The story of Savita began in 1984 when, after 14 years experience working in the field of cocoa processing, Richard Trout pursued his entrepreneurial dream by starting his own company. The focus of the business was chocolate, specifically recovering and producing cocoa butter from various raw material sources. The early days were not easy: a trial by fire of sorts, many lessons were learned and the company survived and grew.
In 1990, Richard formed a strategic alliance with another company in order to build two different operations: one focused on growing and improving his existing business of cold-pressing, solvent extracting and purifying edible oils; the other operation to produce specialty dutched cocoa powders. When the partnership ended, Richard took over the improved and expanded oil processing part of the operation in New Jersey.
Trained as a chemical engineer, Richard used his expertise to create a batch process for purifying and refining cocoa butter. He designed and built a propane solvent extraction plant to recover higher quality cocoa butter and diversify into the food product area of producing defatted foods, in particular, defatted cocoa powders.
Because Richard chose to use the normally gaseous solvent propane, in a form that is not adulterated with odor compounds, rather than hexane, the end products could be considered food grade by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This process proved an effective way to produce food grade solids of higher quality and lower cost than the other major food-grade extraction method of supercritical CO2.
“We applied for and were granted a couple of patents related to the propane extraction process and also special dutched cocoa powder product,” explains Richard. “The dutching patent is based on the fundamental concept of removing the fat, processing to create the dutched cocoa flavor, aroma, etc., and then adding the fat back to the extent you want it present.” This eliminates the formation of soaps which can be produced during the normal dutching process, which becomes significant when dutching heavily, such as in the production of black cocoas.
In 2004, the company ventured into the field of nutraceuticals. Starting with saw palmetto berries, they put their problem-solving expertise to work to build and implement a process for cryogenic milling to create different kinds of berry powders and extracts, as well as high quality saw palmetto oils using the propane extraction process.
Though production of cocoa butter remains the core business of Savita, the experience gained over the years in the field of oil seed extraction has made the company highly adaptable and able to apply their knowledge to processing of other raw materials.
Today, Savita is a family company, as all three of Richard’s sons have taken roles in the business. Together, they lead a dedicated staff of people, many of whom have been with the company for years; and while the team may be small, the results they deliver are immense.
“We are small,” agrees Richard, “but it depends how you measure us. We have twenty employees—that’s small. If you look at our buildings: one is 18,000 square feet and the other one is 20,000—we’re not necessarily small. If you look inside our buildings and see all the technology, equipment and engineering—we’re not small at all.”