The 140-acre Rabot Estate is situated in the South West of Saint Lucia, near Soufriere - the original French capital. The estate is divided up into 16 different côtes or areas of terroir, with evocative names steeped in history, such as L’Hermitage, Ti Jardin, Marcial, Mathilde and Rameau. The rich and fertile volcanic soil, high altitude (c.1000ft above sea level) and rainforest water all combine to create a unique environment (terroir) that is perfectly suited to growing Hotel Chocolat’s fine and rare strains of cocoa.
Having turned around the fortunes of the estate, we are now spreading the regeneration through to local cocoa growers. So far, 140 of our Island Grower partners have joined our Cocoa Programme – whereby they benefit from advice and technical assistance; the supply of high quality Trinitario seedlings; and, crucially, a guaranteed market for their entire crops at prices above those of the world market.
The next stage of development for The Rabot Estate is to build a chocolate factory and start making chocolate using local ingredients and local labour. Making chocolate in Saint Lucia and exporting it to the UK is a reversal of the normal practice, which is to add all the value in Europe, giving only the value of the commodity to the cocoa growing economy. We will be training local people in chocolate making, using ingredients and creating a whole value chain around this new enterprise. We’ve already chosen our site and HRH Prince Charles kindly broke the ground during his latest visit to the island. So watch this space for more exciting developments.