The firms Finca Venecia (Brunos Chocolate), La Iguana Chocolate and Finca Integral Agroecológica la Milagrosa (Meykiss Chocolate) are the winners of the first contest “Cocoa of Excellence” that was held in the country and through which these companies were selected to represent to 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, diversity of flavors and unique origins. The first phase of this international stage will take place in Rome, Italy, and subsequently, the selected ones will go on to the International Cocoa Awards 2021 in Paris, France; the most prestigious event on cocoa of excellence worldwide.
The international contest 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 the diversity of cocoa in agriculture, communities and national organizations around the world.
At the national level, the competition was coordinated by the National Organization Committee of the Cocoa of Excellence Program, made up of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX), the Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER), the Rural Development Institute (INDER), the Tropical Agronomic Center for Research and Teaching (CATIE), the National Center for Food Science and Technology (CITA) of the University of Costa Rica, the EARTH University, the National University (UNA) , and private organizations such as the Costa Rica Passion Consortium, Cacao Consultancy International SA and the Costa Rican Cocoa and Chocolate Institute (ICACAO).
“This activity contributes to the commercialization 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 an exporting country of fine and aroma cocoa, therefore we hope that this contest is consolidated at the national level, as a way to strengthen the capacities of the producers in the fermentation and drying processes, seeking to maintain the quality of the final product.
For its part, the MAG will continue to support the cocoa sector in technical assistance, technology transfer, organizational strengthening and inter-institutional coordination to consolidate the agro-chains in each of the country’s regions, ”said Renato Alvarado Rivera, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock.
Importance of Cocoa
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 it is intended to give a boost to this agricultural activity, through the Discover platform and other commercial support programs. Initiatives such as this contest enhance the efforts we have been making to support competitive advantages with products such as our cocoa in international markets. Finally, we extend congratulations to these companies for their excellence in the production of cocoa, we are sure that they will leave the representation of our country high”.
For his part, Pedro Beirute, General Manager of PROCOMER, added: “This contest allows us to position our country in international markets. Being a quality cocoa with differentiating characteristics, it targets gourmet niches. That is why we must make the most of the 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 aroma cocoa, where it is not we compete by volume, but by added value”.
From all the country
The “Cocoa of Excellence” contest managed to obtain 21 samples from producers from different parts of the country, within which six organizations are exporters or with export potential. The samples were subjected to the following stages:
Coding and repackaging to ensure process transparency
Physical analysis of the grains
Transformation to liquor
Selection of the three best samples nationwide
The three winning companies will be covered for the registration fee for the international contest, support with the process and logistical shipping of their samples, preparation of a technical report on the selection process, feedback from an International Technical Committee regarding their sample, among others.