By Bill Guyton, Executive Director
One of the questions I am asked most often at FCIA is, “How do you define fine chocolate?” As the only organization 100 percent devoted to the promotion fine chocolate, FCIA needed common language to define our important segment of the chocolate industry.
In early 2019, FCIA’s board of directors, assisted by the communications committee, addressed this challenge by adopting new language on fine chocolate.
Fine Chocolate Definition
Fine chocolate is defined in terms of its flavor, texture and appearance, as well as how its limited ingredients, high cocoa and low sugar content, are sourced and processed.
Sensory: Fine chocolate makers are committed to coaxing the unique flavors from each bean, allowing the consumer to experience complex flavors from the terroir of various regions and countries. Textures should be smooth and creamy, unless purposely creating unrefined chocolate.
Visual: Fine chocolate professionals are committed to creating stunning visual experiences through perfectly finished products which are often artfully designed.
Processed: Fine chocolate makers and chocolatiers use artisan methods to create minimally processed chocolate with flavor complexity.
Sourcing: With a commitment to the farmer, fine chocolate makers use ethical practices to source the highest quality flavor beans and cocoa, often from single countries of origin and individual growers.
U.S. Consumer Perceptions, Buying Patterns, Views on Fine Chocolate: New Survey Results
Although fine chocolate represents 5 percent or less of chocolate market sales, it has one of the fastest growth segments of the industry. In 2019, FCIA in partnership with the National Confectioners Association (NCA), completed an extensive survey of over 1,500 U.S. consumers to better understand their perceptions of buying habits.
I will be co-presenting the “Getting to Know the Chocolate Consumer” survey on May 22, 2109 at the Sweets and Snack Expo in Chicago, as well as on June 22 during the FCIA Membership Assembly in New York City. FCIA members are invited to view the findings in advance in our “members only” section of the FCIA website.
Embracing Our Diverse Membership
FCIA members lead the industry in innovations, passion, and producing amazing, quality chocolate products. Our membership is made up of fine flavor cacao growers and producers; chocolate makers; chocolatiers; suppliers of ingredients, packaging, equipment and services of fine quality products; pastry chefs; marketers, writers, bloggers and educators; specialty retailers, wholesalers, festivals, and niche purveyors of fine chocolate. This diversity is one of our strengths, yet it also presents us with one of our challenges: how to meet the needs of such a varied group.
During our Elevate Chocolate Summer 2019 event on June 22, 2019, we have several approaches to serving this diversity. We will hold chocolate maker, chocolatier, and pastry chef “huddles” to gain better insights on the priorities from our members. We will also feature both “chocolate maker” and “chocolatier” sampling tables during the Gallery Showcase from 5-7:30pm of the event. No matter what part of the fine chocolate spectrum you are in, you will not want to miss this one-day event!
FCIA also recently re-launched chocolate maker and chocolatier forums on our “members only” section of the website to allow a free exchange of ideas tailored to the needs of different segments of our membership.
We are proud to be able to represent and serve such a wide array of members, and we look forward to continuing to find new opportunities to support the efforts of all who inhabit the world of fine chocolate.