Four of us (Sophi, Sonja, Tom and Sarah) from Divine made our way through the snow across Europe to visit the factory that makes Divine chocolate in Germany. The trains, tubes, planes and cars all worked remarkably well.
On our arrival our host enthusiastically took us to a German Christmas market. Lots of Weihnachtsstandl and bright lights. We had mugs of hot Glühwein which warmed us for a moment, but soon the cold triumphed and we went for dinner. Lots of yummy food and frothy beer. A world away from Ghana where the cocoa comes from.
We began early the next morning with a tour around the factory, 50km of pipes running around the building linking tanks to conching machines, finally being deposited through nozzles into moulds that go through chillers, get knocked out and then wrapped and boxed. They have a new warehouse 15metres high with very tall forklifts to reach the upper shelves.
We visited the New Product Development lab and met Uta who showed us how she makes prototype bars. It is very important to mix ingredients at different temperatures very well to ensure the perfect texture and no fissures in the bars. We left Tom in the lab to have a go at mixing chocolate while we went off to meet the team, and discuss the serious business of logistics, forecasting, contingency planning etc
Due to the inclement weather and the usual British surprise we had a container of chocolate locked in the port. Together we tried to solve the problem. The Germans couldn’t really understand why the UK had ground to a halt and why we don’t have winter tyres! We were pleased to show how many road and sea miles have been saved by shipping the chocolate direct to Hull where we warehouse the chocolate. They told us that the factory will convert to completely green energy by 2012. We have been using recycled card in all our products and we are exploring converting the wrappers too. They explained why this might be problematic.
We ended the day tasting some potential new chocolate bars, with fruity flavours and roasted cocoa nibs. Then we rushed off to the train to try and beat the weather. The next time we’ll be meeting up with the factory’s director will be at the Divine Board meeting at Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana.