The Nitty Gritty
Most Recent Visit by Taza: June, 2018
Number of Farmers: 1642
Number of Female Farmers: 751
Numbers of Hectares Certified Organic: 1024
Total Cacao Exported: 150 MT
Chocolate Maker Customers: 60
Awards Won: 11
Annual volume purchased by Taza: 25.2 metric tons
Average price paid by Taza*: $3,450 per metric ton
When we pulled into PISA’s cacao processing facility in June, I saw the new construction immediately. Two raised decks dried cacao where tall grass grew a year before, and a new, multi-story fermentation center towered above the old one. Inside the center rose four levels of wooden fermentation boxes, each with a capacity of 1 MT - enough cacao to make roughly 6,000 Taza Chocolate Amaze Bars. Workers hauling, raking, and bagging beans moved determinedly around us. The message was unmistakable - PISA was growing.
When Alex and I first visited in 2014, PISA was as much dream as reality. The cacao processing plant had less than half today’s fermentation capacity, and the drying decks were only partially built. We could count the workers around us on one hand. But what PISA lacked in size it made up for in ambition. Founding team members Gilbert, Max, Aline, Fenise and Chiquito intended to breath new life into a once robust cacao sector. They bet that by investing in quality, PISA and its farmer network could access higher paying markets and build Haiti’s reputation for fine flavored cacao.
In 2015, Taza was proud to become the first buyer of PISA’s exceptional cacao and bold vision. PISA welcomed the idea of Taza brokering its beans and growing its reputation among smaller craft chocolate makers as well. In 2016, a Canadian chocolate-makers’ bar made with PISA beans won Gold at the International Chocolate Awards. By 2017, PISA’s cacao had spread beyond North America to customers in Europe, Japan, and Australia, and chocolate made with the beans had won nearly a dozen awards across the globe.
Now, the PISA team wants to transform its hard-earned craft acclaim into larger orders from the broader chocolate market. Turning a profit in a difficult business environment like Haiti’s requires equal parts strategic vision and operational scale. When we first met Gilbert, PISA’s Senior VP, he told us, “When I look around me here, one of my dreams is to see cacao all over, to see that the northern part of Haiti is smiling more, because they’re proud.” In the new construction and hard work I observed this summer, Gilbert’s dream is coming to life.
*Price Paid by Taza is on FOB terms and equal to the negotiated fixed price or to the negotiated premium plus the world market price on the day the contract is closed.