The Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Program is the entry point for cocoa producers to participate in the International Cocoa Awards, a global competition recognizing the work of cocoa farmers and celebrating the diversity of cocoa flavors. Every two years, this unique program spearheaded by Bioversity International and Event International recognizes quality, flavor, and diversity of cocoas according to their origin.
By bringing together leading sensory evaluation experts, the chocolate industry and the next generation of cocoa pioneers, the Cocoa of Excellence Program recognizes and rewards cocoa with exceptional and unique flavors, while bringing know-how, cocoa evaluation tools, market opportunities and incentives for safeguarding cocoa diversity to farming communities and national organizations globally.
Objectives of the Cocoa Of Excellence Program
- Increase awareness and promote education along the cocoa supply chain on the opportunity to produce high-quality cocoa and preserve flavors resulting from genetic diversity, “terroir”, and know-how of the farmers who prepare cocoa.
- Facilitate communication and linkages between cocoa farmers/producers and operators in the supply chains.
- Stimulate and increase capacity of producing countries to recognize, seek out and preserve quality and diversity in cocoa.
How the Cocoa of Excellence Program works
What makes cocoa excellent?
- Good trees (genetics).
- Well-cared for and grown in a suitable environment.
- Pods correctly harvested.
- Good practices to keep the trees healthy and free of pests and diseases.
- Optimum fermentation and drying protocols specific to the type of beans.
- Know-how for processing cocoa beans and for chocolate making.
Why is cacao diversity so important?
Genetic diversity in cacao is declining. This is a serious problem because it increases the vulnerability of cacao to sudden changes in climate and to new pests and diseases.
Factors contributing to declining genetic diversity
- Habitat loss due to natural disasters and extreme weather.
- Destruction of the Amazon rainforests—center of diversity and home of cacao.
- Loss of traditional varieties grown.