What do you fellow chocolatiers think about deZaan chocolates?
DeZaan positioning seems to be high quality at competitive pricing. One rep mentioned that deZaan is just as good or better than Callebaut but at a lower cost (also comparable to Felchlin and Valrhona).
Of course, the de Zaan rep is going to position his chocolate in the most favorable way possible to their brand - "better" than Callebaut (whatever that means and there are lots of possible interpretations - I would ask them to describe what specifically they mean when they say "better" -- it will be different) at a lower cost than the premium brands.
In the end, what matters is whether you like the taste of it - we can't make that judgment for you, and whether or not you like the way it works, technically (viscosity, temper, etc). If you don't like the taste, or it doesn't work for you, then the price does not matter.
One of de Zaan's salespeople, Philippe Tytgat, is a member here on TheChocolateLife, you might ask him.
One other note is that de Zaan is a part of ADM (Archer Daniels Midland). They are one of the largest producers of chocolate and semi-finished cocoa products in the world. Definitely part of "big agriculture" -- they own ConAgra and other companies. (Take a look at the section on agricultural subsidies in the Wikepedia article.)
So - it's not surprising they can compete with Callebaut on price, the question of whether or not the quality is the same as Valrhona or Felchlin is a subject for debate.
Me, personally? I prefer working with smaller producers even though the prices are usually higher. Low(er) prices almost always indicate commodity beans which indicate that the farmers are not being paid a living wage for their crop.
Yea I plan on trying it myself but haven't had the chance. Chocolate is very subjective but I always have this feeling that their is a "best." Thanks for the referral btw.