Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate Micro-Factory
Beans are serious business at Xocalatl, a small-batch chocolatier tucked away inside Atlanta’s famed Krog Street Market. In order to be deemed worthy of being turned into a chocolate bar, each cacao bean that arrives here (usually by way of East Africa or South America) must pass a rigorous inspection by the team. Such exacting standards result in a superb chocolate base for the bars, many of which are then further enhanced by creative flavor combinations. Take the Kissed Mermaids, for instance. This dark chocolate bar is composed of 60 percent cacao, along with coconut milk, a sprinkle of vanilla-infused sea salt and cacao nibs for added crunch. Apple pie was the inspiration for the Americana bar, which features nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice flavors, along with 68 percent cacao.
Confectionery remains one of the most fiercely competitive of fast-moving consumer goods sectors with multinational-owned brands fighting tooth and nail to gain shelf stand out.
But consumers have changed and the foodie movement is now obsessed with origins.
There was a time when legendary Belgian and Swiss chocolate brands such as Godiva and Lindt were the very last words in luxury confectionery.
Nowadays, however, these famous brands have almost become mainstream as the growth in the luxury confectionery sector has ushered in a wave of higher-priced premium, gourmet chocolate brands such as Duffy’s, Amelia Rope, Seed & Bean, Hotel Chocolat, The Grown Up Chocolate Company and Montezuma’s, that differentiate and distinguish themselves with their high-percentage cocoa content, Fairtrade status, ethical sourcing, distinct provenances, exotic flavours and organic ingredients.
Look closer and you’ll soon notice that one thing all these bean-to-bar chocolate brands have in common (apart from their love for ethically sourced chocolate) is their strategic use of highly distinctive and visually striking packaging to carve out a small, but growing niche of this enormous business.
Another small-batch chocolate brand making waves in the US is Xocolatl(named after the bitter cacao bean-based drink once consumed by the Aztecs). Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Xocolatl (abbreviated as XOATL) is made from just two ingredients: single-origin Peruvian cacao and organic cane sugar.
Local agency Juku Design has created colourful packaging for the start-up brand, which cleverly weaves in Aztec-inspired patterns with playful, child-like drawings of Atlanta where the chocolate is made.
Other Juku designs for the Xocolatl range feature stylised depictions of the cocoa tree which is so important for the brand’s owners, while another clever touch sees the last three letters of the abbreviated name XOATL highlighted as ‘ATL’ is the well-known airport code for Atlanta.
At Hunter we understand the changing nature of the confectionery market in mature markets. At a time when products containing a high percentage of sugar are increasingly demonised, the highest rates of growth for the industry are likely to come at the premium and the luxury end of the market where hand-crafted credentials, ethical standards, high-quality ingredients and on-trend packaging designs are all essential attributes.
Paul Hamilton is a director at Hunter Sourcing
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