Peruvian cocoa and chocolate producers taste sweet success in Lima

16 October 2015
ITC News
ITC support to poor communities translates into real trade opportunities.

Peruvian producers of fine and aromatic cocoa are increasing their share of the global chocolate market, thanks to a coordinated effort to improve the quality and standards of their produce. And it is especially through business-to-business (B2B) meetings organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) that doors have been opened.

Peru is recognized by the International Cocoa Organization as one of the few countries in the world that produces fine and aromatic cocoa. Fine flavoured cocoa grows in a variety of regions across Peru, including the coast of Tumbes and Piura, the Amazon areas of San Martín, Amazonas and Ucayali and other rainforest areas in Cajamarca, Huánuco, Junín, Ayacucho and Cusco. Smallholder agriculture accounts for the majority of the native cocoa production in Peru and is the main source of income for the local rural population.

Earlier this year, ITC together with the Peruvian Export and Tourism Promotion Board (PromPerú) sponsored international chocolatiers and chocolate tasters to participate in the VI Cocoa and Chocolate Showcase event and the first edition of Peruvian International Chocolate Awards, which was held in Lima, Peru, on July 2-5. That also enabled buyers and tasters to visit Peruvian cocoa producing regions following the VI Cocoa and Chocolate Showcase to witness cocoa production in the Peruvian Amazon region.

As part of the event, international bean-to-bar chocolatiers from Australia, Belgium, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam engaged in business meetings with Peruvian suppliers of fine and aromatic cocoa. Sales forecasts suggest that preliminary deals of 52 tons of cocoa-based products (cocoa butter, cocoa liquor and chocolate), 15 tons of fine and aromatic cocoa and a sample of 100kg of premium chocolate were made, totalling more than US$300,000.

Supporting indigenous communities through trade opportunities

Beyond the prospective trade results, the business-to-business meetings facilitated by ITC, are also expected to bring significant positive outcomes for rural communities engaged in cocoa growing production.

This is the case of Kemito Ene, the cocoa association of the indigenous Asháninka tribe from the Ene River, which has signed its first ever business contract to sell 10 tons of fine and aromatic cocoa after participating in the B2B meetings organized by ITC. Since 2013, the association has produced cocoa using sustainable practices to ensure forest protection and sustainable livelihoods with the support of The Rainforest Foundation UK.

‘Overcoming the middlemen is certainly a milestone for the Asháninkas. Accessing international markets was their main challenge to thrive in the cocoa business. Having the opportunity to meet bean to bar chocolatiers in the right place, and explain to them who are the Asháninka and why their cocoa is so special, made all the difference,’ said Aldo Soto, coordinator of the Andean Amazon Programme of The Rainforest Foundation UK, who accompanied Kemito Ene. ‘Now the producers are receiving better prices for their fantastic aromatic and sustainable cocoa, and mainly this opens further opportunities to establish other trading relationships.’

Sustainable sourcing of fine and aromatic cocoa has been identified as one of the priority areas for the sustainable development of the agricultural sector in Peru. Cocoa production involves around 45,000 households, thus including around 225,000 persons from different regions.

‘Creating market linkages between smallholder producers and international buyers goes beyond simple business transactions,’ said Ann-Kathrin Zotz, Project Manager at the Trade and Environment Programme of ITC ‘It is about enabling direct, transparent and traceable trade, which allows smallholder producers to receive price premiums for their differentiated products. Smallholder producers play a key role in reducing poverty in rural communities as they are a source of employment and income’.

First Peruvian bean-to-bar chocolate competition

Trade promotion efforts in the fine chocolate industry in Peru will also benefit from the landmark launch of the Peruvian International Chocolate Awards (Primer Concurso Nacional de Chocolate Peruano), the first national version of the International Chocolate Awards.

This initiative aims to position the Peruvian fine chocolate in the international market of premium chocolate. International chocolatiers invited by ITC to participate in the VI Cocoa and Chocolate Showcase were among the judging panel of the Peruvian International Chocolate Awards including the two internationally recognized chocolate tasters Martin Christy, the Judging Director of the International Chocolate Awards, and Maricel Presilla, member of the Grand Jury of the awards.

The establishment of national cocoa tasting networks is essential to promote fine and aromatic cocoa by ensuring regular quality and taste controls as well as to achieve credibility within the international market.