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Ghana-based Niche Cocoa locates first North American manufacturing facility in Franklin, Wisconsin

October 4, 2022
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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

Project is largest food and beverage investment by an Africa-based company in U.S. history 

MILWAUKEE, WI. OCTOBER 4, 2022 – U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago joined Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary Missy Hughes and local officials today in welcoming Ghana-based Niche Cocoa to Wisconsin.

The company is choosing to build its first North American manufacturing facility in metro Milwaukee. The project will be the largest food and beverage investment by an Africa-based company in US history and the largest Ghana foreign direct investment ever in Wisconsin.

“Niche Cocoa’s historic investment in Wisconsin is an unmistakable signal to other companies across Africa and around the world — the United States is open for business,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Marisa Lago.

“The Biden Administration is strengthening our relationships abroad to create jobs and prosperity at home. Niche’s investment here is more than just a new facility—it’s an investment in American workers and in the Franklin community. I applaud Edmund Poku and our Department of Commerce team — including SelectUSA — that helped to facilitate this investment. Niche Cocoa joins a broad and growing array of forward-looking businesses in expanding in the United States’ diverse, dynamic, and open economy — underscoring why we have remained the top destination for foreign direct investment for a decade running.”

“Niche Cocoa joins a growing list of international businesses that have chosen Wisconsin because of our highly educated workers, great transportation infrastructure, and central location,” Governor Tony Evers said. “I welcome their investment in our state and the diversity their business adds to our economy.”

Niche Cocoa Industry, Ltd., a privately held, global cocoa processing company headquartered in Tema, Ghana, is establishing its first North American manufacturing facility in the Franklin Business Park in Franklin, Wisconsin.

Niche Cocoa is the largest cocoa processor in Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa producer after the Ivory Coast. The company’s North American expansion pioneers a change in the direction of African investment and showcases the rapid growth in African businesses, specifically in Ghana.

“Niche Cocoa Industries Limited (Niche) has established itself as a formidable business in Ghana and with some international customers mainly from extracting high-quality semi-finished products from the cocoa bean,” said Niche founder Edmund Poku. “The value within the supply chain comes from adding more value upstream and given the market dynamics, most of those big markets are outside of the African continent. Niche is proud of not only the quality of the product it has delivered but also of the flavor and taste of the Ghanaian cocoa bean which is the world’s most premium bean. The US 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.

“Taking into account proximity to customers, logistics, high-quality human capital, and a business-friendly environment, Wisconsin was a great choice. We know how to build factories so we could do that anywhere but the partnership between what we know how to do and what Wisconsin can offer Niche to succeed in our next chapter is what has brought us to the state,” Poku said.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the state’s lead economic development organization, assisted in the recruitment of Niche Cocoa and is pleased to welcome them into the state’s food and beverage manufacturing cluster.

“The food and beverage sector is one of our state’s economic drivers,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “Niche Cocoa’s decision to locate here complements our existing businesses and opens new possibilities for collaboration in the supply chain.”

At its Franklin Business Park location, the company will lease over 44,000 square feet. In this facility, the company will import cocoa cake, which will be pulverized to create cocoa powder for nationwide distribution as well as manufacture finished chocolate made with cocoa butter and cocoa liquor produced in Ghana.  Niche will initially employ over two dozen workers at the new facility.

“We’re happy to welcome Niche Cocoa to the Franklin Business Park, joining several other well-known food processors/manufacturers and equipment manufacturers,” said City of Franklin Mayor Steve Olson.  “Niche Cocoa continues Franklin’s long history of welcoming international corporations to our fast-growing community. Niche recognizes our great location, highly skilled workforce and our great business climate and quality of life for their employees.”

Niche Cocoa is partnering with The Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, a Milwaukee-based company that pioneered production of world-class, single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate manufactured in Ghana.

“Together, we’re creating cocoa products and compelling employment in both the US, and Ghana,” said Omahene’s founder, Steve Wallace. “We’re proving that a country’s competitive advantages, paired with strategic global partnerships, lead to winning outcomes in unexpected places. Together, Omanhene and Niche demonstrate the promise of a new globalism where international trade creates jobs and value instead of exploiting vulnerabilities.”

Milwaukee 7 (M7), southeastern Wisconsin’s regional economic development organization, assisted in the recruitment of Niche.

“We’re thrilled that Niche has chosen to make its first North American investment in southeastern Wisconsin,” said Rebecca Gries, Vice President of Corporate Attraction & Expansion at M7. “Niche is precisely the type of company we want and can uniquely support in our region. The company adds to a strong cluster of global food and beverage manufacturers that call our region home, a reflection of our favorable business environment, strong manufacturing infrastructure and one of the nation’s highest concentrations of talented workers.”

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