Paris, Salon du chocolat – Following a selection and evaluation process of 223 cocoa samples submitted from 55 countries, 50 entrants shortlisted for the 2019 Edition of the International Cocoa Awards (ICA) waited with anticipation to hear the results. Read on to find out who the 20 winners are and why these awards matter for the future of our chocolate supply.
On 30 October, during an exclusive evening ceremony attended by over 500 cocoa and chocolate professionals, the 20 International Cocoa Award winners were celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat, Paris, shining the international spotlight on the work of cocoa farmers and the diversity of cocoa around the world. Every two years, the Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Programme, spearheaded by Bioversity International (now the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT) and Salon du Chocolat, recognizes quality, flavour and diversity of cocoas according to their origin. Cocoa diversity is vital for production, as it provides the different flavours, resistance to pests and diseases, as well as resilience in climate changes. Providing incentives for safeguarding cocoa diversity to farmers and national organizations ensures a portfolio of options remain available for the future.
The Cocoa of Excellence Programme is the entry point for cocoa producing countries to participate in the International Cocoa Awards. This year we celebrate its 10th Anniversary. Over this past decade, it continues to increase awareness and promote education along the cocoa supply chain about the opportunity to produce high quality cocoa and the need to preserve flavours resulting from genetic diversity, the terroir and the know-how of the farmers who prepare cocoa. This unique international programme celebrates and values cocoa beans and the work of the cocoa farmers. They are the ones recognized on the international stage.
For the 2019 Edition, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme received 223 samples of cocoa beans, originating from 55 countries. After a detailed physical quality evaluation, the beans were carefully processed into liquor for blind sensory evaluation by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme Technical Committee, a panel of international cocoa and chocolate experts. Following this evaluation and a robust data analysis, the best 50 samples were selected and processed into chocolate (following the same recipe of 66% cocoa) for sensory evaluation. This evaluation included 35 experts from a broad range of professions - from chocolatiers to chocolate sensory evaluation experts - from 12 countries including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Jury members have expressed in a recent opinion survey if that the main reason to take part in this blind evaluation is the simple curiosity to explore the diversity and unique flavours of these cocoas without pre-conceived ideas, as countries and regions are not revealed. Many mentioned believing strongly in the vision and objectives of the CoEx Programme and are proud to be part of this prestigious international competition solely dedicated to cacao. Most attended the ICA Ceremony and are visiting our stand at the Salon du Chocolat.