New chocolate factory signals deepening U.S. ties with Ghana

From left to right: Milwaukee 7 Representative Chris Hermann, PNC Bank Regional President, City of Franklin Mayor Steve Olson, Niche Founder Edmund Poku, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes, President and Founder of Omanhene Steve Wallace

Ghana’s largest cocoa producer is building a new chocolate factory in Wisconsin, part of increasing economic cooperation between the West African nation and the United States.

Niche Cocoa Founder and CEO Edmund Poku told an October 4 launch event that the company selected Franklin, Wisconsin, for its new facility to improve access to U.S. markets and because of the Milwaukee suburb’s proximity to dairy producers.

“The U.S. became a natural choice for expansion, given the market size and potential, to develop both semi-finished products and also selling more products up the value chain such as chocolates,” Poku said, announcing plans for the facility, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.

The $30 million, 4,000-square-meter facility is one of the largest investments by an African food and beverage company in the United States. The factory will process cocoa cake from Ghana into cocoa powder, which can combine with Wisconsin dairy to make chocolate drinks. “We can serve a lot of people, especially schoolchildren,” Poku said. “Once you produce the powder, there are a lot of milk factories already” in the area.

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago called Niche’s investment “historic” and a “milestone” in U.S.-Ghanaian economic cooperation.

“We look forward to watching Niche Cocoa grow and thrive here as it shares Ghana’s delicious bounty with Americans and the world,” she said at the October 4 event.

The new facility will increase Niche’s access to U.S. markets and opportunities to partner with local businesses, while employing more than two dozen workers and adding to U.S. knowledge of chocolate production.

Ghana is the world’s second-largest cocoa-producing country after neighboring Côte d’Ivoire. Ghana’s exports to the United States totaled $1.7 billion in 2021. Cocoa, along with oil and gold, makes up much of that trade, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The United States invested $1.6 billion in Ghana in 2019, according to the USTR, with U.S. exports to Ghana totaling $840 million that year.

The United States is working to further cooperation with African nations, including Ghana. In April, the U.S. Embassy in Accra and the American Chamber of Commerce–Ghana launched the 2022 SelectUSA Summit recruiting program to attract Ghanaian companies interested in investing in the United States.

December 13–15, President Biden will host the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington to advance shared economic, climate and security priorities.

“The Summit will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa, and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation,” Biden said in a statement.

*Source Share America

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