilities for collaboration in the supply chain.”

Niche Cocoa is partnering with The Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, a Milwaukee-based company that pioneered production of world-class, single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate manufactured in Ghana.

Omahene’s founder, Steve Wallace, said, “Together, we’re creating cocoa products and compelling employment in both the US, and Ghana.

“We’re proving that a country’s competitive advantages, paired with strategic global partnerships, lead to winning outcomes in unexpected places. Together, Omanhene and Niche demonstrate the promise of a new globalism where international trade creates jobs and value instead of exploiting vulnerabilities.”

In its home country, Niche has an installed cocoa processing capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes of semi-finished products and 10,000 tonnes of confectionery per year.

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