1. What were some of the original reasons that you and other industry leaders founded FCIA in 2007?
Seeing the changes in the industry of using less flavor cocoa over the last 50 years and the emergence of their use in the bean to bar movement led us to want to shine the spot light on some of these classic genetic types. Many famous brands rose to prominence using some of these cocoas but because competitive price pressure started the process of incremental degradation and their original personality was lost.
2. Looking back over the past 12 years, how has the fine chocolate industry evolved? Were there any surprises? How have consumers tastes and preferences changed?
I think the evolution of the fine chocolate industry, which today is centered on the bean to bar movement, has grown tremendously over that last 12 years, maybe to the point of saturation. It was surprising that the growth was so rapid. I’m not sure that consumer preferences have changed, I think they, like Guittard, are always looking for something new. I do think their knowledge of chocolate flavor and its diversity has grown. I think in reaction to that there are many flavored bars with inclusions on the market today. I’m surprised it hasn’t evolved more into fine candy like bon bons, box chocolate or candy bars.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Caputo’s will be spotlighting Omnom Chocolate from Reykjavik, Iceland at the 8th Annual Caputo’s Chocolate Festival, where Utah’s trend setting chefs and beverage experts will craft chocolate-based creations to benefit the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative.
This year’s culinary lineup will include the following local establishments: Normal Ice Cream, Pallet Bistro, Nomad Eatery, The Farm in Park City and Table X Restaurant. Talented chefs will showcase unique Icelandic flavors of Omnom Chocolate in a variety of gastronomic applications, both sweet and savory. The evening will offer inspired cocktails from Water Witch, Sugarhouse Distillery and Bar Daddy, local brews from T.F. Brewing and Epic Brewing Company, and cozy pour overs by La Barba Coffee Roasters.
The 8th Annual Caputo’s Chocolate Festival takes place on Thursday, November 14th, beginning at 7:00 PM at the Downtown Caputo’s Market & Deli (314 West 300 South, Salt Lake City). Admission is $45; $70 with alcohol pairings (highly recommended). Space is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance on Caputo’s website: https://caputos.com/classes-and-events/. All proceeds from the Chocolate Festival are donated to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative.
Photos from last year’s chocolate festival can be viewed here.
ABOUT Caputo’s Market & Deli: Caputo’s is Utah’s leading purveyor of regional Italian and Southern European foods, winner of numerous specialty food awards, and an advocate for bean-to-bar craft chocolate. With four locations across Salt Lake Valley, Caputo’s has solidified its position as one of the nation’s best specialty food markets, with a mission to promote and preserve culinary traditions of our ancestors. Highlights include cave aged cheeses from their state-of-the-art cheese caves and one of the largest collections of craft chocolate bars in the world, all which can be found online at caputos.com.
ABOUT Omnom Chocolate: What started as nothing more than an experiment, Kjartan Gíslason and childhood friend Óskar Þórðarson took over an abandoned gas station in Reyjakvik’s downtown area and Omnom Chocolate was born. Having been classically trained, Chef Kjartan was already familiar with terms like single origin and cacao. “Just like wine, beer, cheese or kimchi, chocolate is the labour of a lot of patience, from growing the cacao pods until the bar is safely melting in your mouth.” Naturally, after sourcing some of the finest cacaos from all around the world, his focus narrowed in on flavors and textures. Today, Omnom is revered as a craft chocolate favorite, incorporating unique Icelandic ingredients into the art of chocolate making. This November, Chef Kjartan and team Omnom will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to exhibit at Caputo’s Annual Chocolate Festival. We invite you to experience the flavors of Iceland in our Salty City.
ABOUT Heirloom Cacao Preservation: The HCP is a non-profit collaboration between the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and the United States Department of Agriculture to genetically identify strains of heirloom cacao that are extraordinary and unique in flavor and quality and preserve them in the face of an agricultural system that is quickly killing them off. For more information, visit hcpcacao.org.
The Pure Nacional tree once at the heart of South America’s chocolate industry was believed to have been lost forever – until it was recently rediscovered by accident. [HCP note – this article features HCP Board Member, Dan Pearson]
By Lavinia Wanjau, 17 September 2019, BBC Travel
Travelling to the Marañón Canyon in northern Peru is like stepping back in time. Mud-brick houses dot the hilly landscape. Electricity, which arrived in this area just three years ago, is only available in a few homes, and supply can be inconsistent. It only works about five days a week and you never know which five days these will be. And with few paved roads, residents of this remote region rely on mules and bicycles for transportation.
That the Marañón Canyon has remained relatively untouched by modernity has been a blessing, as it is here that the Pure Nacional tree, which produces some of the world’s rarest cacao, has flourished.
We are always looking for opportunities to educate our audience on the cacao growing regions. So we thought this would be a great article to share even though it doesn’t directly relate to our Hawaii Heirloom Designee. There are a number of cacao initiatives on the go in Hawaii including: our HCP Nursery Project at Kamananui Estate, Oahu; the commercial and experimental Ku’ia Estate Cacao Farm, Maui and the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program grant, featured in the article, which will impact a number of cacao farms across the state.
July, 2019, Western IPM Center
Hawaii is known for many amazing things, and some believe it’s time for world-class chocolate to be added to that list.
A dedicated group of cacao growers, processors and researchers are building a cacao industry on the islands aimed at producing distinctive, high-quality cacao, the raw ingredient the world’s top chocolatiers seek out to craft their best bars. Hawaii’s cacao and chocolate has already won some top international awards.
“With our very distinct islands and geography, we have the potential to create a lot of very premium cacao that’s quite distinct as you move across the state,” said Dave Elliott, a cacao specialist with the Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council. “The direction we’re going in Hawaii is producing beautiful chocolate that tastes different from one side of the island to the other, or even, I hope, from one watershed to the next.”
Bringing that vision to life means developing a brand-new crop on Hawaii and understanding all the elements that turn a tropical fruit into a dark indulgence.
Swapping Sweet CropsCacao was introduced to the islands in the mid-1800s but never really flourished. It’s only in the past 20 years or so, as plantation agriculture on Hawaii came to an end, that commercial cacao production began to spread. There are still only a few hundred acres under cultivation, but it’s growing.
“Where we see cacao grown in Hawaii is where there used to be huge plantations producing sugar cane or pineapples, but those are no longer the agricultural reality for the state,” Elliott said. “Everybody’s working hard to figure out where Hawaii’s agriculture is going and what’s going to carry us forward, and cacao is part of that.”
June 27th, 2019, COSA Committee on Sustainability Assessment
New apps are not only bringing vital information to small farmers, they are increasingly driving their participation in a rich digital eco-system. Organizations like Lutheran World Relief (one of our partners) are working to make new technology available to farmers that would deliver science-based advice when they need it. With the average farmer in the developing world surpassing 60 years of age, these impactful technologies help engage younger farmers in productive ways. The early results are positive with improvements in quality, increased production, and reduced risks.
Producers often don’t have the latest knowledge for their farm enterprises, and technical assistance from extension agents is expensive and hard to scale, thus limiting its impact on income and overall sustainability.
Mobile technology, increasingly available to remote communities, can be a scalable and more cost-effective vehicle for delivering technical training and market information to farmers. They no longer need to travel to get market prices or agronomic training and they can get timely pest and disease warnings. For women and ethnic minorities, using mobile tech for extension services and technical assistance can thus have a unique appeal. The next generation farmers who are innately drawn to mobile applications especially stand to gain from information and learning that can be shared this way. Entire communities can learn more, at minimal cost.
Lutheran World Relief’s Mobile Farmer app is a solution that can overcome the geographic isolation of many small farmers and deliver encyclopedic knowledge even offline. As LWR combines this with a bilateral data exchange functionality, they create a ‘multi-logue’ between market actors.
COSA is collaborating with LWR and with several partners on these efforts. With our rigorous metrics, the performance of the technology can be improved constantly and its effects can be more readily measured. It is part of our commitment to advancing the democratization of data. A vibrant and farmer-centric digital ecosystem can directly engage farmers to improve their livelihoods. We are at the beginning of scalable technologies for small farmers and already we are gratified to see more and more tech-enabled platforms, such as the African initiative on big data and precision farming for small farmers that we wrote about recently.
Link to COSA Article
A thank you to our colleague, Spencer Hyman, in the UK whose thoughts are applicable across the globe.
“Craft Chocolate, along some dimensions, seems less developed than other craft food and drink categories in building core craft “pillars”. But we clearly see this is as “glass half full”. On the most important aspect of craft – having a better product – craft chocolate clearly wins out. Everyone who tries craft chocolate agrees it tastes far better. And everyone who hears the story grasps that it is both better for them and better for farmers and the planet. So we start from a strong position.”
GO TO THE ARTICLE….
Guittard Chocolate Company Expands its Flavor Labs in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Indonesia to Protect High-Quality Cocoa
Burlingame, CA (January 24, 2019) — Guittard Chocolate Company, as part of its Cultivate Better™ sustainability platform, has expanded its flavor quality work in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Indonesia. The expansion is an initiative designed to protect and preserve the unique flavors of each country’s cocoa. With the support of The World Cocoa Foundation, USAID, Swisscontact, and the Millennium Challenge Account, Guittard is leading comprehensive programs in the world’s top cocoa producing countries, working with breeders, extension agents, cooperatives, and farmers.
It takes flavorful, high-quality beans to make great-tasting chocolate, and no one knows this better than the fourth and fifth generation of Guittards who are in charge of this 151-year-old premium chocolate company. The flavor labs are part of an effort designed to address the negative implications of what Gary Guittard terms the “incremental degradation” of cocoa flavor. This incremental degradation is the result of an industry-wide shift toward breeding cocoa for high yields and disease resistance without any consideration for flavor. Recognizing the need to be competitive in the cocoa market, the flavor labs allow researchers in their respective countries to develop the tools and skills to objectively assess the flavor of different cocoa varieties and incorporate this basic and critical component into their breeding programs together with productivity.
Guittard notes that most cocoa farmers have not tasted the chocolate that is made from their beans, nor have they had the opportunity to taste the differences among the varieties of their country’s cocoa or the results when harvesting, fermentation, drying, and storage are done correctly and when they are not. The program works with cocoa farmers, cooperatives, and extension agents to “learn by tasting” how their skill and craftsmanship can build value and strengthen customer relationships.
Policymakers are learning to appreciate the differences in the flavor of their country’s cocoa varieties, regional flavor differences, and to understand why it’s important to protect historical flavor profiles to safeguard market position as well as create new market opportunities.
The flavor labs and sensory panel training are part of the company’s larger sustainability mission that balances prioritizing flavor, quality, and value with substantial investments in education and training to improve farmer livelihoods.
This all makes good business sense, says Guittard, because the company, as well as its customers and supply chain partners, do best when it has long-term, consistent sources of high-quality ingredients from stable business partners. Through these programs, Guittard helps provide opportunities for cocoa farmers and their communities to prosper by producing premium-quality cocoa and building long-term relationships.
Here’s a snapshot of Guittard’s work in each country:
Through the USAID/WCF Africa Cocoa Initiative, Guittard has helped train a cocoa sensory panel at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to identify and preserve the rich chocolate flavor of Ghana cocoa in their breeding program and pre- and post-harvest practices. These skills have allowed CRIG to train over 500 extension agents who, in turn, are training Ghanaian cocoa farmers on the best on-farm practices to achieve great flavor and protect Ghana’s market position. In 2019, the CRIG sensory training program and lab will expand with the installation of bean-to-bar production equipment that will be able to produce thousands of samples for farmers and cooperatives across the country so they can taste for themselves the impact they can have on cocoa and chocolate flavor and value.
Guittard’s partners in Ghana helped them set up a similar lab and training program for their sister cocoa-producing country at Ivory Coast’s Centre National de Researche Agronomique (CNRA). John Kehoe, Guittard’s director of sustainability, traveled to Ivory Coast in September 2018 with cocoa processing equipment for their lab to expand this critical WCF/USAID work to the world’s largest cocoa-producing country. Ongoing training, the development of new partnerships, flavor-based research, and farmer extension will add important skills and knowledge to unlock value within the Ivoirian cocoa sector.
Indonesia has a rich cocoa-growing tradition with genetics dating from the 1500s and ranks third in the world in cocoa bean production behind Ivory Coast and Ghana. Unfortunately, Indonesia’s cocoa quality does not reflect this unique history and in recent years, cocoa production has contracted due to disease pressure and cocoa farmers switching to other crops. In partnership with the Indonesia Coffee Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI), Swisscontact, and the Millennium Challenge Account, Guittard led the effort to install a flavor lab in December 2017 along with continued sensory training both on-site and via Skype. These new tools and skills are allowing ICCRI and Indonesia to recognize, assess, and celebrate the quality and diversity of flavor inherent in Indonesian cocoa and to access new markets.
Learn more about Guittard’s Cultivate Better™ sustainability work at: Guittard.com/cultivate-better.
Let’s go into 2019 on a positive note about the health of the industry from this March 2018 article.
The U.S. chocolate market is expected exceed $20 billion by 2025, according to research by United Kingdom-based firm IndexBox.
The research firm noted the market reached $17.6 billion in 2016, up $819 million — or 5 percent — from 2015. This figure reflects total revenue of producers and importers and excludes logistics costs, retail marketing costs and retailers’ margins. Overall, the U.S. chocolate market grew on average by 4.1 percent each year between 2008 and 2016.
Chocolate and confectionery consumption in the United States is expected to continue its upward trend, supported by population growth and rising purchasing power, along with increasing demand for premium chocolate and confectionery items. Furthermore, greater interest in healthy lifestyles continues to drive consumption of sugar-free, organic and dark chocolate.
However, an increase in production costs, which consequently led to a surge in consumer prices, and changes in consumer preferences toward products with lower sugar content are key factors constraining market performance.
As a whole, the market is projected to grow by 1.8 percent each year between 2016 to 2025, putting the expected market value at $20.7 billion by 2025.
December 19, 2018 – In effort to preserve and propagate fine flavor cacao, some of which are rare, wild and ancient types, the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP) has built nurseries, set up experimental farm plots and trained local farmers in cultivation techniques at three Heirloom designee sites.
The best tasting chocolate in the world starts with the finest cacao. But fine flavor cacao is poised for extinction. The chocolate industry in general is focused on chocolate as a commodity and supports programs that replenish cacao orchards with cacao tress bred to produce high yields and are disease resistant – not bad attributes at all – but flavor has never been a consideration. We are fighting to change that one farm at a time.
If we don’t protect cacao biodiversity, a world of boring chocolate that all tastes the same will eventually dominate. Remember what happened to tomatoes and strawberries? Concern for high yield took over consideration of flavor, and now we are left with mostly bland tasting tomatoes and strawberries in our super markets.
Don’t let that happen to chocolate! Buy chocolate the tastes really good even if it costs more. See the fine chocolate makers and chocolatiers using Heirloom cacao. https://hcpcacao.org/buy-heirloom-chocolate/
”It is through the efforts of those who love fine chocolate and the determination of farm families to protect the cacao from which it is made, that has resulted in this remarkable progress.” Dan Pearson, HCP President
About the new HCP Nursery Projects
This work has been conducted as a part of an 18-month grant awarded to HCP by the Lesley Family Foundation, operating from December 2017 to June 2019. A year into their projects, the three participating Heirloom designees have successfully conducted training and laid the foundation for the preservation of fine flavor cacao in the Latin America region.
To read the full mid-term report on the specific progress that has been made by the three Heirloom designees, please email Anne Zaczek firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
Is Some of the Best Artisan Chocolate Found In Utah?
Nov 7, 2018, Michele Herrmann, Forbes
Utah’s connection to chocolate is quite solid. From chocolate appreciation societies to artisan chocolate producers, the Beehive State can be said to have tasty ties to this confection.
“For the most part in Utah, people get into chocolate production after being connoisseurs and having a deep knowledge and respect for the craft,” said Matt Caputo, CEO of Caputo’s, a gourmet grocery business that carries Utah-made chocolate.
Caputo can be credited with helping to develop more of a community taste for artisan-produced chocolate in Utah. Having started to stock these types of chocolates in 2005, within his Salt Lake City location, he originally found that bars weren’t exactly flying off the shelves.
Chocolate Makers using HCP Heirloom Cacao are featured in the article: Amano Artisan Chocolate, Solstice Chocolate, and Millcreek Cacao Roasters. See all those chocolate makers using HCP Heirloom cacao on this page.