After four years, the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, releases an updated list of Fine or Flavor Cocoa Producing Countries.
At the latest meeting of the ICCO Ad Hoc Panel on Fine or Flavor Cocoa held in April 2019, the International Cocoa Council amended Annex C of the International Cocoa Agreement (ICA), which has then been finalized and approved in December 2020. The overall objective of the ICCO Ad Hoc Panel on Fine or Flavor Cocoa is to provide reference to key players in the cocoa economy of the percentage of Fine or Flavor Cocoa exported by cocoa producing countries.
Fine or Flavor Cocoa refers to exceptional quality cocoa beans, traded in a premium-incentivized market between parties that normally care about the process to enhance said quality, and bringing diverse aromatic and flavor profiles to finished chocolate products. This segment represents about 6% of global cocoa production (285,000 tons in the year 2018/19.)
The deliberation to establish the percentage of Fine or Flavor cocoa exports is undertaken by a group of independent experts with ample experience in the trade, processing, manufacturing, and testing of Fine or Flavor Cocoa. These independent experts are selected by the ICCO and provide their views and experiences based on each country’s case. All cocoa producing countries are invited to present their case to the Panel to justify the percentage of Fine or Flavor cocoa exported and its inclusion in the list of countries producing fully or partially Fine or Flavor cocoa.
Only governments can apply for fine flavor status in their respective countries.
Companies and cooperatives can support the application, but the dossier must be prepared and submitted to ICCO by governments. Chances to be recognized as a fine flavor cocoa country augment when cocoa exporters in that specific country demonstrate industry-wide recognition as a top 50 winner at the Cocoa of Excellence Awards or a selected designee in the Heirloom Cacao Preservation program.
Once deliberations have taken place, the Panel submits its recommendations to the International Cocoa Council (the supreme body of the ICCO) for its approval and adoption.
The rest of the countries mostly thrives with unvaried percentages of Fine or Flavor Cacao. In contrast, a few countries report either a slight increase (Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Jamaica) or decrease (Papua New Guinea) of Fine or Flavor Cocoa bean export shares.
For the first time, the ICCO Ad Hoc Panel could not evaluate and determine by the date of the formal agreement an exact percentage of Fine or Flavor Cacao for seven countries (Belize, Bolivia, Honduras, Mexico, São Tome and Principe, Venezuela, and Vietnam) already known as Fine or Flavor cocoa bean exporters.