Raising the bar …local chocolate company finds its stride in midst of pandemic

Raising the bar …local chocolate company finds its stride in midst of pandemic
22/10/2020 TTFCC-Shop
The company, which was founded by Ashley Parasram, has proven that with ingenuity, skill and sheer determination, local chocolate can stand up to the best of the best on the international market. Its high-quality chocolates—honeycomb dipped in dark chocolate, salted cashews covered in chocolate, and white chocolate bars with cranberry are exotic and test the limits of their chocolatiers’ imagination. But their latest creation has been kept under wraps…until now.


Parasram gave the Express a sneak peek into his award-winning company’s new Trinitario choco­late sauces ahead of the formal launch in November. Each chocolate sauce has its own distinct taste; there is the coffee-flavoured sauce and another with a hint of bitters.


The company is not only busy expanding its line of products, TTFCC is also collabora­ting with other local and international clients.


Parasram is determined to press on in the midst of the pandemic. Navigating the business through a worldwide health crisis called for the right expertise, said Parasram, and so an advisory team was created to ensure they were able to address the challenges ahead.


The company began exploring new markets on the local scene as it made the shift from tourism and hospitality to industrial and retail.


“The last five/six months have really been about re-engineering, refocusing and retooling our business, and that is our priority for the time being,”said Parasam.


Packaging has been essential to achie­ving this, working closely with the Hyline Label Company, they were able to develop new product packaging quickly rather than purchasing overseas; this saved time and cost.


The flip side to Covid-19 is a lot of people have been forced to make their purchases online, which means that consumers, even those who may have been reluctant before, can now engage with sources directly. More people going online means TTFCC can have a more global reach; the company is partnering with DHL as they look into shipments to Canada and the US.


Becoming thick-skinned


The pandemic has in fact accelerated what was already coming, says TTFCC’s business development manager, Michael Ballmann.


“People want the Amazon experience of click and it’s at your door. Most of what we’re doing now as a company is selling online and selling to restaurants and gourmet shops who are ordering online or over the phone. It’s a trend that has been accelerating because of Covid, and it will continue after Covid,” he said.


The pandemic has tested the company considerably and will continue to do so, but Parasram adds that the company has been tested from the outset.


“We had to build a factory from scratch, and had to work around all the challenges and build a shop from scratch as well. I think we were quite thick-skinned when the pandemic came around. The pandemic has allowed us to pause and think through more strategically about our business model,” he said.


Whenever the end of the health crisis comes, TTFCC will be supplying from a stronger position than they were before the pandemic, said Ballmann.


Currently, TTFCC is partnering with the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre and Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel. It is also developing three new chocolates for the British department store Harrods that will be unveiled next year at the opening of Harrods’ new Chocolate Hall. Additionally, the company has collaborated with Angostura Ltd on a new product.


TTFCC’s flagship store, The Chocolate Box, located at the Hilton hotel, is open for in-store purchases. Those interested in ordering online can do so through Planting Seeds’ home delivery service and via TTFCC’s website (www.ttfinecocoa.com).


Parasram and his team are always on the lookout for new ideas. Anyone with suggestions on interesting flavours they would like to see paired with chocolate can send a message to the Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company on Facebook or Instagram.