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Good chocolate starts with good cocoa beans – a little taste from the Cocoa of Excellence Programme and the Salon du Chocolat in Paris

On the side-lines of the Paris Salon du Chocolat event, Bioversity International co-established International Cocoa Awards went to 17 cocoa producers from Africa, Asia and Pacific, the Caribbean and Central America and South America.

The 21st Edition of the Paris Salon du Chocolat attracted more than 700 participants from over 40 countries including exhibitors, pastry chefs, chocolatiers, experts, authors and artists. Part of the exhibition, held in Paris earlier this month, included the Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Programme which was launched by Bioversity International, Event International and CIRAD in 2008.

The CoEx Programme takes place every two years and gives cocoa farmers from around the world the opportunity to compete for the International Cocoa Awards. The International Cocoa Awards is the only one of its kind and through an evaluation of the quality and the diversity of flavours it rewards the work of cocoa farmers and celebrates the diversity of cocoa varieties. Bioversity International coordinates the CoEx Programme and also the Global Network for Cacao Genetic Resources (CacaoNet), which gathers member representatives from various cocoa research institutes from the private and public sectors and several organizations supporting cocoa research.

The fine and flavor chocolate industry, fair trade and organic chocolate, are contributing to increasing demand for quality cocoa. Chocolate tasters and lovers, as for fine wines connoisseurs, are now willing to pay top dollar for specific cocoa flavours resulting from a mix of variety, bean quality, and geographical origin, growing and processing conditions. All of the International Cocoa Award winners shared a common trend: striving to improve the taste of chocolate through effective quality control at every passage of the value chain.

The 2015 Edition of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme received a total of 146 bean samples from 35 cocoa-producing countries. The best 50 samples were selected and processed into chocolate and then sent to a panel of 26 international experts for blind sensory evaluation. As a result, 17 producers from the 4 following regions won the International Cocoa Award: Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo), Asia and Pacific (Indonesia, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands), the Caribbean (Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago) and Central America and South America (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Honduras).

Learn more about Cocoa of Excellence and the International Cocoa Awards

Photo 1: Chocolate tasting with expert Ed Seguine at the 2015 Paris Salon du Chocolat. Credit: Bioversity International/L. Hook

Photo 2: Lindsey Hook, Bioversity International Resource Mobilization Intern and Brigitte Laliberté, Advisor to the Coordination of CacaoNet, Cocoa of Excellence and MusaNet at the Cocoa of Excellence Programme stand. Credit: Bioversity International/L. Hook