Peruvian chocolate company, Orquidea Chocolates, is set to launch a new line of dark chocolate bars in Europe and the United States. The line made its debut at Salon du Chocolat in Paris last October and followed with its first U.S. introduction at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in January.

“Using native cacao provides a special flavor to the chocolate,” said Commercial Manager, Carla Cisneros Zuñiga. General Manager, Ricardo Noriega, added that it’s the distinct flavor of fruits and nuts.

Handmade from Amazonian cacao produced in the Region of San Martin, Orquidea Chocolates was created as a result of the Industrias Mayo S.A. project to cultivate cacao as an alternative crop to coca. This project was initiated in an effort to sustainably develop the region in the Peruvian Amazon jungle. Orquidea Chocolates are the first Peruvian chocolates to be made at the source of the cacao.

The new dark chocolate line features seven flavors ranging from 65 to 72 percent cacao. These include Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Fondant, Dark Chocolate with Quinoa, Dark Chocolate with Coconut, Dark Chocolate with Coffee, Dark Chocolate with Nibs and Dark Chocolate with Kiwicha (Amaranth).

Social responsibility is a priority for Orquidea Chocolates. The company works with approximately 110 farmers from five different communities some of whom have cultivated cacao for decades. Orquidea provides counsel on agriculture practices and harvest management, a collaborative effort that promotes sustainable development and improves performance standards for the production of premium quality cacao. Providing farmers with technical training and increasing awareness of environmental conservation through Organic and Fair Choice certifications leads to better land care, increased crop yield, fare wages and sustainable income.

Cacao farmers working with Orquidea Chocolates have a connection to the product from start to finish.  Few producers of such high quality cacao have the opportunity to see the final results of their labor, but because Orquidea is produced in the region where the cacao is grown, the farmers are involved in the process from bean to bar. With the launch of the dark chocolate line and its international reach, the community also has the opportunity to impact the world with their work. This creates a sense of pride and enthusiasm that comes through in the quality of the chocolate.

Orquidea Chocolates has organic certification for both the national and international markets. They comply with program requirements for Reglamento Técnico para los Productos Orgánicos – Perú, the U.S. National Organic Program, European Union Organic Farming, the Japanese Agricultural Standard and the Control Union Fair Choice – Social and Fair Trade Standard. Three varieties of the dark chocolate bars are certified organic for all ingredients. Four contain organic cacao with plans to source and use all certified organic ingredients in the coming months.

In addition to the new dark chocolates, Orquidea currently produces a milk chocolate line as well as specialty premium chocolate for pastry and baking. All products are free of cocoa powder and hydrogenated vegetable fat.

What’s next for Orquidea? Even darker varieties, according to Noriega. The company is currently working on products with 80 to 85% cacao and will be exhibiting under the Peruvian –Promperu pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food Show June 29-July 1.