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  • April 03, 2020 3:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA is grateful to UMAU Cacao for being the lunchtime sponsor at the FCIA Elevate Chocolate Event on March 7 in San Francisco. This is the first time in two years that FCIA was able to offer lunch as part of our conference, thanks to the generosity of UMAU Cacao.

    We are UMAU CACAO by Colombian Cacao Company. We have planted the best cacao varieties in 750ha inside our Monteoscuro farm, located in Cimitarra, Santander, Colombia. We are developing cacao productive ecosystems through post harvesting plants located in different regions in Colombia. Our commitment is founded in providing producers technical assistance seeking to achieve better & higher production and to develop social and environmental standards; all these efforts in order to get better prices for our associated producers.

    In these times of uncertainty and reflection, our company does not stop. We are working at 100% capacity, with the necessary measures to take care of the health of our collaborators and associated producers in all Colombian regions where UMAU CACAO has presence. While you take care of your family, we are taking care of the plantations, our magical cocoa trees and our people.

    We are sure after this event; we will become more stronger than ever!

    Greetings from Colombia! and please be safe!

  • March 21, 2020 10:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA would like to share with you the following FAQ related to COVID-19. Information was largely sourced from the FDA, the National Coffee Association, and other allied trade associations and partners. We hope this will be useful to you as you work to protect yourselves and your businesses from this new threat.

    1. What are the 2019 novel coronavirus and COVID-19?

    Coronaviruses (CoV) are a family of viruses that cause symptoms ranging from mild (like those associated with common cold) to severe, causing pneumonia and requiring hospitalization. The 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of CoV not previously seen in humans and causes the disease COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

    Read more: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

    2. How is the novel coronavirus spread?

    The novel coronavirus is spread from human-to-human interactions via respiratory droplets expelled through coughing and sneezing. It spreads easily between people in close physical contact with one another.

    Learn more about how the novel coronavirus spreads on CDC’s resource page, “How to Prepare for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

    3. Can the novel coronavirus be transmitted via food?

    According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), food does not appear to serve as a source or transmission route for coronaviruses.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes:

    “…In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.” 

    4. What can my company do to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?

    It is advisable to always follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) in food production, including practicing good worker hygiene (see response #5, below) and practicing proper sanitation. This is in line with the FDA’s GMP regulations from “Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk Based Preventive Controls for Human Food” rule.

    5. Since restaurant workers and other service industry employees have ongoing contact with the public, are there any special precautions these workers should take to avoid becoming sick with a respiratory illness, such as wearing masks? 

    CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear facemasks to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

    CDC recommends everyday preventive actions for everyone, including service industry workers and customers:

    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

    Questions 6-10 are excerpted from the FDA’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) FAQs:

    6. Is food imported to the United States from China and other countries affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), at risk of spreading COVID-19? 

    Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

    7. Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or food contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?

    Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the four key steps of food safety — clean, separate, cook, and chill.

    8. Can I get COVID-19 from a food worker handling my food?

    Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in some communities in the U.S. The CDC recommends that if you are sick, stay home until you are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

    Anyone handling, preparing and serving food should always follow safe food handling procedures, such as washing hands and surfaces often and taking temperatures between shifts.

    9. Should food workers who are ill stay home?

    CDC recommends that employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick. We recommend that businesses review CDC’s interim guidance for businesses and employers for planning and responding to coronavirus disease. Also see the FDA’s Retail Food Protection: Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook.

    10. Should food facilities (grocery stores, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, etc.) perform any special cleaning or sanitation procedures for COVID-19? 

    CDC recommends routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. CDC does not recommend any additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning at this time.

    View the EPA-registered disinfectant products on the Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list that have qualified under EPA's emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

    Restaurants and retail food establishments are regulated at the state and local level. State, local, and tribal regulators use the Food Code published by the FDA to develop or update their own food safety rules. Generally, FDA-regulated food manufacturers are required to maintain clean facilities, including, as appropriate, clean and sanitized food contact surfaces, and to have food safety plans in place. Food safety plans include a hazards analysis and risk-based preventive controls and include procedures for maintaining clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces. See: FSMA Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food.

    11. Is COVID-19 likely to impact food or other supply chains?

    The potential impact of coronavirus on trade and supply is uncertain. Thus far, international trade in finished and intermediate goods has seen some significant impacts, which may continue as manufacturing and farm capacity, ground transportation, and sea freight conditions continue to evolve in China and other affected countries.

    The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reported in February that previous pandemics such as Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) had negative impacts on food trade and prices, particularly in developing countries.

    12. Are there food shortages and are supply lines at risk?

    There are no food shortages in the U.S., and the food supply is safe. Out-of-stock issues are due to a spike in demand and not low supply. The U.S. Government considers food and agriculture to be part of the nation’s critical infrastructure -- If manufacturers or distributors encounter problems getting products through supply lines and onto store shelves due to local shelter-in-place orders or other blockages, they should contact FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center at NBEOC@fema.dhs.gov.

    13. Should our company cancel travel and/or events?

    Circumstances for each traveler and event are not the same. Here is the CDC’s latest guidance for travelers.

    14. Additional Resources:

    As the situation is rapidly evolving, we advise members to closely monitor the advice and guidance of relevant authorities for the most updated facts and information about COVID-19, including:


  • March 19, 2020 12:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear FCIA Members and Partners,

    Our thoughts are with our members and partners during the COVID-19 crisis. As mentioned in our previous message, FCIA is organizing webinars and email communications to keep our community updated on important topics related to your business.

    We are also moving forward with our on-going partnership with the Fancy Food Show this June 2020 in New York City. Here is an outline of our plans:

    • June 27, 2020: FCIA is planning a half day conference at the Javits Center for our members and partners. This will be followed by an FCIA reception in Brooklyn at KahKow.
    • June 28-30, 2020: FCIA is planning our FCIA Fine Chocolate Pavilion within the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center. Over 35 kiosks will be available for FCIA members. We will also have access to a separate stage area for demonstrations and pairings.

    More details will follow in the coming days.

    Thank you.

    Bill Guyton
    FCIA Executive Director

  • March 17, 2020 7:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear FCIA Members and Partners,

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting FCIA's Pavilion at the Fancy Food Show in January, as well as our Elevate Chocolate event in March. These two events in 2020 helped raise the profile of the fine chocolate industry and strengthened our association. We could not have done it without you!

    As you are aware, the current national COVID-19 crisis is having a detrimental impact on governments and businesses across the globe. Given safety concerns, FCIA and our partners have decided to postpone an important Cocoa Summit in Ecuador this May. We are also closely monitoring conditions leading up to our next scheduled FCIA Pavilion at the Fancy Food Show in New York this June. Please stay tuned.

    In the meantime, FCIA will continue to utilize various means to support our members including webinars and other digital communications. Please stay safe and know that we are committed to supporting and keeping you connected.

    Regards,
    Bill

    Bill Guyton
    Executive Director, FCIA


  • March 12, 2020 2:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The MOCCA/USDA program, in cooperation with Lutheran World Relief, has published the first newsletter on cadmium. The main objective of MOCCA is to provide research results that are relevant to farmers, so that they can be better informed and prepared to make sound decisions for the management of their cocoa crop. They invite collaboration in building the content of future editions, to be published bi-monthly. 

    MOCCA newsletter #1 in English 

    MOCCA newsletter #1 in Spanish

  • February 24, 2020 7:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Registration is open for CocoaTown's next bean to bar workshop on
    April 1-3, 2020. See the attached flyer for more details.

  • February 05, 2020 11:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Check out this article by Clay Gordon in Serious Eats. "Serious Chocolate: First Three, Now Ten Genetically Different Kinds of Cacao" talks about a proposed new classification of cacao that would include 10 groups rather than the traditional 3. 

  • February 01, 2020 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New Opportunities Abound for Chocolate & Cacao Suppliers, Makers, and More

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) has taken a new approach to their traditional events calendar and announces a partnership with the Craft Chocolate Experience: San Francisco to highlight their flagship industry event, Elevate Chocolate 2020.

    Photos from past Elevate Chocolate eventsFCIA’s Elevate Chocolate events are known for their valuable cross-disciplinary networking and knowledge-sharing. Partnering with the Craft Chocolate Experience, a festival-style celebration of craft chocolate.

    Registration to Craft Chocolate Experience is open to the public, which will broaden exhibitor exposure to the public and further raise awareness of FCIA members and of fine chocolate.

    Elevate Chocolate 2020 will be held at the historic Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, CA, on March 5-6, 2020.

    Registration is open at www.finechocolateindustry.org/Spring2020Event.

    President of the FCIA Board of Directors, Brad Kintzer, says, “FCIA continues to grow year by year. Expanding our Elevate Chocolate event allows our community to strengthen ties among ourselves, while also raising the profile of fine chocolate with the public.”

    The theme of Elevate Chocolate 2020 will be Celebrating Fine Chocolate Flavors from Around the World. The event will include four general session speakers, ten technical workshops, and a day-long Trade Fair. Attendees will have opportunities to exchange insights and information, building their businesses and working to raise the profile of fine cacao and chocolate among a larger audience.

    Find the full agenda with workshop description and speaker bios online.

    Discussions will cover key topics relevant to the fine chocolate industry, such as cocoa supply chain and quality sourcing strategies, marketing and communicating fine chocolate to a larger audience, and best business practices. The Trade Fair will display exhibitions by companies and individuals across the industry of fine chocolate, including chocolate makers, chocolatiers, bean traders, farmer groups, equipment suppliers, and more. (See the list of exhibitors.)

    The conference will also include a regulatory update, a report on the results of a business survey conducted by the National Confectioners Association and FCIA in 2019, and updates from the Heirloom Cacao Program. Supplementing the information and educational opportunities will be an opening reception, featuring a performance by dancers from Peru and tasting tables by chocolatiers and chocolate makers.

    Pair of dancers from Peru




  • January 24, 2020 6:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    In her latest article, fine chocolate writer & blogger Antonella Tromba of Foodensity researches and recaps the macro-flavor trends and strategic tips that fine chocolate brands could contemplate for sales boost in 2020.

  • January 09, 2020 5:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jody and her family eating ice cream  Jenny Samaniego

    Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate is a small, family-owned business based in Empire, Michigan. The company sources most of its chocolate from Ecuador in a unique relationship with Jenny Samaniego at Conexión Chocolate. In this article, Jody Hayden of Grocer's Daughter Chocolate and Jenny Samaniego share how the partnership works, their views on the industry, and more.

    Q For Jody Hayden: Can you explain how your partnership with Jenny and Conexión works?

    Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate and Conexión Chocolate have forged a unique partnership. Jenny does the hard work of sourcing the cacao and developing the chocolate recipes. She also supervises the production of the chocolate at a factory in Quito, which creates a shorter feedback loop to farmers, allows good paying manufacturing jobs to remain in the country of origin, and reduces overall costs for production.

    We rely on Jenny and her brand, Conexión, to source 100% of our couverture from 4 different small-farmer groups: Esmeraldas (UOPROCAE), Manabi (Fortaleza Del Valle), Los Rio (APOVINCES) and Puerto Quito (Juan Carlos Mesias and neighboring farmers). We’re fortunate to be able to travel with Jenny to Ecuador annually to visit farmers and we strive to create mutually beneficial relationships along our entire supply chain. In return, we receive rave reviews from our customers about the quality of our chocolate. It’s a win-win for everyone.

    Q For Jenny Samaniego: Conexión has been working for a number of years in Ecuador with small scale cocoa farmers. You are now selling bean-to-bar chocolate, including bars with HCP designation. Can you explain how Conexión is able to improve bean quality, along with ensuring better environmental stewardship and incomes to farmers?

    All the steps of the chocolate making process are carried out in Ecuador, starting with the continuous visits that we make to the farms. We build close relationships with each farmers cooperative so that we can communicate the quality principles that are required in the harvest and post-harvest processes. Working together with the cooperatives, we zoom in on harvest areas within each province that we search for our cacao. This allows us to ensure that the cacao comes from the same trees and increases the consistency of flavors in our couverture and chocolate bars.

    We make all of our chocolate with Nacional cacao, a genetic variety that only exists in Ecuador. We pay the producer 25% to 30% more than market price, if it meets our required standards of cacao fermentation. In this way we hope to motivate producers to continue preserving Nacional cacao, by offering them a different option from the common market.

    We developed a project with the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund and the farmers cooperative APOVINCES to save old varieties of Nacional growing in Los Ríos Province. This cacao has an amazing aroma of flowers and fresh fruit, so we developed a special flash-roast process to preserve it. This is our Virgin chocolate line, which we sell as both couvertures and chocolate bars. We look to strengthen ethical cacao farming practices, the lives of cocoa farmers, and education.

    Q: FCIA is proud that many of our member companies are women-owned and operated. Do you find this unique to the fine chocolate industry? What are the specific challenges and opportunities for women-owned businesses in fine chocolate?

    Jody:
    I’m delighted to see more and more women with exceptional leadership skills at the helm of businesses and organizations in the fine chocolate industry. Going forward, the industry has the opportunity to further elevate women leaders by offering access to education, mentoring and honest story-telling. Some of the topics I think might be useful to women business owners include financial literacy, how to access affordable capital, sharing of business experiences (good and bad), leadership development, and cultivating employees.

    As a woman business owner and an older mom of young children, my specific challenges are driven by my desire to be a present, loving mom, wife, friend, and employer, while overseeing and growing a small business. It’s a balancing act every single day.

    Jenny:
    It’s great that there are more women-owned and operated businesses within fine chocolate and generally. Personally, I have benefitted from mentors and peers in the industry who are both men and women. Early in my career I had the opportunity to work for French chocolatier Pierrick Chouard, and that was part of my inspiration to create excellent single-origin Ecuadorian couvertures with Conexión years later.

    When I was just starting my chocolate business, approaching different farmers cooperatives as a young person and as a woman, it was hard to get them to trust me as a partner. But, I worked hard, and when they saw that I came back to visit and buy more cacao, I gained their respect. I think for anyone, if you work hard and keep at it, you get what you’re looking for.

    Q: FCIA partnered with the National Confectioners Association (NCA) this year on a nation-wide survey on chocolate consumers. Do the findings mirror the preferences and trends that you are noticing with your customers? Are you optimistic about the growth potential of the fine chocolate market?

    Jody:
    I am optimistic, and here’s why: We are seeing an annual increase in customers seeking us out because we offer higher cacao percentage chocolates, and fewer, more natural ingredients. This bodes well for our entire industry.

    Jenny:
    It’s not just the US that has a growing number of fine chocolate customers. In Ecuador, we’ve seen this market increase so much in the past decade. I think the FCIA and NCA study is spot-on that consumers are more concerned with their health and wellbeing, and with the social and environmental effects of their food choices.

    We are very committed to educating consumers here in Ecuador on fine chocolate. We Even do public tastings, because we feel it is important to connect Ecuadorian consumers with their own heritage. We talk about how Ecuador is the origin of the Nacional variety of cacao, how it tastes floral and fruity unlike other chocolates, and how it’s disappearing now as farmers switch to monocultures.

    Before they talk to us, a lot of people think European chocolate is the most luxurious or ‘best’ chocolate, but in fact Ecuador used to supply a lot of the cacao to those old European brands. The town of Vinces, where our project with HCP is today, used to have so many people traveling from there to France to trade chocolate that it became known as Little Paris. We want to build pride about chocolate made in Ecuador and chocolate made in the Americas.

    Q: Conexión and Grocers Daughters have joined with FCIA and other partners to host a Cocoa Summit in Quito, Ecuador in May 2020. Can you tell us more about the conference, its objectives and why companies should consider attending?

    We are excited to host our second Cacao & Chocolate Summit in Ecuador, and thrilled to have FCIA co-hosting this year. The first Summit was an amazing opportunity to have fine chocolate makers and cacao farmers from the same country sitting at the same panel. It was a gathering of the whole value chain, and we were all able to make connections and learn from each other. For chocolatiers who bought our couverture to see the farmers that harvested it was amazing, and for the farmers to see the chocolatiers demos was very affirming as well.

    This year the Summit has been extended to two days instead of one, and there will be another day of chocolate workshops for chefs and chocolatiers. The panels include farmers, makers, chocolatiers, scientists, international non-profits, and governmental officials all together in one space discussing the most pressing issues in fine chocolate.

    In addition the FCCI will be holding their cacao grading class, as they did last year. Also in connection with the Summit, we will lead another one-week Cacao Expedition, visiting cacao farms and cooperatives in the many regions of Ecuador. For anyone interested in seeing first-hand the diversity and beauty of Ecuadorian cacao, please get in touch.

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Executive Director / Membership Inquiries: Bill Guyton / 1.206.577.9983 / Email Bill

Event Manager: Nicole Price / 1.312.953.4541 / Email Nicole

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