Cocoa had been grown extensively in St Vincent up until the early 20th Century until the banana industry rose to pre-eminence in the 1970s and became the backbone of the agricultural economy. But with the dropping of tariff protections for bananas exported from the Caribbean into the EU, the banana industry has been in steady decline ever since.
Alongside rising world demand, this was seen as a good opportunity to create a cocoa industry in St Vincent which has perfect growing conditions for cocoa and the attraction of being a single-source location.
The St Vincent Cocoa Company (SVCC) was formed in 2011 by Armajaro, a European cocoa trading company, with the aim of establishing a cocoa industry in St Vincent.
But in 2014, the Company ran into financial difficulty and was bought by Ecom Agrotrade Ltd, an international commodity conglomerate, which decided that the St Vincent cocoa project did not fit in with its plans because not enough land was being planted to cocoa by farmers.
Fortunately for SVCC and the country, Harry Marriott & Andrew Hadley (both Vincentians - the former naturalised and the latter by birth) who had been involved since the start of the project - the former by introducing Armajaro to St Vincent via Sir James Mitchell (ex Prime Minister of the country) in 2010 and the latter in managing the Company since its inception - had faith in the potential of the business. Moreover they did not want to let down its farmers, the country or its Government.
They bought the Company and its entire business is September 2014.