As Chocoa 2020 wraps up another year, and in the shadow of so many events cancelling because of the Coronavirus, we can say that it was a pretty big success. Exhibitors from Africa, Asia, India, South America, Russia and Europe gave visitors an opportunity to compare a wide variety of products under one roof.
Awareness of speciality chocolate is growing among the mainstream consumers, who are willing to pay a premium for a superior and fairly produced product. ‘Bean to Bar’ is no longer considered a buzz word, but something desirable and not as difficult to attain as before.
For some, this is the only event they will go to where they can meet every part of the supply chain. We met a Peruvian farmer with a small plot of land who had a small production of bars for drinking chocolate using fine Peruvian Criollo beans.
Starting with the Bean
We had a chance to taste some of the beans, which had a very distinctive flavour compared to the other beans we tasted at the show. They also looked very pretty inside with an almost iridescent violet colour I’m not sure I did justice with the camera.
The farmers in Peru work land that is the average size of only 2 hectares each and in total the industry employes something close to 50,000 in the cultivation and production. The yield per hectare will typically vary from 1 to 2.5 metric tons.
The stand next to him was Kontiti, a company using the farmers’ beans to make beautiful designs, several of which I purchased to take back with me.
Artisan Chocolate Design
Design is definitely part of the chocolate story, and artisans are using their talents to tell a story both with the packaging and with the chocolate itself. Perhaps I am a sucker for a good story, but I fell in love with the Russian packaging designs – two companies, in particular, had very different approaches but equally beautiful and unique.
Using wrapping designs as a Unique Selling Point is a differentiator between brands, and especially important to help justify the premium price that consumers must pay for the quality chocolate. It’s all part of the experience that makes the buyer feel they are getting something more than a bar of chocolate. The design might speak to the buyer about the country of production with pictures of national birds, or be a reference to the farmers and the natural unspoilt quality of the ingredients.
For me, now that becoming an Artisan chocolate maker is more approachable than ever before, it is going to be exciting to see what their creativity will produce.
Processing Machines for Bean to Bar
Although the design and tasting of chocolate is the sexy end of the business, none of it would be possible were it not for the availability of affordable machines for processing and packing.
We are interviewing some of the machine manufacturers for a separate article, but there has never been a better time to be an Artisan chocolate maker than today. From roasting to wrapping, there is available an ever-growing selection of machines at an affordable level for many startups. The ability to start operations on a modest budget removes a barrier to entry that would otherwise hold back some budding entrepreneurs.
2020 is starting out to be a great year for chocolate lovers!