De Mendes and CBKK team up to scale up chocolate production

CBKK S/A, a new company focused on investments that translate into socioeconomic and environmental impacts at the origin, led by businessman Stefano Arnhold (ex TecToy), announced an agreement and association with the chocolatier Amazonian Cesar De Mendes in the company Mendes chocolates.

The objective is to scale the production of the factory based in Pará, targeting the national and international market for fine and sustainable chocolates. De Mendes was already being sought by other investors, but there was no synergy found now with CBKK.

“This negotiation started more or less in August, and the importance of this relationship is mainly due to the expansion of what we already do. We are going to intensify the social and environmental impacts, which has always been a major focus of our company. Today we have a direct impact on around 3,500 people and on 300,000 hectares of forest. This pleases us, but at the same time bothers us, because there is so much to do. The Amazon is a giant region. The depredation of the forest happens at a high speed, we need to have answers. And the expansion of De Mendes' scale of action with the arrival of CBKK helps with that,” says César De Mendes.

The association brings an ambitious goal: to directly impact 50,000 people and contribute to the conservation of at least 1 million hectares of forest by 2025.

Marcello Brito, ex-Agropalma and now CEO of CBKK S/A, highlights that the association is the sum of a lot of market knowledge with forest and cocoa knowledge that only the chocolatier It has.

“After 25 years of work in Pará and in the Amazon in general, I realize that the Amazon is a place that has everything but, at the same time, it needs to resolve legal processes. In the case of De Mendes, we are adjusting all the legislation, plant regularization, application of good manufacturing practices, implementation of blockchain production control and traceability systems for all cocoa, and a carbon calculation system for we mitigate the emissions of the entire operation,” defines Brito.

The CEO of CBKK also highlights the intention of moderate scale due to the profile of the business, a factory for the production of fine chocolates. “What we are going to do is use all our skills to seek out consumers who value this type of product, in Brazil and abroad. If we grow too much, we will already have to use planted cocoa, and we will be just one more producer competing with the giants. We want to keep the spirit of the business, to be the chocolate producer that has this specificity of working with indigenous communities, quilombolas and small producers. ”

De Mendes highlights the importance of accumulating experience to consolidate this association: “What we are today is the sum of everything we have already done. Having participated in the PPA Acceleration Program was excellent in this process. Through connections, through shared knowledge. It was very important for us to mature as a business, to understand our role and to be able to see ourselves as a sustainable business. ”

“We are very happy with the celebration of the partnership between De Mendes and CBKK, because our main objective with the Acceleration Program is to help the startups to develop and attract investments,” declares Mariano Cenamo, director of new businesses at Idesam and coordinator of the Acceleration Program at PPA. “Without a doubt, De Mendes is taking an important step in its journey, and we are certain that the company will have significant growth in its capacity to generate a positive social and environmental impact in the Amazon.” 

Integration of new Amazonian communities

De Mendes currently works in partnership with around 32 communities and with five cocoa pre-processing bases. The association with CBKK will allow the work with other indigenous territories, quilombolas and riverside dwellers.

Among the partners that will soon join the process are the Suruí, Ashaninca and Huni Kuin (Kaxinawá) Indians. Riverside communities in Amapá, close to Mazagão, too. Through a partnership with the Orsa and Jari Foundations, the work will extend to the surroundings of the Jari River.

De Mendes has had a relationship with a community in the Jari region since 2014, when he discovered a unique, unlisted variety of cocoa that gives rise to one of the chocolate bars produced by the company today.

“These regions were not chosen randomly. Indigenous communities have come to us. We have about 20 indigenous communities in the state of Amazonas, in the Maturacá region, to visit. The Indians have a great knowledge of the forest and also the mobility in their territories. They are excellent partners in the search for cocoa. We are so lucky that these communities look to us for partnerships, and with the alliance with CBKK, we will be able to advance a lot in this direction”, he says.

With the covid-19 pandemic, the chocolatier works on the design and assembly of an audiovisual tutorial on cocoa pre-processing training, which he usually performs with the communities in person. There will be online support and, as soon as possible, visits will be scheduled in loco. This process will allow for the expansion of the number of assisted communities.

CBKK has ambitious goals to impact the origin of business

Composed of executives or businessmen who in their trajectories were touched at some point by the Amazon, CBKK S/A has among its members people who worked in systems that sought a choice of environmental, social or socio-environmental sustainability.

Marcello Brito, the company's CEO, comes from the agribusiness area, having worked for 25 years in Pará, and participated in several multi-stakeholder initiatives in Brazil and abroad.

All CBKK members are also Conservation International in Brazil advisors. And from this action came the concern to act to boost the socio-biodiversity economy in the region.

“We have a challenge ahead of us: participate in 100 to 120 deals from now until December 2030. Small businesses, in which we can have 50%, 10%, 5% of participation, or have no participation at all, but be a service provider. Or an intermediary with philanthropy. It doesn't mean being a partner in all these businesses, but having a link with them, strengthening them,” defines Brito. To get on CBKK's radar, these businesses must also have an impact at the origin, in the communities.

“We have defined a region for this: the Amazon biome, coastal regions with mangroves or investments 'in water' – for example, the development of algae farms in communities located on the Brazilian coast. ”

CBKK is also partnering with a company linked to agroforestry systems, with extensive experience in Brazil and abroad, with the expectation that the supported businesses will have the concept of agroforestry system around them.

“It is a model that has not yet been explored, we have a lot to learn in terms of knowledge, plant health, root interaction between plants, nutritional interaction. But this is the future of modern agriculture,” ponders Brito. “Nothing against soy, corn, rice, which are part of the bioeconomic process. But what else can we do besides the traditional bioeconomy to generate something different for the Amazon? Time is running out and we are losing the war there, and losing seven to zero. ”

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