San José, February 5, 2021. After analyzing 21 samples of fine and aromatic cocoa from Costa Rica, the firms Finca Venecia, La Iguana Chocolate and Agroecological Integral Farm La Milagrosa are the winners of the first “Cocoa of Excellence” contest held in the country and through which these companies were selected to represent Costa Rica in an important international contest.
“Cocoa of Excellence” is the entry point for producers to participate in the global competition, which aims to recognize the work of cocoa producers and celebrate quality, flavor diversity and unique origins. The first phase of this international stage will be held in Rome, Italy, and subsequently, those selected will move on to the International Cocoa Awards 2021 in Paris, France; the most prestigious event on cocoa of excellence worldwide.
The international competition brings together experts in sensory evaluation who analyze flavors, as well as the contribution of knowledge, cocoa evaluation tools, market opportunities and incentives to safeguard cocoa diversity in agriculture, communities, and national organizations around the world.
At the national level, the contest was coordinated by the National Organizing Committee of the Cocoa of Excellence Program, made up of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG for its acronym in spanish), the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX for its acronym in spanish), the Foreign Trade Promotion Agency (PROCOMER for its acronym in spanish), and the Rural Development Institute (INDER for its acronym in spanish), the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE for its acronym in spanish), the National Center for Food Science and Technology (CITA for its acronym in spanish) of the University of Costa Rica, EARTH University, the National University (UNA for its acronym in spanish), and private organizations such as the Costa Rica Passion Consortium, Cacao Consultancy International S.A., and the Costa Rican Institute of Cocoa and Chocolate (ICACAO for its acronym in spanish).
“This activity contributes to the marketing link of the National Cocoa Plan that seeks to promote access and positioning of this Costa Rican product in markets differentiated by origin and quality, under the recognition of fine and aromatic cocoa exporting country, therefore we hope that this contest will be consolidated nationally, as a way to strengthen the capacities of producers in the fermentation and drying processes, seeking to maintain the quality of the final product. For its own part, MAG will continue to support the cocoa sector in technical assistance, technology transfer, organizational strengthening and inter-institutional coordination to consolidate the agro-chain in each of the regions of the country,” said Renato Alvarado Rivera, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.
Duayner Salas, Vice Minister of Foreign Trade added that “cocoa has played an important role in the economic activity of our country, and Costa Rican cocoa is internationally recognized for being 100% fine and aromatic. Cocoa is one of the discoveries with which we intend to give a boost to this agricultural activity, through the Descubre platform and other commercial support programs. Initiatives such as this contest enhance the efforts, we have been making to support the competitive advantages of products such as our cocoa in international markets. Finally, we extend our congratulations to these companies for their excellence in cocoa production, and we are sure that they will represent our country on a high level”.
Pedro Beirute, General Manager of PROCOMER, added, “This contest allows us to promote our country in international markets. As it is a quality cocoa with differentiating characteristics, it targets gourmet niches. That is why we must take full advantage of national recognition and the participation of these companies in this international contest, so that the name of Costa Rica also sounds like that of a producer and exporter of 100% fine and aromatic cocoa, where we do not compete by volume, but by added value”.
The ” Cocoa of Excellence” contest was able to obtain 21 samples from producers in different parts of the country, six of which are exporting organizations or have export potential. The samples underwent the following stages:
• Coding and repacking to ensure process transparency
• Physical analysis of grains
• Transformation to liquor
• Tasting weighting
• Selection of the three best samples at national level
The three winning companies will be covered the registration fee for the international competition, support with the process and logistical shipment of their samples, preparation of a technical report of the selection process, feedback from an International Technical Committee regarding their sample, among others.
About the National Technical Committee
This organization is responsible for:
• Oversee the implementation of the Cocoa of Excellence Program at the national level in an inclusive and participatory manner.
• Ensuring that all stakeholders in the country can participate.
• Ensuring that rules are followed, and confidentiality is respected.
• Publicize the Cocoa of Excellence Program and its guidelines at the national level and promote the participation of cocoa producers from different regions.
• Ensure that high quality samples representative of the country’s cocoa diversity is selected and submitted to the Cocoa of Excellence Program.
• Ensure that each selected grain producer keeps a safety duplicate of at least 5kg of the same grain, safely stored until the edition is completed in December 2021. This is in case of damage, loss, or any doubt about the quality of the grain.
• Ensure that the results are communicated to participating producers during the edition and the results of the selection of the 50 best samples in July 2021.
The leading exporting country of fine and aromatic cocoa at the present time is Ecuador, which accounted for 56% of the total tons exported worldwide in 2018. It is followed by the Dominican Republic (19%) and Peru (12%). This product is mainly consumed in Western Europe (Netherlands, Germany, or France) and to a lesser extent in the U.S. Costa Rica ranks 13th (in terms of value) as an exporter. The average price of cocoa exports from Costa Rica in 2016-2017 was $3,331 USD/MT and in 2017-2018 was $3,321 USD/MT.
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