How Chocolate Is Sweetening Ecuador's Economy

Feb 14, 2013

There's a chocolatier in Quito, Ecuador, who is trying to sweeten the economic history of South America.

Santiago Peralta of Ecuador's Pacari Chocolate brings his sweet treats into the WLRN-Miami Herald Studios.
Credit WLRN Staff

Santiago Peralta was tired of watching his country's prized cacao beans being shipped around the world so others could create prize-winning chocolate.

He was also weary of the low wages that simply exporting raw goods produced in his country.

So he had an idea. Start his own chocolate-making company and send ready-made Ecuadorian chocolate bars around the world instead.

In 2008, with his wife, Carla Barboto, that idea  became a reality and his Pacari Chocolate is now in 27 countries.

His father-in-law helped create some of his first chocolate-making equipment.

But Peralta wanted more than to compete in the world market.

He wanted to improve the lives of low-wage cacao growers as well.

"We are intimately connected to cacao farmers and their needs and we work with them to help them improve cacao yields, in implementing programs and biodynamic certification, even creating a school of organic agriculture," says Peralta.

Last year, Pacari Chocolate won 21 prizes in the International Chocolate Awards.

Peralta says his "bean to bar" products should be available in some U.S. east coast specialty grocery stores by the end of the year and are available for order online now.