Increased demand and a healthy future for Latin American cocoa
increasing popularity of premium chocolates in Europe and the US,
according to a speaker at the recent meeting of the World Cocoa
Foundation (WCF) in Ecuador.
Sergio Seminario, an agricultural analyst with Grupo Seminario, said: "There is a huge opportunity for cocoa production in the Americas…demand for the region's fine flavour cocoas is growing dramatically, reflecting the increasing popularity of premium chocolates in Europe and the United States." Premium chocolate is increasingly popular and origin chocolates, made with beans harvested in one country only, are forming an increasingly important part of this expanding market. Barry Callebaut uses cocoa from Colombia, Venezuela, Amazonia, Brazil, and Ecuador in its origin chocolates range, which the company has recently been busy expanding and promoting. In March this year Barry Callebaut published a survey whereby four out of ten respondents in Western Europe and the US said that they have already discovered origin chocolate, representing an increase of 26 percent compared to 2006. Other companies are joining in the origin chocolate boom. Chocolove, based in Boulder, Colorado, has recently been promoting its '2007 Vintage' of Chocolatour chocolates. The company says that for its 2007 collection the beans were sourced from among other countries Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Some of the cocoa used in Dove's Origins range is also sourced from these countries. According to the ICCO annual report for 2005/2006 organic cocoa beans only represented a very small share of the total cocoa market, less than 0.5 per cent, but most of the countries producing organic cocoa beans were located in South America, the source of more than 70 per cent of organic cocoa in the world. The Dominican Republic was the largest supplier. Organic chocolate is another growth area in the premium chocolate market. Developing sustainable cocoa in Latin America According to the WCF cocoa originated in the Amazon basin where it has played a significant economic and social role for nearly 2,500 years and today 500,000 farms families in Latin America depend on the crop for their livelihood. To help foster a sustainable cocoa economy in the region the WCF and its 67 member companies support the Andean Countries Cocoa Export Support Opportunity (ACCESO) programme in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. WCF says that by using successful farmer training methods and technical assistance programmes the ACCESO is improving the competitiveness of the region's cocoa crop across the supply chain from farmers to exporters and manufacturers, and is increasing the number of farming households producing market-quality cocoa. The ACCESO programme has helped lead to "dramatic improvements in productivity and incomes for participating cocoa farmers", according to one speaker at the WCF meeting. At the meeting, representatives from Ecadour, Colombia, Peru and the Dominican Republic presented cocoa sustainability plans for their countries, focusing on the roles of national strategies, farmer training and farmer associations, as well as the outlook for continued market growth. Workshops were held to discuss how to reinvigorate cocoa production in the area. Nearly 300 people attended the meeting including farmers, scientists, none-governmental organisations and industry and government representatives, including Ecuador's Minister of Agriculture.