Small Lithuanian chocolate producers sweeten up overseas consumers

While these companies are still few and far between, Domantas Užpalis, a gourmet chocolate pioneer in Lithuania, said that his company’s production grows every year.

He has his own shop in Vilnius’ old town, and has successfully cracked foreign markets. He produced 20 tons of ecological chocolate in Lithuania last year, selling half of it in Lithuania and exporting the other half.

“We’re trying things, improvising with honey, boletes and hops – we use them in our products. We work with 35 countries and have over 600 business clients, from the USA and Europe to China and Japan,” Užpalis said.

Užpalis, who began his business six years ago, claims that, when he began, he was one of 150 small gourmet chocolate producers around the world who did everything themselves, from cocoa bean to chocolate bar.

At Šilavoto B&B, cocoa beans of exceptional quality make their way from Central America and Africa to a factory in the village of Parapijoniškės near Vilnius. These beans are full of the plant fat that is used to create cocoa butter.

The factory appeared two years ago when its owners took advantage of European funds for village businesses to acquire industrial equipment. To create exceptionally flavoured products from the cocoa beans, the chocolate masters have come up with variety of recipes. Many of their products are hand-made with some of them wrapped in silk paper.

“We deal with retail stores. It’s hard to get a foothold because there’s a lot of competition, but we have high-class chocolate, so we hope that we will find buyers for it in Lithuania,” said Linas Augaitis, who heads Šilavoto B&B.

Last year, only a few tons were produced, but this year, they aim to produce ten times that amount with some of their chocolate ecologically certified. The company exports chocolate to several countries in Western Europe and is targeting new markets further afield.

As more and more people look for exceptional chocolate flavours, the openings for such niche businesses are growing more and more common.

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