You are currently viewing Cordillera Chocolates draws on 100 years of cocoa experience to innovate for today’s health-conscious consumer

First and foremost, it has the product: premium cocoa, sustainably sourced from its own cocoa farms, and ethically processed in its five production facilities throughout Latin America. Its main factory is in Rionegro, just outside of Medellín, where the company was formed in 1920 by a small group of local cocoa producers.

Since 2010, the company says it has achieved a cumulative reduction of 48% of the tons of CO2 emitted in Colombia and its Rionegro facility boasts the biggest solar roof of any food company in Colombia, generating clean electrical energy and preventing 604 tons of CO2 from being released, the equivalent of planting a 40-hectare forest every year.

Nutresa’s robust sustainability strategy saw it being admitted in 2011 to the Dow Jones Global Sustainability Index and 10 years later it was recognized as the World’s Most Sustainable Food Company.

Natalie Quintero, Cordillera Global Marketing Director, says sustainability is also at the core of the company. “We are aiming for the prosperity of the cocoa farmers, the community and protecting the planet, aligned with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is our agenda.

We have the shortest supply chain globally, which allows us to reach the cocoa farmer very easily – and 90% of the price of beans go directly to the cocoa farmers.

We are investing in science and agri tech. We have reached over 22,000 cocoa farmers in our training programme for agricultural practices and business practices, and we keep connected with the farms via a mobile app.”

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We are working with communities and farmers to maintain peace in the county and encouraging farmers to plant cocoa rather than illicit plants, therefore building a better community, making a better society — Jorge León Gómez, Cordillera Chocolates Global Innovation Manager.

Daniela Zuluaga, Cordillera Global Brand Manager, says the company has more then 100 years of experience to draw on and chocolate making has been its made ingredient.

It started with chocolate and Nutresa is largest food conglomerate in Latin America with sales of $3bn a year … 60% of those sales are in Colombia​.

The Nutresa Group employs 45,000 people with 1,500 in its chocolate division. Zuluaga says its B2B business (Cordillera Chocolates) is also focusing on small entrepreneurs that have set up businesses at home, during the pandemic.

By 2030 the Group’s aim is to achieve sales of $3.5 Billion for its chocolate business, providing quality of life to the consumer with products that meet their aspirations for wellbeing, nutrition, and pleasure.

It estimates that sales will be 55% in Colombia and 45% internationally and its health and nutrition portfolio will cover 30% of total sales.

‘Cacao Fino de Aroma’

With new companies emerging and global markets opening up, the demand for ‘Cacao Fino de Aroma’ has never been higher and Cordillera Chocolates, the Group’s new name for its B2B business, is very much the go-to-brand for the industry seeking sustainable and quality products for their consumers.

Innovation is one of our core drivers​,” says Jorge León Gómez, Cordillera Chocolates Global Innovation Manager. “We have four innovation centres across the group and our NPD research department has state-of-the-art-technology to react swiftly to market trends and nutritional ingredients and healthy living trends​.

Not only is our cocoa sustainable – we are essentially a bean-to -bar company – we are working with communities and farmers to maintain peace in the county and encouraging farmers to plant cocoa rather than illicit plants, therefore building a better community, making a better society​.”

Gómez tells ConfectioneryNews that he works hand-in-hand with the R&D teams and marketing teams and commercial teams in order to identify opportunities in the market worldwide and the company’s strategical region.

What we’re doing right now is we’re developing three frameworks or three pillars in terms of innovation. The first and most important one is sugar-free because that’s the most important one in terms of not only chocolate but food in general – sugar-free and sugar substitutes is definitely a trend that is here to stay.”

“We are also currently looking at innovations based on macro trends of free-from all kinds of ingredients and also in plant-based, in which we’re working mostly in vegan options.

Gómez says Cordillera has been developing sugar-free chocolates for the past 10 years and has two types on the market – a compound chocolate and the other being real chocolate milk.

We are receiving constant feedback from clients, from our consumers, from our commercial teams, and what the market is saying is sugar-free is here to stay. So, we’ve been developing different kinds of chocolates with different kinds of sugar substitutes​.”


Gómez says the other two trends his team are working on is plant-based and dairy free.

In plant-based we are working right now on something that we encountered from our clients, in the market and actually in our competitors as well, and it’s that vegan is gaining a lot of force.

And what we understand now about plant-based is a responsibility, sustainability in terms of the planet in terms of not consuming animal-based products but trying to go more into a vegetable oils and substitutes in order to conserve the planet​.’

Cordillera’s research reveals that the trends are not down to demographics, or countries but are a global phenomenon.

Of course, every trend that happens there are early adopters and the entrepreneurs and chocolatiers opening new businesses, starting small in their kitchens at home. And they become influencers, who have gained a lot of attention in terms of these trends, particularly when they speak about healthier options in food and chocolate​,” says Gómez.

We have encountered very interesting data with current clients who work with Cordillera to create new products based on what the market is demanding and what the market is actually asking for is also healthier options in dairy free​.”

The free-from trend is actually very important. The market demands an alternative for milk. So we’ve also been working on substitutes for cow’s milk in order to create chocolates, extremely delicious and tasty, that have mouth feel but also have new experiences and explosions of flavours in a dairy-free product​. “


With its recyclable award-winning packaging recognised in the US in 2019 by the One Planet Awards for business and professional excellence, Cordillera Chocolates has got the industry wrapped up for premium and sustainable cocoa and has products that will put Colombia on the map for all the right reasons

We are not only talking the talk but are walking the walk​,” says Quinteto.