Lancashire chocolate factory goes into business with royalty

His Royal Majesty Oba Dokun Thompson Gureje IV and Queen Angelique-Monet of Eti-Oni
Image caption,His Royal Majesty Oba Dokun Thompson Gureje IV and Queen Angelique-Monet of Eti-Oni travelled from Nigeria

A Lancashire chocolate factory has gone into business with an African king and queen.

Beech’s Chocolates, in Preston, is making a new range with cocoa beans from Eti-Oni province in Nigeria.

The money made from the bars will go back into the province, which is home to Nigeria’s oldest cocoa plantation.

His Royal Majesty Oba Dokun Thompson Gureje IV and Queen Angelique-Monet visited Preston to launch the bars.

King Oba said his great-grandfather started the plantation in 1896.

“When we start seeing the proceeds from the chocolate, we know that we are on to something that will transform our community,” he said.

The Eti-Oni plantation
Image caption,The first cocoa trees were planted by Gureje I, the great great grandfather of the present king

Over 90% of Eti-Oni’s people are cocoa farmers, working in an industry worth $130bn (£102bn) a year.

But the growers in Eti-Oni only receive a Fair Trade allowance on top of the price they sell the beans at.

The Whiting family, which owns Beech’s Confectionery Group, funded the start-up and development of the Gureje IV brand.

It is wholly-owned by the people of Eti-Oni, and all international sales of the bars will go into chocolate processing equipment and cocoa farming infrastructure there.

The Gureje IV brand
Image caption,The Gureje IV brand is wholly owned by the people of the province of Eti-Oni

Beech’s chairman Andrew Whiting said he first met King Oba at a chocolate convention in 2018.

He said the king had given a “very moving speech about the fact that they’d been growing cocoa beans for many years” and the idea of the chocolate range sprang from a conversation they had later.

“We had this idea that if we could produce a chocolate bar sold in the western markets, all the proceeds could go towards making the processing plant a reality,” he added.

Queen Angelique-Monet said launching the new chocolate is “going to be really exciting”.

“We’re creating a new culture at Eti-Oni,” she said. https://kasikan12.com/

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