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Niche Cocoa becomes largest African food and beverage investment in U.S. with Franklin expansion

Edmund Poku.jpg
Eddie Morales
Edmund Poku is the founder of Niche Cocoa, a Ghana-based chocolate manufacturer. Poku announced Niche will expand to the U.S. by opening a facility at Business Park in the city of Franklin.

The largest cocoa maker in Ghana is bringing its chocolate manufacturing to Wisconsin. Niche Cocoa announced Tuesday that its first expansion in the U.S. will be at Business Park in the city of Franklin.

"Niche’s investment in Wisconsin is the largest ever African food and beverage investment from anywhere on the continent of Africa, to anywhere in the United States since records have been kept decades ago," said Steven Wallace, North American project manager for Niche Cocoa.

Wallace is also the founder and president of the Milwaukee-based Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company. Wallace first met the founder of Niche Cocoa, Edmund Poku, when Poku was attending Columbia University.

"By virtue of our studying abroad, our eyes became bigger, our horizons were extended and as a result, the world became a tiny bit smaller," said Wallace.

Niche Cocoa makes a variety of milk and dark chocolate bars with flavors like coffee, orange, mango, coconut and more. Initially, over 24 people will be employed at the 44,000-square-foot facility. Poku said in Ghana, Niche processes cocoa beans before they export the product internationally.

"Now, we are going to bring in semi-finished products, refine it into cocoa chocolates, as well as pulverizing cocoa cake into cocoa powder," he said.

Poku said what brought him to Franklin is the number of food and beverage manufacturers in the state. Franklin Mayor Steve Olson said the city will make sure to support Niche’s expansion.

"When Edmond came to visit the site it was January and probably two feet of snow on the ground," Olson said. "He still picked us, which is just a testimony to the quality of the area that we have."

In a statement, Gov. Tony Evers said he welcomes Niche’s investment in Wisconsin, and the diversity their business adds to our economy.

Eddie Morales joined WUWM in 2022 as a reporter. Before working at WUWM, he was the North Shore communities reporter for the Now News Group and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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