Cocoa of Excellence: Unravelling and celebrating diverse flavour qualities of cocoas to promote market differentiation

Published on 22 June 2010

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Start Date: 1 October 2009 | End Date: 31 March 2011


Producing more than 95% of all cocoa, more than 10-million poor, smallholder rural families depend on cocoa for their income. Paradoxically, ‘bulk cocoa’ is the major part of the world cocoa production supplying a largely undifferentiated, commoditised market that keeps prices low. However, demand for fine-flavour, added-value cocoa is steadily increasing. Fine flavour cocoa products depend largely on the genetic make-up of cocoa varieties.

Financed mainly by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) through the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), the work aims to contribute towards greater diversification of cocoa markets through the identification and characterization of high quality cocoa origins. It will benefit cocoa producers, through increased opportunities to be rewarded for producing high quality cocoa beans. Operators in the supply chain will also benefit from increased awareness on high quality cocoa origins, as well as the consumers; by having access to better and more diverse cocoa products. Mars Inc., Barry Callebaut, Belcolade, The World Cocoa Foundation and CIRAD have also provided support.

In preparation for the official start of the grant, a pilot event was staged in 2009, involving 20 countries submitting 152 cocoa samples from a wide diversity of cocoa origins. 40 of these samples (from Latin America and the Caribbean) were selected, processed and judged for an award entitled Cocoa of Excellence (COE), in the 2009 Salon du Chocolat in Paris. The results confirmed the reputation of Venezuela, Ecuador and Trinidad as producers of fine cocoa.

For its 2010 edition  the Salon du Chocolat of Paris invited the general public to attend the International Cocoa Awards, showing consumers how their chocolate consumption can improve the lives of the smallholder farmers who grow most of the world’s cocoa production, and in the process contribute to the conservation of cocoa diversity.

Of the 148 cocoa samples received and analysed, 50 made it through the Cocoa of Excellence selection process and competed in their geographic area of origin: West Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, or Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The jury of professionals and connoisseurs assembled for the occasion scored the cocoa/chocolate, sweet, floral, fresh fruit, brown fruit, nutty, spicy and woody notes of each sample.

Fifteen of the nineteen participating countries were represented at the award ceremony. Entries that best represented the three dominant flavour categories of their region were singled out for recognition, provided by individual producers from:  West Africa (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana); South America (Brazil, Colombia Ecuador); Central America and the Caribbean (Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago) and South-East Asia and Oceania (Madagascar PNG)

An invitation to participate in the Cocoa of Excellence (CoE) celebration 2011 has just been announced (deadline for sample submission 31 March 2011)

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One Response to “Cocoa of Excellence: Unravelling and celebrating diverse flavour qualities of cocoas to promote market differentiation”

  1. Cesar Londoño says:

    I want to know What clones have been sent from Colombia.IF the FSV41 is outstanding as a fine flavor clone.
    Cesar Londono

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