Posts Tagged ‘cocoa’

What’s the Difference Between Cocoa & Cacao?

September 23rd, 2017
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Sure, you love chocolate, but can you tell these ingredients apart?

Most people love the rich, creamy taste of chocolate, but not everyone knows the difference between cocoa and cacao.

The chocolate flavor most of us think of is based on cocoa, which comes from the beans of the cacao tree. Cocoa is processed into cocoa powder, cocoa butter and, of course, chocolate chips. With its sweeter flavor, cocoa is a more common ingredient than cacao in desserts like fudgy brownies and rich chocolate cakes.

The purer form of chocolate is called cacao. It comes from the same source as cocoa, but you can find it in cacao nibs and specialty bars. It’s also a superfood with many antioxidants—in case you needed another reason to give it a try.



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Why chocolate is good for your gut

September 23rd, 2017
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Chocolate lovers, rejoice; the sweet treat is not only delicious, but studies show that it can also promote friendly bacteria and reduce inflammation in our guts.

First, some background: trillions of bacteria live in our guts. They contribute to our immune system, metabolism, and many other processes essential to human health.

When the delicate balance of microbes in our intestines is disturbed, it can have serious consequences.

Irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, allergies, asthma, and cancer have all been linked to abnormal gut microbiomes.

A healthful diet supports bacterial diversity and health, but could chocolate be an integral part of this?

Benefits of cocoa

Cocoa is the dry, non-fatty component prepared from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree and the ingredient that gives chocolate its characteristic taste.

Many health benefits have been attributed to cocoa and its potent antioxidant functions. These include lowering cholesterol, slowing down cognitive decline, and keeping the heart healthy.

Cocoa metabolism is partly dependent on the bacteria that live in our intestines.

Our bodies are only able to absorb some of the nutrients in chocolate. As such, we need our tiny microbial passengers to break complex molecules into smaller components, which we would not be able to take into our bodies otherwise.

This allows us to make full use of the many health-promoting molecules in cocoa. It doesn’t stop there, however. The gut microbes also benefit from this relationship, which, in turn, has an even greater effect on our health.

Gut health and inflammation

Several studies show that the consumption of cocoa increases the levels of so-called friendly bacteria in the gut.

Researchers from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom measured higher levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species in the intestines of human volunteers who drank high-cocoa chocolate milk for 4 weeks.

The same team previously showed that components in cocoa can reduce the growth of Clostridium histolyticum bacteria, which are present in the guts of individuals with inflammatory bowel disease.

In pigs, higher levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species were also found in the colon in response to a high-cocoa diet. Interestingly, the expression of known inflammatory markers was reduced.

Friendly bacteria including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have, in fact, been implicated in actively promoting anti-inflammatory processes in our intestines, keeping our gut healthy.

Chocolate as part of a healthful diet

Despite the fact that these scientific studies support the claim that cocoa can be beneficial for our gut microbiomes, cocoa does not equal chocolate.

The cocoa extracts used in research do not contain the high levels of sugar and fat found in our everyday chocolate bars.

Unsweetened cocoa powder or high-cocoa content dark chocolate are the closest alternatives to the cocoa used in these studies. Consumed in moderation, chocolate may therefore promote friendly bacteria, and, by extension, a healthy gut, keeping inflammation at bay.

When choosing your next chocolate treat, join the Medical News Today editorial team in their choice and opt for a nice piece of dark chocolate.



Chocolate, Health

Chocolate Boosts Your Brain Power, New Study Finds

July 8th, 2017
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Italian scientists have found that a daily dose of cocoa acts as a dietary supplement to counteract different types of cognitive decline.

They found regularly eating cocoa was linked to improvements in working memory and visual information processing and cocoa could be particularly beneficial for certain people.

Cocoa, is the dried and fermented bean from the cocoa tree used to make delicious chocolate treats. Cocoa has been studied extensively because, well, who wouldn’t want that job.

Over the years, it has been found that a range of naturally occurring chemicals in the cocoa bean have therapeutic effects.

For example, polyphenols in dark chocolate were found to increase calmness and contentedness and flavanols were able to reverse age-related memory decline.

Before you start using this an excuse to scoff as much chocolate as humanly possible, just remember that chocolate also contains theobromine, a toxic chemical. Though to be at risk of poisoning yourself, you’d have to eat about 85 full sized chocolate bars.

Despite the large number of claims about the health benefits of cocoa, there are only a limited number of randomised trials and the literature is a mixed bag of results.

In this study, the team looked through the literature for effects of acute and chronic administration of cocoa flavanols on brain activity and, more specifically, what happens if you do this over a long period of time.

The studies used to perform the review mainly required the subjects to consume a low, medium or large amount of cocoa in the form of a chocolate drink or bar for a period of between five days and three months.

The scientists found that there was enough evidence to support the health claims attributed to cocoa, and, in particular, the flavanol compounds it contains.

They noticed enhancements in working memory performance and improved visual information processing after consuming cocoa flavanols. The benefits varied depending on the demographic being tested.

For the elderly, it turns out that long term ingestion of cocoa flavanols improved attention, mental processing, working memory and verbal fluency and was most beneficial in those who had mild cognitive impairments or the beginnings of memory loss.

“This result suggests the potential of cocoa flavanols to protect cognition in vulnerable populations over time by improving cognitive performance,” wrote the researchers from the University of L’Aquila in Italy, including Valentina Socci and Michele Ferrara.

For healthy people, without the beginnings of memory loss, cocoa could also enhance normal cognitive functioning and have a protective role on cognitive performance. The researchers admit that you have to push the healthy subjects a little harder before that benefit starts to become significant.

One demographic in particular benefited from cocoa.

For women, eating cocoa after a night of total sleep deprivation counteracted the cognitive impairment associated with no sleep. Promising results for people that suffer from chronic sleep deprivation or work different shift patterns.

But how exactly does cocoa help with brain power?

The researchers aren’t completely sure, but do have some ideas.

“If you look at the underlying mechanism, the cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects for cardiovascular health and can increase cerebral blood volume… This structure is particularly affected by ageing and therefore the potential source of age-related memory decline in humans.”

So should you start shovelling chocolate into your mouth? Perhaps, but it comes with an obvious warning.

“Regular intake of cocoa and chocolate could indeed provide beneficial effects on cognitive functioning over time,” say the researchers.

“There are, however, potential side effects of eating cocoa and chocolate. Those are generally linked to the caloric value of chocolate, some inherent chemical compounds of the cocoa plant such as caffeine and theobromine, and a variety of additives we add to chocolate such as sugar or milk.”

Despite the risk of gaining a few extra kilograms, the scientists are happy to listen to their own advice and conduct a little bit of self-experimentation.

Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavanols. So, we always eat some dark chocolate. Every day.”

I can’t think of health advice I’d be happier to listen to.

The findings were reported in Frontiers in Nutrition.



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A glossary of cocoa and chocolate terms. 55 terms to know

January 21st, 2017
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For chocolate producers and master chocolate makers, these words are part of their usual language, but what about the rest of people who go crazy for a good chocolate and are anxious to know more about cocoa and chocolate jargon?

From, and by the hand of the Agricultural Engineer from FUNDACACAO, Andreina Portillo, we invite you to satisfy your curiosity and discover the meaning of terms that you may have heard at some point. We assure you that after understanding them, it will be much easier and funnier to be close to an expert and talk about the subject.

  1. Analogous of chocolate: It is the uniform product prepared with cocoa powder, vegetable fat, starch, cocoa butter added or not, cocoa liqueur, sugar, sweetener, milk solids and allowed additives (COVENIN 3585: 2000).
  2. Bean to bar: this trend became popular in North America for more than a decade, and refers to the artisan, but refined, way of making chocolate bars. Hence its literal translation is “from grain to bar”.
  3. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP): It is a set of principles, standards and technical recommendations applicable to the production, processing and transportation of food, aimed at ensuring the protection of hygiene, human health and environment, using methods ecologically safe, hygienically acceptable and economically feasible.
  4. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): it is a compilation of general rules, procedures and practices that together provide a guide to what is acceptable and unacceptable within the food industry.
  5. Cocoa: It is a tropical tree from the Amazon jungles. It has a dense crown, the adult leaves are completely green, its flowers, on the stem or branches, are white or rosy, the fruit is a pod. The cocoa tree usually reaches a height between 6 to 20 metres.
  6. Criollo cocoa: It is characterised by a fruit often elongated, with a prominent, bent and sharp end. Its surface is generally rough, thin, and often green splashed with red or dark purple and marked by 10 very deep grooves. The beans are large, thick, almost round with white or very slightly pigmented cotyledons (Navarro and Mendoza, 2006). It is the type of cocoa with more flavour and aroma of all.
  7. Cocoa slime: It is the cocoa bean after being harvested and placed in a plastic container with a capacity of approximately 18 kg. This container is called a cocoa can. The yield rate of each can of cocoa should be between 6.2 to 6.5 kg of dry cocoa.
  8. Extra-fine cocoa: It is the cocoa bean obtained from a variety of trees called “criollos”, with soft, pinkish white cotyledon almonds, whose beans are well fermented (higher than 70%), with almost circular cross-wise section, and that complies with the established requirements, free of odours different from its characteristic one as well as any other adulteration sign.
  9. Fine aroma cocoa: according to Álvarez et al. 2007, it is defined as almonds with high aromatic potential and other sensory benefits that make them so different from others. The Fine cocoa has distinctive aroma characteristics and low content of bitter substances.
  10. First class fine cocoa (fermented or F1): It is the cocoa obtained by fermented hybrid beans from cocoa Trinitarian Forestero (also called Forestero in Venezuela) that have been fermented to a degree greater or equal to 80%. Free from unusual odours and any other sign of adulteration.
  11. Second class fine cocoa (fermented, common, ordinary, or F2): It is the cocoa obtained by hybrid beans from Trinitarian Forestero cocoas (also called Foresteros, in Venezuela), which differ from the first class fine cocoa in the fermentation degree, since its beans have not been fermented or the process has been done in an inappropriate way.
  12. Forestero cocoa: Its fruit is generally oval-shaped and short, green or yellow when is ripe, with a smooth surface. The pericarp is thick and difficult to cut. Its beans are small and kind of flat and its colour is between light and dark purple (Navarro and Mendoza, 2006). They are more resistant to the environment and the plagues, but their flavour and aroma are not as remarkable as it is Criollo cocoa.
  13. Trinitarian cocoa: It is a hybrid between Criollo and Forestero. The Trinitarian cocoa shares characteristics from both groups. The colour of the almonds varies between the white from the Criollo and the dark one from the Forestero (Navarro and Mendoza, 2006). Likewise, they hold aromatic features much more relevant than the Forestero.
  14. Cauliflorous: Cocoa is cauliflorous, since its flowers and fruits are produced on the stem and branches of the tree.
  15. Chocolate: It is the homogeneous product prepared from cocoa liqueur, cocoa butter, with or without added sugar, sweeteners, milk solids, vegetable fat up to 5% and allowed additives (COVENIN 52: 1999)
  16. White Chocolate: I is a kind of chocolate made with cocoa butter combined with milk powder and sugar. It does not use cocoa liqueur in its preparation.
  17. Milk chocolate: It results from the combination of cocoa liqueur, cocoa butter, milk powder and sugar. It contains approximately 35% of cocoa liqueur. Its main ingredients are milk powder and sugar.
  18. Cup Chocolate: It is a dark chocolate with a little starch added, so it can thicken. Normally it dissolves in milk.
  19. Dark chocolate, black, bitter or bitter: It is the result of the combination of cocoa liqueur, cocoa butter and sugar. It must contain at least 45% of cocoa liqueur.
  20. Chocolate coating: It is used by bakers and chocolate makers to make desserts. It is chocolate with a content of 30% of cocoa butter.
  21. Conchage: It is the process of intense stirring and ventilation of the chocolate paste for several hours at a temperature ranging from 70 ° C to 90 ° C.
  22. Orthotropic growth: vertical growth of the cacao tree.
  23. Plagiotropic growth: horizontal growth of the cacao tree.
  24. Cocoa derivatives: products obtained from the husked cocoa, such as: cocoa paste, cocoa cake, cocoa butter as well as mixtures of these products with sugar and / or optional ingredients.
  25. Husking: It is the removal of the almond shell either manually or mechanically.
  26. Fermentation: It is the process of eliminating the slime or mucilage of cocoa and the production (within the almond) of precursor substances of chocolate flavour and aroma.
  27. Cocoa bean: It is the almond inside the cocoa pod, healthy, clean, already fermented or not, dried, husked and without mucilage (COVENIN 50: 1995, 2nd revision).
  28. Fermented bean: It is the almond that when cut lengthways by the cross section, shows on both sides of the almond well defined and deep grooves, with a very fragile dark brown husk (forestero and trinitarian cocoas) and light brown (Criollo cocoas ).
  29. Germinated bean: It is the cocoa bean whose husk has been broken by the growth of the seed radicle, exposing it to the attack of fungi and insects (COVENIN 50: 1995, 2nd revision).
  30. Mouldy bean: It is the bean showing moulds in its internal or external parts which can be seen at a glance (COVENIN 50: 1995, 2nd revision).
  31. Partially fermented bean: This is the cocoa bean which, when cut lengthways by the cross section, shows shallow grooves on both sides of the almond, compacted edges, mildly fragile dusky red-brown husk (Trinitarian and forester cocoas) and light brown (Ciollo cocoas).
  32. Slaty bean: it is the cocoa bean, when is cut lengthways by the cross-section, shows a smooth and compact texture mass, generally in slaty or dark colour (COVENIN 50: 1995, 2nd revision).
  33. Flat grain or “pasilla”: It is the cocoa bean whose two cotyledons are so fine that it is not possible to obtain a cotyledon surface when it is cut, meaning that the thickness between its two flat faces measures less than 5 mm. (COVENIN 50: 1995, 2nd revision).
  34. Grains damaged by insects: This is the cocoa bean showing insects inside or outside, detected at any stage of development (eggs, larvae, adults) or that it has been attacked by insects damaging the almond observably (COVENIN 50: 1995, 2nd revision).
  35. Dry cocoa beans: It is the grain which has been uniformly dried and whose moisture content is between 7 to 8% (COVENIN 50: 1995, 2nd revision).
  36. 36. Pod index: It is the quantity of pods needed to obtain 1 kg of fermented or non-fermented and dried cocoa.
  37. Seed index: It is the average weight of 100 beans of fermented or non-fermented and dried cocoa.
  38. Grafting: It is the most used asexual propagation in cocoa cultivation. It consists in joining a bud of a tree (crown) with ideal features with a plant (pattern) produced in a nursery, which is more resistant to the effects of unfavourable conditions. The new plant will be similar to the one where the bud was taken.
  39. Innocuousness: it is the guarantee that the product will not cause any harm to the consumer, when it is prepared or ingested, depending on its intended use.
  40. Cocoa liqueur (dough or cocoa paste): It is the product obtained by grinding fermented or unfermented cocoa beans, roasted, husked, without germs and contaminants (COVENIN, 1480: 1998, 2nd revision).
  41. Processed cocoa liqueur: It is the product obtained by grinding the fermented or unfermented cocoa beans, roasted, husked, without germs and contaminants, which may or may not be added alkaloid, acidifier and emulsifier agents (COVENIN, 1480: 1998, 2nd revision).
  42. Linalool: It is a terpene with an alcohol group whose natural form is common in many flowers and aromatic plants. This component of the volatile part of cocoa plays an important role in the perception of the floral characteristic and is commonly known as “Arriba” flavour, a unique feature of the National variety.
  43. Cocoa butter: It is a semi-solid product, with a greasy aspect at room temperature, white or slightly yellowish, obtained from the processing of cocoa beans through mechanical extraction or by solvents.
  44. Alien bodies and matters (contaminants): It refers to any substance other than cocoa beans, such as cord pieces, stones, insects and wood or stick bits, among others.
  45. Cocoa nibs: They are pieces or tips of roasted cocoa obtained after the seeds are toasted and husked, and finally crushed or chopped.
  46. ??Drying yard: Area for drying the beans either after fermentation or harvesting. These are usually built in cement or softwood.
  47. Pruning in cocoa: This is a technique used to eliminating all shoots and unnecessary branches, as well as the damaged and dead parts of the tree. It is a quite important cultural work due to its direct effect on the growth and production of this crop.
  48. 48. Cocoa powder: It is the product obtained by the pulverization of the cocoa cake.
  49. Cutting test: It is a method of cutting the cocoa beans lengthways and performing a visual analysis of both sides of the cotyledon in order to establish any possible defect as well as the fermentation degree (COVENIN, 424-1995).
  50. Drying: It is a stage in the cocoa processing in which any excess of moisture is removed from the beans by heating and the formation of chocolate aroma and flavour is completed.
  51. Tempered or warmed-up: It is the process by which the chocolate undergoes several temperature variations in order to cause the crystallization of the fat (cocoa butter) which is formed by four crystals: Gamma, Alpha, Beta and Beta `.
  52. Cocoa cake: It is the product obtained from isolating the butter and the cocoa liqueur by pressure (COVENIN, 1479: 1998, 2nd revision).
  53. Traceability: It is the ability to follow the history, application or location of everything under consideration. It is the monitoring of the origin of materials and parts, the processing, distribution and location history of the product after delivery (ISO 9000: 2000).
  54. Tree to bar: It means “from the tree to the bar”. In this way it is necessary the correct application of good agricultural practices.
  55. Cocoa nursery: It refers to the place where cocoa seedlings are previously formed, for its subsequent planting in the final soil.




Cargill report highlights latest trends in cocoa and chocolate

December 6th, 2016
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Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business has released its comprehensive report highlighting key trends in chocolate.

Based on insight gained from interactions with customers across numerous application categories, and on information gathered from projects with customers through Cargill’s application centres, the report highlights trends across four key themes: indulgent; premium; healthy; and sustainable and clean.

Cargill’s four trending areas


Today’s consumer is looking for an ever-more indulgent experience, across flavour, texture and colour, inspiring new levels of creativity in sweet foods around the world. In flavours – vegetable and chocolate combinations are becoming popular across a range of categories, for example kale flavour fillings in chocolate bars and chocolate featuring alongside beetroot in cakes.

Texture is also evolving towards more indulgence, with larger chocolate chunk inclusions as well as new combinations of textures such as crispy chocolate layers on top of creamy desserts.

Cocoa powder is increasingly being used to play with shades and add depth of colour.


Demand for premium products is at an all-time high, with provenance and origin being key among cocoa and chocolate products. Besides specifying the origin of cocoa or chocolate, manufacturers increasingly highlight on the pack the country where the end-product was manufactured, satisfying consumers’ desire to buy local products. Inspiration from the artisanal industry is also observed. Processes behind the product are becoming more prominent on packaging – with details included such as ‘stone ground’ or ‘slow churned’ and even the conching time of chocolate.


How diet affects health and wellness is increasingly on consumers’ minds, leading them to avoid ingredients perceived as unhealthy, and look for those perceived as healthy. Besides the long standing trend for sugar reduction and gluten free, lactose free claims are increasingly being observed in cocoa and chocolate products, with milk alternatives such as coconut milk increasing in popularity. Looking at ingredients seen as beneficial, the trend for protein is still booming and becoming mainstream, breaking free from the sports nutrition niche and focusing on satiety rather than sports recovery.

Sustainable and clean

Where food comes from, how it is produced, and its true ethical and environmental cost, really matter to today’s consumer. Certified chocolate products are becoming more popular and spreading their reach out from chocolate tablets into dairy, bakery, biscuits and ice cream. Answering consumers’ needs for more transparency, clean and clear labelling is also more important than ever. In the quest to remove e-numbers, real fruits and plant extracts are being increasingly used to naturally colour products.

Niklas Andersson, Cargill European marketing director for cocoa and chocolate, said: “Whether working in confectionery, biscuits, bakery, cereals, dairy or ice cream, our report provides real insights that can help manufacturers get a head start on the competition when creating new products and innovations.

“Today’s discerning consumer is looking beyond value for money. They are better informed than ever before and, as our research demonstrates, they consider the contents of their food and its impacts on the future more than ever before. In short, they want food that tastes good, is good, helps them to be good and does good.”



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Food scientists are trying to engineer milk chocolate to be as healthy as dark chocolate

November 5th, 2016
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Chocolate_o_s_sidePeople are always eager for good news about chocolate. That made us sitting ducks two years ago, when Harvard science journalist John Bohannon fooled the world by publishing a “study” that showed chocolate could help you lose weight. He watched the fake story and flimsy science get picked up by legitimate news outlets globally before finally confessing that he had conned the media to prove a point about irresponsible science journals and journalists.

With that cautionary tale in mind, I suggest we all take the latest chocolate development—that US Department of Agriculture researchers, in partnership with North Carolina State University, have found a way to boost the nutritional content of milk chocolate—with a grain of (smoked sea) salt. Not because the science is faulty, but because the promised novel form of chocolate doesn’t make milk chocolate a health food.

It’s understandable that researchers would look for ways to give sweeter, more popular milk chocolate a piece of dark chocolate’s good-for-you halo.

Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than milk chocolate, which means it also offers more of the bean’s health-supporting flavonoids. Eating small amounts of dark chocolate consistently—most studies use chocolate made from 70% cocoa—has been found to lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar levels in the body, improve mood by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost heart and brain function. The polyphenol epicatechin in cocoa is a particularly potent antioxidant known to improve blood flow by prompting blood vessel cells to release higher amounts of nitric oxide. (For this reason, eating dark chocolate could even enhance your workout.)

In order to try jack milk chocolate’s healthfulness factor, the scientists added an ingredient that doesn’t sound immediately appealing: extracts of discarded peanut casings, a waste product of the peanut industry.

Added to milk chocolate, the peanut skin extracts bring with them phenolic compounds that offer antioxidant properties similar to that of dark chocolate. “The compounds in peanut skins are the very same ones found in other sources such as cocoa, tea and cranberries; that is catechin, epicatechin and procyanidins,” says Lisa Dean, food technologist and lead author of the study. The scientists encased the peanut skins in the starchy food additive maltodextrin, which camouflaged their flavor, making the difference between treated and untreated milk chocolate undetectable in the study’s 80-person blind taste test. (They have not yet tested the dosed chocolate with people who have peanut allergies.)

“There are published studies that have shown that extracts from peanut skins are anti-inflammatory in cell culture, have cholesterol lowering effects in rats, and have antioxidant effects in chemical tests,” Dean adds, noting that, “if the compounds themselves are the cause of the health effects, then the effects will be the same, regardless of the food source.”

So could the new enriched milk chocolate be as healthy as dark chocolate? Not really. Yes, it would offer the same antioxidant levels, but it would still contain higher amounts of sugar and milk solids than dark chocolate. Then again, dark chocolate bars can also contain larger than recommended amounts of sugar, too, and that refined sweetener, which has been tied to its own, much more elaborate publishing scandal, is worse for us than we knew.



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Cemoi Chocolate Sales in World No. 1 Cocoa Grower Beat Forecasts

October 8th, 2016
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French chocolate maker Cemoi Group said sales from its cocoa-processing plant in Ivory Coast exceeded forecasts in the operation’s first year as the company plans to increase output in the world’s biggest producer of the beans.

Demand for Cemoi’s chocolate spread and cocoa powder produced in the West African nation continue to rise, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Poirrier said in an Oct. 1 interview, declining to comment on revenue and volumes. Cemoi will double production at its plant in the commercial capital, Abidjan, to 10,000 metric tons in the next three years while starting sales in Nigeria, Poirrier said in May.

“It’s still a burgeoning market, but there’s a middle class in Ivory Coast who wants to eat chocolate,” Poirrier said at a cocoa conference in Abidjan. “This is a test market, the idea is to go beyond and expand our network in West Africa which has a population about the size of Europe.

Ivory Coast is recovering from a 10-year conflict that ended in 2011 and achieved economic expansion of 10.3 percent last year, the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. Fast growth and a larger middle class have pushed up consumption of goods from bread to burgers and attracted Carrefour SA and Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s Burger King to open businesses in the nation.

The country said in June it will reduce export taxes for local grinders in return for increasing processing capacity. Ivory Coast seeks to boost local processing to 50 percent by 2020 from 33 percent at the moment. Shipments of chocolate are tax-free since last year.

Cemoi is one of only a few local makers of chocolate in Ivory Coast, where most of the grinding plants make semi-processed cocoa products.

Source: Bloomberg



Tesco to use Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa in own-label chocolates

July 23rd, 2016
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UK-based retailer Tesco has announced that it will use cocoa in its products obtained only from Rainforest Alliance certified sources.

The retailer has made a commitment to produce its own label chocolate products sold in the UK from those sources by the end of 2018.

It also wants to ensure that the cocoa used in its other UK products, such as biscuits, cakes, desserts and cereals, be responsibly sourced by the same date.

Tesco chief product officer Jason Tarry said: “Our customers want to be reassured that we treat farmers and growers well and that the foods they buy are sourced responsibly.

“Our collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance will help to support cocoa farmers improve their livelihoods and ensure we are offering great sustainable and affordable products.”

Tesco’s products will carry a frog seal on packaging to enable customers to recognize Rainforest Alliance certified products.

By the end of 2018, it plans to source cocoa in accordance with many sustainability programmes including the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, Cocoa Horizons and Fairtrade.

Rainforest Alliance president Nigel Sizer said: “Tesco’s commitment will have a significant impact on improving the social, economic, and environmental well-being of cocoa farming communities.”

Recently, Tesco announced that it will stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2025, following an in-depth review of its egg sourcing strategy.

The UK retailer will transition to 100% cage-free eggs by shifting to alternative sourcing methods such as barns, free range and organic.

Currently, caged eggs account for 43% of the 1.4 billion eggs sold by Tesco in the UK annually. The remaining eggs come from free range or organic methods.



Companies, Ingredients

Ferrero pledges to double Fairtrade cocoa purchases

June 18th, 2016
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Confectionery brand Ferrero has said it will double the amount of cocoa it purchases from Fairtrade farmers to 40,000 metric tonnes over the next three years.

Ferrero has sourced cocoa from Fairtrade cooperatives in Cote D’Ivoire since 2014, making it possible for them to sell a higher proportion of their crops on Fairtrade terms. And according to Ferrero, training on sustainable agricultural practices has helped cooperative members to increase their productivity and the quality of their cocoa.

Fairtrade also provides cooperatives with training on gender equality and child rights. Projects to prevent child labour build on the capacity of children and youth to contribute to self-monitoring, managing and tackling child labour within their own lives and farming communities.

At the World Cocoa Conference last month, the confectionery brand also announced plans to source 20,000 metric tonnes of Fairtrade cane sugar between mid-2016 and 2019.

More than 62,000 small scale farmers across 19 countries produce Fairtrade certified sugar, in regions such as Central America, Southern Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Sugar farmers received €10.2 million of Fairtrade Premium globally in 2014, according to Ferrero, money which they can reinvest in organisational infrastructure, training, improvements in productivity or good agricultural practices.

Policy changes are severely impacting imports of sugar to Europe, putting the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmers in developing countries at risk, the brand added.

“Ferrero’s long-term commitment means cocoa farmers in Cote D’Ivoire and sugar farmers in countries such as Costa Rica are going to benefit from secured sales and the additional Fairtrade Premium,” said Marina Vanin, global cocoa director at Fairtrade International.

“Research has shown that Fairtrade farmers benefit the most when they can sell a significant percentage of their crops on Fairtrade terms.”

The Fairtrade cocoa and cane sugar programmes are a key component of Ferrero’s goal to reach 100% certified sustainable cocoa and cane sugar by 2020.

Through the programmes, farmers can sell their crops to companies that are committed to sourcing a key commodity fairly and sustainably, to use across product ranges or their whole businesses.

“Long-term partnerships with companies such as Ferrero enable small scale farmers to plan for their future,” added Marina Vanin. “This kind of stability is an important factor in driving sustainable development. Farmers need access to market information and technical knowledge to ensure long-lasting, sustainable supply chains.”



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Taking action: 2016 Chocolate ingredient trends

May 28th, 2016
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cocoa-beans-200x320_fpAs demand for chocolate rises, leaders in the industry focus on creating a sustainable cocoa supply chain by helping to improve farming techniques and empower farming communities.

As demand for chocolate rises, leaders in the industry focus on creating a sustainable cocoa supply chain by helping to improve farming techniques and empower farming communities.

Consumers love chocolate, there’s no doubt about that.

Globally, chocolate demand is on the rise, and unless chocolate companies do something to help the cocoa-growing industry, demand will soon outpace supply.

Cocoa, after all, is a labor-intensive crop grown mostly in developing countries. Cocoa farmers face a rash of problems, from aging trees and pests to lack of training and resources. These challenges make it hard for individual farmers to produce large amounts of cocoa, which in turn means they can’t generate income above a subsistence level. It leaves farmers unable to invest in their farms, families, and communities and prevents them from raising themselves out of poverty. The consequence is a diminishing supply of cocoa every year.

To help combat the cycle and support cocoa farmers, leaders in the industry have committed to the World Chocolate Foundation’s CocoaAction Strategy, launched in May 2014. Major companies like ADM, Barry Callebaut, Blommer, Cargill, ECOM Agrotrade Ltd., Ferrero, The Hershey Co., Mars, Mondel..z Intl., Nestlé, and Olam have pledged themselves to the cause.

CocoaAction’s goal is to train and deliver improved planting material and fertilizer to 300,000 cocoa farmers by 2020, and empower communities through education, child labor monitoring, and women’s empowerment. It brings the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies together and develops partnerships between governments, cocoa farmers, and the cocoa industry to boost productivity and strengthen community development in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

And many companies have devoted considerable efforts to their own sustainability projects.

Mars, for one, set out to map the cocoa genome to better understand why the crop is so labor intensive and susceptible to disease. The company brought together a mix of partners from industry, government, and academia – including IBM, the USDA, and UC-Davis – for the project, which was completed in 2013.

They’ve also shared this scientific breakthrough with the industry and Public, believing that knowledge is power and not a secret to be withheld for competitive advantage, according to the company.

And Barry Callebaut has done plenty to help create a sustainable supply chain.

“It started with the need to secure quality, sustainable supplies of cocoa; meeting the needs of customers for sustainably sourced cocoa; and the realization that we need to help cocoa farmers, their families and communities, to become more sustainable,” says Jens Rupp, head of sustainability communications, Barry Callebaut. “The Cocoa Horizons initiative was launched in 2012 with CHF 40 million over 10 years, with the aim to improve farmer livelihoods. Last year we created the Cocoa Horizons Foundation to scale impact and drive change in cocoa sustainability globally.”

Barry Callebaut believes cocoa production is sustainable when farmers earn an equitable income, engage in responsible labor practices, safeguard the environment, and can provide for the basic health and education needs of their families.

The company works with more than 70,000 farmers in West Africa and Indonesia to implement sustainability programs, while conducting research in Malaysia focused on intercropping, pest and disease management, soil management, and rehabilitation.

Programs include training farmers in good agricultural practices, post-harvest management techniques, optimal use of inputs, crop diversification, farm rehabilitation, as well as basic business skills. Some farmers have also been trained in support services like tree pruning and spraying, which they can provide to other farmers in a safe and efficient manner. Other projects like mobile banking, funding education, women’s empowerment programs, and health insurance schemes help provide for farmers’ basic needs.

And the Cocoa Horizons Foundation, funded by the purchase of HORIZONS products, contributions from donors and customers, and Barry Callebaut’s Cocoa Horizons initiative, has more than 25,000 farmers enrolled in its activities. As of March 9, 2016, the Cocoa Horizons Truck, which visits farming communities and brings farmer training, educational services, and literacy training, has travelled 25,790 km through 182 villages, reaching 76,100 people and providing medical attention for 12,120 people.

Barry Callebaut’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t extend only to cocoa either. When it comes to other essential ingredients like palm oil, sugar cane, vanilla, sugar beet, dairy, hazelnuts, shea, and soy, the company has published sustainable sourcing policies on every one.

Cargill, similarly, launched the Cargill Cocoa Promise in 2012, which aims to accelerate progress toward a transparent global cocoa supply chain, enable farmers and their communities to achieve better living standards, and deliver a sustainable supply of cocoa.

“With the right investment, we have proven cocoa productivity can increase significantly,” says Taco Terheijden, director of cocoa sustainability, Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate. “For example, because of work through the Cargill Cocoa Promise, 58,000 farmers are now using pest and disease management techniques and products, resulting in a 23 percent average yield improvement and a 56 percent increase in yields achieved by farmers using fertilizers correctly.”

In 2015, 90,000 farmers attended 2,700 Farmer Field Schools, receiving training to help optimize production and reduce their impact on the environment.

“The Cargill Cocoa Promise also extends beyond promoting sustainable cocoa production,” says Terheijden. “For example, through the reach of the Cargill Cocoa Promise, 97 percent of children enrolled in the program in Ghana have stayed in school for at least five years. And in the last two years, thanks to new infrastructure, primary school enrolment has increased by 4.7 percent.” In short, it’s a commitment to the world. But when it comes to sustainability, the environment itself is also an important consideration.

Biodiversity, for one, is a key concern for companies like Endangered Species Chocolate.

Founded in 1993, the company intended to spread awareness and make an impact on the growing number of plants and animals that are rapidly disappearing from Earth. It has always supported worthwhile organizations committed to protecting endangered species.

ESC currently operates a 10% GiveBack program, which pledges to donate 10 percent of its proceeds or $10,000 (whichever is greater) to its partner organizations. In the Past three years, this program has donated more than $1.2 million to its chosen beneficiaries.

“Twenty-three years ago the program started with multiple non-profit partners receiving small donations in the form of financial support and product donations,” says Kelly Meinken, director of marketing, Endangered Species Chocolate. “Ultimately in 2007, our current program of a three-year term with two GiveBack partners was established.”

Each conservation organization must explain how it benefits the preservation of species and habitats, as well as provide information on the species, lands, and communities that benefit from its work. The applicants go through a twostage selection process conducted by ESC’s employees.

And not only do ESC’s sales benefit conservation programs, but their chocolate is also made with environmentally conscious, sustainably-sourced ingredients. ESC is the first American-made chocolate to use fully traceable Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa. It also uses RSPO and EcoSocial-certified sustainable palm oil and non-GMO cane sugar.

Pursuing certifications like Fair Trade USA, Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and UTZ Certified is beneficial both to the farmers and to consumers, says Uwe Schnell, business development manager, Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate.

“These certification programs encourage professional farm management and good agricultural practices, and farmers receive a premium for certified crops. In addition, premiums received by farmer organizations from certification are reinvested to support farmer members and their local community,” says Schnell. “For consumers, a certification label on product packaging provides independent assurance that their favorite brands source their ingredients responsibly and shows that the product contributes to improved livelihoods for farmers.”

Which all goes to show, the love doesn’t just come from consumers loving chocolate. It also comes from the chocolate makers loving the communities that supply the world’s cocoa.

Source: Candy Industry


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