Made in KG: Kyrgyz Chocolate — One Step Closer to Switzerland
Today our Made in KG section will be about Kyrgyzstan, no, not the country, but chocolate. The Kyrgyz Republic is often compared to Switzerland and called 'the Switzerland of Central Asia' — unfortunately the country cannot boast a similar banking system or watch brands, but at least it now has its own chocolate brand. The company making the Kyrgyz Republic closer to Switzerland is called 'Kyrgyz Chocolate'. It was launched last December and is now quickly gaining attention. Aidai Chekirova, GO KG journalist has talked to Muzarbek Zholoshev, the company's founder and director.
The First Challenges
Like any other company, the start brought some different challenges. Designing the first 'Kyrgyz Chocolate' product took a lot of time. The company hired five different companies, but none of them managed to offer a suitable design. Finally the company has found Toi Art studio, which presented a design the company liked in three months. The chocolate package was red and had mountains, the sun, a forest, an eagle, a yurt, a tunduk (a national symbol and a part of a yurt) and Bugu-ene (the Mother Deer) on it.
The next difficulties were connected with equipment. The company didn’t know where they could find the equipment they needed for chocolate production and people, who could operate the production. It ended up ordering equipment from Russia and Italy and managed to find technologists who trained staff to produce chocolate. The initial investments have amounted to about seventy thousand dollars, which according to Muzarbek Zholoshev are expected to be recovered in a year.
All necessary ingredients for the chocolate production are brought from Belgium, the country considered the largest chocolate producer in the world. This explains the price of a chocolate bar, which is now KGS 135 (~$2). Muzarbek says a lot of people are complaining about the high price for a local product. He explains that 'Kyrgyzstan' chocolate bar is made of natural cocoa products, which affect the price.
The Kyrgyz Flavor
In addition to the usual 'Kyrgyzstan' black chocolate bar, the company has recently launched a product with a Kyrgyz flavor — a cholocate bar with kurut, which is quite an interesting combination. According to Muzarbek, it is not just a plain mix of kurut (Kyrgyz traditional salty dried yogurt) and chocolate. The company has a special recipe, which allows to make such a combination.
'Kyrgyz Chocolate' first started with several closed presentations with product tasting and invited friends, shop owners and experts. The reviews were all positive. Now, according to Muzarbek, orders started coming from Kyrgyz people living abroad. Muzarbek himself has long lived abroad and understands why lots of people missing their home country are happy to get such a symbol of the Kyrgyz Republic. The company has already sent its chocolate to Belarus, Kazakhstan, USA, Japan, China, Germany, and Canada.
Starting with a single markets chain, Boorsok, now 'Kyrgyz Chocolate' products can be found in almost every major chain including some regions too. The manufacturing process of the company meets the food safety requirements and the company is now getting more and more different quality certificates.
Currently 'Kyrgyz Chocolate' is busy developing a special chocolate bar dedicated to the coming World Nomad Games, which will appear in stores soon. And its not the only addition — the company is planning to expand its range of products adding milk chocolate, chocolate with different nuts and dried fruits.
The next big goal is to build a factory and reach high-volume export levels to different countries.