Dear FCIA Colleagues,
This month marks the midterm of my two-year appointment as FCIA Board President. It is an honor for me to be part of this distinguished trade association, representing the very best in the chocolate industry. Fellow officers Lauren Adler, Dan Domingo, and I look forward to working with the newly elected board this year. Together, we will continue to provide strategic direction and build on the strong foundation of our outgoing board. At the top of FCIA’s agenda will be developing new initiatives in a “post-COVID economy” as we recover and grow our businesses. We are planning virtual and hybrid conferences, educational webinars, online sales platforms, and many other support services to help connect and advance the fine chocolate market.
To hear more about our 2021 plans, please make sure to join the new board members, committee chairs, and FCIA staff on January 28 at 1 pm ET during FCIA’s Membership Assembly Meeting. This one-hour meeting will directly follow Sander Wolf’s presentation “Think Outside the Booth: Maximize Your Chocolate Festival Experience”. As a reminder, FCIA Membership Assemblies are open to all active members.
Despite the COVID pandemic, FCIA continues to grow. I am pleased to report that during the last quarter of 2020, FCIA added 18 new companies and professionals. At present, we have over 300 members including cacao farmers, chocolate makers, chocolatiers, ingredient suppliers, packaging and equipment suppliers, pastry chefs, marketers, specialty retailers, wholesalers, and festival organizers. FCIA is the only professional trade association dedicated 100% to the support and promotion of fine chocolate. We rely on membership dues to support operations and programs. Therefore, please make sure and join or renew your membership for 2021 if you have not already done so.
One of FCIA’s greatest strengths is our ability to innovate and partner with organizations inside and outside our association. In closing, I wanted to share with you some of the major achievements in this area and plans for 2021:
- FCIA Educational Webinars: One of the pillars of our COVID-19 strategy has been weekly educational webinars, which are offered complimentary to FCIA members. Our members decide on the topics and often are featured in these hour-long sessions attended by roughly 100+ a week. These webinars have opened doors to new partnerships.
- Trade Shows and Festivals: FCIA has partnered with Specialty Food Live! this month, a virtual trade show which will feature our own “Fine Chocolate Pavilion”. We are also partnering with Chocoa in the Netherlands this coming February, where we will co-host panels for chocolate makers. We are also excited to return to in-person consumer festivals, including the Dallas Chocolate Festival and Northwest Chocolate Festival in 2021.
- Cocoa Supply Chain Programs: We are very excited about the new partnership with the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) in Latin America and the Caribbean. IAF brings many years of experience working with farming communities and supports over $4million annually in cocoa programs in the region.
- Market Research: FCIA will partner again with the National Confectioners’ Association (NCA) on a national survey of chocolate consumers this year. We also worked in collaboration with Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) to share important information on the impact of COVID-19 on fine chocolate sales and the cocoa supply chain in 2020.
- Online Market Sales and Consumer Education: FCIA launched Make Mine Fine in 2020, which now hosts over 100 company members who offer online sales to consumers. In addition, the site provides education on cocoa-growing countries, chocolate demonstrations and experiences information, and blog posts. Over 15 different partners have co-sponsored the site, with FCIA.
- Regulatory and Trade: FCIA and NCA co-hosted a regulatory update last year for our members, in partnership with PMCA, RCI, and AACT trade associations. This session touched on several specific and timely topics. Another session will be held in 2021.
- Cocoa Quality and Flavor Standards: Along with Bioversity International/CIAT, FCIA and select companies have been meeting monthly to develop protocols on cocoa quality standards. Field tests of these standards are now underway in several Latin American Countries.
I look forward to talking with you in the coming weeks and wish you all the success in the new year!
President of the Board, FCIA