Black River Chocolate was founded four years ago by Jamaican-born CEO Marvia Borrell, who wanted to recreate her childhood experience of delicious chocolate.
The company’s products are now sold in Selfridges’ exclusive ‘chocolate library’, delicatessens and in airports across the globe courtesy of World Duty Free.
Thanks to support provided by UKTI’s Exporting is GREAT campaign, Borrell’s single and mixed origin milk chocolate is now also available in stores in South Africa, Russia, Canada and the United States, and she is negotiating a deal to take her chocolates Down Under.
Borrell said: “I remember having my first ever hot chocolate from my grandmother. She had a cocoa farm in Jamaica and made her own hot chocolate from the beans growing there. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever had. I still remember it clearly.
“When I set up my own business I wanted to recreate that experience. We started out four years ago in October with a single origin from Jamaica. Since then we’ve expanded into other origins, including Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Madagascar.
“The UK is already well-serviced; it’s very competitive. After a while I was contacted by suppliers overseas who were interested in our chocolate, so I thought why not work the other way around and start looking at overseas markets.
“My international trade advisor Juliette Cattell was absolutely amazing. She helped me with strategy, advising on what to do and when, and also helped me come up with a selective and more focussed approach. A trade mission to Russia and other events really set me up and now we’re exporting to Russia, South Africa, Canada and the United States.”
Parveen Thornhill, regional director for UK Trade & Investment London, is advising other chocolatiers across the South of England to follow in Borrell’s footsteps and explore opportunities overseas.
She added: “Marvia’s story just goes to show what opportunities await London-based chocolatiers. We are always excited to work with companies such as Black River Chocolate – and trust me it’s not just because of the perks of working with a chocolatier. Chocolate is big business.
“Right now, UK chocolate products are in demand, all over the world. UK confectionary companies looking to grow their business should visit www.exportingisgreat.gov.uk to search for their next opportunity today. There are more than 1,900 live export opportunities on the portal. From Turkey to Peru, the demand is out there and you could be too.”
If you’ve enjoyed this article, click on the link below to sign up for more similar stories in your region.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement