1. What were some of the original reasons that you and other industry leaders founded FCIA in 2007?
Seeing the changes in the industry of using less flavor cocoa over the last 50 years and the emergence of their use in the bean to bar movement led us to want to shine the spot light on some of these classic genetic types. Many famous brands rose to prominence using some of these cocoas but because competitive price pressure started the process of incremental degradation and their original personality was lost.
2. Looking back over the past 12 years, how has the fine chocolate industry evolved? Were there any surprises? How have consumers tastes and preferences changed?
I think the evolution of the fine chocolate industry, which today is centered on the bean to bar movement, has grown tremendously over that last 12 years, maybe to the point of saturation. It was surprising that the growth was so rapid. I’m not sure that consumer preferences have changed, I think they, like Guittard, are always looking for something new. I do think their knowledge of chocolate flavor and its diversity has grown. I think in reaction to that there are many flavored bars with inclusions on the market today. I’m surprised it hasn’t evolved more into fine candy like bon bons, box chocolate or candy bars.
3. As you look towards the next 12 years, what are your hopes for the future of fine chocolate in the United States and abroad?
Over the next 12 years we need to sort through the overabundance of bean to bar products and companies. I’d like to see more use of flavor cocoa in the industry as a whole where flavor is the goal over price. This is good for farmers and good for consumers. I would also like to see more healthful finished confections using fine flavor cocoa.
4. How do you see FCIA evolving over the next decade to meet the needs of the industry?
I think the FCIA will evolve towards more finished healthy specialty creative confections based on unique textures and flavors.
5. You were also instrumental in founding HCP with other industry leaders and USDA. What role would you like to see HCP fulfill? Do you see a relationship between FCIA and HCP?
I think HCP is important especially in partnership with the USDA in linking flavor characteristics with genetics. There really hasn’t been much work in this area and it is a unique partnership. I think the FCIA is a helpful platform that cultivates the relationships between farmers and chocolate producers. It’s what makes HCP work.