SANTIAGO PERALTA

Ecuador 2020 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Santiago Peralta, General Manager of Pacari, on the Pacific Alliance, cacao production, and long-term investment.

Santiago Peralta
BIOGRAPHY

Santiago Peralta, who hails from the city of Cuenca, is Pacari's CEO. In 2013, he was named Outstanding Chocolate Maker by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, the first time a Latin American received this award. Following family tradition, he studied law, but his iconoclastic nature and independent personality soon led him to develop a forward-looking business model, aligning responsible consumption and environmentally friendly practices that is Pacari Chocolate.

Ecuador is joining the Pacific Alliance with countries that are also chocolate producers. How is this expected to affect Pacari and the sector in Ecuador?

We are finally joining these markets, which will allow us to be on par with our neighbors. In this context, we need to showcase our chocolate and its advantages. In Latin America, Ecuador is definitely the country of chocolate. All Ecuadorians take chocolate abroad, so Pacari goes everywhere. When people try it, they want to know more about it. The positioning is done by word of mouth recommendations. Ecuador has around 70% of the genetic bank of all cacao species, so the association of Ecuador with the idea of excellent chocolate producer is a matter of time. We are already well known in Colombia, for example.

How has Pacari's chocolate been recognized internationally, and what has been key to this recognition?

Pacari has been recognized at the International Chocolate Awards in blind tastings performed by 25,000 people. In these tastings, there are many chocolates from around the world, and in total we have around 300 awards. Around 85% of the cocoa in the world comes from farmers who earn less than USD25 per family each month. We pay higher, and that is one of our secrets. When we started, when someone in Europe sold 1kg of cocoa, its price was EUR130. Here, it costs USD1. It was 130 times less, so we decided to pay triple. The farmer started taking care of the cacao, and the Ecuadorian cacao that was believed to be extinct started to resurface. We improved the quality by investing in a long term. Due to that long-term planning, eight years later we were winning awards, and our quality has not fallen since then. Our secret is fairness and taking care of our providers. We motivate farmers to do the best job possible.