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José Caro, Chocoter
Chocolate coated cherries, a product made in Spain
The Spanish cherry season has just started, but not all fruits are intended for fresh consumption. In Zaragoza, a company called Chocoter uses local cherries and other fruits to produce a product with added value and available all year round: chocolate coated fruits.
"We work with cherries, oranges, apples, apricots, peaches, plums and pears," explains José Caro, and these are all grown in Spain. "We buy the fruits already confectioned and whole from local suppliers, although we supervise the confectionery to make sure that the quality and the calibres are good. We are then in charge of chopping them and coating them in chocolate."
Caro explains the process. "The fruits are introduced into sulphur dioxide to stop the ripening; then, glucose and sugar are added. By doing this, we can guarantee that they will be suitable for consumption for at least a year without using any preservatives other than sugar. Lastly, the cherries are macerated in alcohol for two months more so that they acquire the liqueur taste that we want; the rest of fruits retain their natural flavour.
For Chocoter, quality is the most important aspect, so they always use Spanish fruits, so they don't have to store them for too long, and dark chocolate with a cocoa content of between 55% and 60%.
10% for the United States
Chocoter sells most of its products in the domestic market and doesn't export them to many countries, although it does sell a large volume to its largest export market: the United States. "We make 10% of our total turnover from sales to the United States, mainly of chocolate coated oranges. We also have secondary markets, such as the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Italy, although we don't sell a lot in central Europe," affirms the entrepreneur.
Chocoter is the leader of this segment in Spain, and although its competitors are mainly the most famous chocolate brands, the latter's products do not really have much to do with Chocoter's. "They offer liquor pralines, rather than cherries coated in chocolate. On the other hand, here in the area of Aragon, there are also manufacturers of polvorones and shortbread, although their products are of a different quality to ours and they focus mainly in the Christmas season. There are only two or three manufacturers like us producing all year round."
Tourism and own consumption
This product is aimed at different types of consumers, so the company offers them in different presentations. "Our most important market at any time of the year is tourism. There are usually sales of the well-known Aragón fruit baskets (with miniature replicas of the traditional wooden boxes used in fruit picking), which are very typical and we try to be in all service areas, airports and important transit locations. Then, during the Christmas campaign, great quantities of our products are also sold for own consumption."
However, these products are not very successful in supermarkets, since they are usually placed on the shelves with candy and other sweets, so consumers mix them up with more expensive confectionary. They are usually better sold in specialty and gourmet food stores, nut stores or pastry shops.
The company Chocoter has been devoted to coating in chocolate since the 50's, when José Caro's grandfather started developing this product, so he is already part of the third generation which has followed the family tradition. The company always works with a specific variety of cherry, the Napoleon, which is cultivated in Aragon, as well as with Salustiana oranges.
Ctra. N-II, Km. 227,
50293 Terrer, Zaragoza, Spain
Tel.: +34 976 887574
Publication date: 4/24/2017
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