Caldense company had three liqueurs awarded at the Great Taste Awards
Imagine there was a liqueur with the flavor of your favorite dessert. Well, if you like a good rice pudding, a pastel de nata, a tiramisu, a slice of Red Velvet, or if in the summer the Berlin ball tastes like sour cherries, know that there is a company in Caldas that recreates all these flavors, and a few more, in artisanal liqueurs that have already won international awards.
It was 2005 when Cristina Jambas founded Chocolicor, at the time in partnership with an investor from Caldas. “I already came from other liquor companies and we started this project, very aimed at the mass distribution markets”, says the founder.
This partnership lasted about a year, then it was Cristina who took over the company's destiny on her own. Born in the middle of the Douro Wine Region, Cristina Jambas grew up in France, in the Champagne demarcated area, cultures that influenced her journey in the world of liqueurs.
“We turned the company's concept around, we completely abandoned large-scale distribution to focus on the small market, focusing mainly on making the brand known at fairs and events”, says Cristina Jambas.
From an industrialized product, the company started to focus on artisanal liqueurs, “different from what was on the market”. “The first best seller was the chocolate liqueur with piri-piri”, he says. In addition to this, the company launched liqueurs with flavors such as chocomenta, red fruits, chocolate, coconut, coffee, cinnamon, or even mystical, developed with medieval markets in mind, with chocolate, coffee and cinnamon.
The company, in which five family members work, grew, until the pandemic arrived as a challenge, but, above all, as an opportunity. “It gave us time to reflect, because we weren’t running from fair to fair”, says Cristina Jambas. This reflection resulted in a new approach, both in terms of products and distribution.
“My daughter has wanted to develop a Red Velvet liqueur for a long time”, says Cristina Jambas. This was the first product to emerge from a set of ideas inspired by sweets and sold as premium liqueurs. “As it didn’t make sense to have just one liqueur, we took other liqueurs that we already produced and improved the recipe and presentation”, reveals the businesswoman.
At the same time, Chocolicor invested in its own distribution, through a new online store (in chocolicor.com ). “I met a guy who liked the project and who accepted the challenge of developing our new online store and promoting it through social media”, he says.
The changes were implemented in September 2021, on the company's 16th anniversary. In addition to Red Velvet, which has already established itself as the sales leader in the company's catalogue, the premium line has options such as caramel with salt flower, pastel de nata, rice pudding, tiramisu, chocolate, whiskey with chocolate, brownie, launched now this year, or even blueberries, which are 100% natural, with blueberries from a Roliça partner. These are joined by limited editions, such as the Berlin Ball, available only in the summer, until September 30th, but which has been a great success, or the Pannetone, exclusive to Christmas, the time of year when sales are at their highest. expressive.
The online store has become the main sales channel, although liqueurs are available in wine stores, grocery stores and gourmet stores. The company also does some production for customers' own brands. “We have been approached by large distribution companies, this year we have already turned down two large supermarket chains, because we are aware that this requires quantity and our focus is quality”, says Cristina Jambas. “We prefer to have niche products, with a small production that gives us more pleasure and allows us to innovate”, he concludes.
Through the online store, Chocolicor now reaches the entire country and international markets, such as the United States of America, Spain, France, Germany, or the Netherlands. “At this point, we have a 20% growth in our online store compared to last year, which is very positive considering the moment we are going through”, highlights the businesswoman.
Growth is accompanied by the appreciation of the product. This year the company ventured into the Great Taste Awards, in London, with three products, and all were awarded. The Red Velvet and caramel liqueurs with fleur de sel won a gold star. But the surprise came with Dona Ginja, an artisanal recipe without dyes or preservatives, which deserved two gold stars. The awards are recent, but they are already reflected in sales. And Cristina Jambas also intends to take advantage of the jury's assessment to improve recipes. Furthermore, Chocolicor will participate in this competition next year, including with a new flavor that is in the pipeline and that “will be something different”, says Cristina Jambas
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