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  • 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.


    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?

    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.

    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?

    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.

    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.

  • January 09, 2020 5:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bill GuytonDear Members and Partners,

    As FCIA celebrates our 12th year anniversary, we look back on some of our recent accomplishments and forward to exciting new opportunities in the decade ahead.

    Modernizing Our Look

    In late 2019, FCIA hired professional designer Jonathan Wajskol of Design Wajskol, to develop a more contemporary logo for our association. Please explore our website to see the results of the new look and feel!

    The logo script includes an enlarged “C” which signifies not only “chocolate” but also our growing and inclusive, fine chocolate “community”. Please help us by updating your weblinks with the new logo.

    Growing Our Membership

    FCIA has moved beyond our roots of a U.S.-centric association to embrace members from many other geographies in recent years, including Europe, Latin American, Asia, and Africa. In total, we had 70 re-joining and new members in 2019 – they include chocolatiers, chocolate makers, pastry chefs, traders, farmer groups, equipment suppliers, packagers and others.

    Our new members bring energy, innovations, business linkages and a more international focus to FCIA. Our 2020 goal is to expand our membership by at least 15 percent. We offer discounts to current members who successfully recruit new members.

    Improving Market Knowledge

    FCIA partnered with the National Confectioner’s Association (NCA) in 2019 to conduct a nationwide survey of chocolate consumers. The results provide insights into the trends as well as tastes and preferences of fine chocolate consumers across the United States. The complete report is posted on the “members only” section of the FCIA website.

    Members will not want to miss Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics on March 5, 2020 at FCIA’s Elevate Chocolate Event in San Francisco, where she will present the survey findings.

    Providing Educational Opportunities and Business Linkages

    In 2019, FCIA hosted our signature Elevate Chocolate Events in both San Francisco and New York. We also organized four regional meetups in California (2), Georgia and Brazil. In addition, we held two webinars on cocoa supply chain partnerships in Latin America and Cote d’Ivoire as well as a webinar on cadmium mitigation, which was co-hosted with Bioversity International. The latter attracted over 75 participants! (Download the presentation from the cadmium mitigation webinar.)

    In 2020 we are planning further educational webinars, especially for those of you who are unable to attend in person conferences.

    For our conferences, FCIA has adopted a new format which will provide broader business linkages for our members and direct marketing access to consumers. Please mark your calendar for the following:

    January 19-21: FCIA Fine Chocolate Pavilion at SFA Fancy Food Show, San Francisco
    FCIA will host our first ever Fine Chocolate Pavilion at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, giving our members and the organization opportunities to build direct business relations with retailers and other specialty food sectors. The pavilion will feature 25 company exhibitor kiosks and nine educational speakers and panels. FCIA members attending the show receive a discount on ticket prices. (More information)

    March 5-6: FCIA Elevate Chocolate 2020 Event and Trade Fair, San Francisco
    Registration is now open for FCIA's Elevate Chocolate 2020 Event, in partnership with the Craft Chocolate Experience. Our event will include four general session speakers, ten technical workshops, and a day-long trade fair for those companies seeking to expand their business networks. (More information)

    March 7-9: Craft Chocolate Experience San Francisco
    Those members who stay on after Elevate Chocolate can participate in a discounted booth at the Craft Chocolate Experience to engage with and sell products to consumers. (More information)

    March 26-27: Quality Flavor Cocoa Market Opportunities for Cote d’Ivoire Conference
    Cote d’Ivoire will host the first national “Quality Flavor Cocoa Market Opportunities for Cote d’Ivoire" at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan. One hundred fifty participants are expected to attend the event, including international experts, producers, exporters, public-private stakeholders from the quality flavor cacao market segment. Discussions will include flavor quality initiatives, market and production opportunities and to learn more about the Ivorian potential on the world market.

    The event is organized by the USDA-financed Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA) initiative implemented in Cote d’Ivoire by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA in partnership with USAID-financed World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) African Cocoa Initiative (ACI II), and the Ivorian Cocoa-Coffee Council. High-level representatives from the U.S. government representatives, ICCO, FCIA, World Cocoa Foundation and others will attend. For more information, please contact Bill Guyton or conference2020@cnfacotedivoire.org.

    May 28-29: Cocoa Regional Summit in Partnership with FCIA: Quito, Ecuador
    FCIA is assisting company members and partners to hold a two-day workshop in Quito, Ecuador. If you are planning to tour origin, this is a good time to schedule. For more information, please contact Bill Guyton.

    June 26: FCIA Event in New York, followed by Fancy Food Show on June 28-30
    FCIA will hold a one-day educational forum in New York, featuring presentations from a variety of experts. This event will include tastings and pairings, and is included as part of the FCIA membership package. More details to follow.

    Supporting Fine Cocoa Supply Chain Improvements

    FCIA is actively involved in efforts to improve cocoa quality and direct market linkages between cocoa growing countries and our member companies. We are excited about the new partnerships with US Department of Agriculture (USDA), non-government organizations, and cocoa producing country representatives.

    FCIA is also working closely with our sister organization, the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP). We encourage all of our members to view the new HCP videos, which bring their important work on cacao flavor preservation to life!

    Public-Private Partnerships

    In 2019, USDA and partners launched a new regional program called Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cocoa in the Americas, or “MOCCA.” FCIA is working closely with Lutheran World Relief and other partners to assist our members with more direct market linkages to cocoa farmer organizations in the region. We recently hired Mey Choy Paz, who is based in Lima, Peru, to provide direct support to the program and our members in the areas of sensory analysis and sourcing of quality cocoa.

    Defining Cocoa Quality Standards

    FCIA and our members are working with Bioversity and other partners to develop cocoa quality standards. Please visit cocoaqualitystandards.org for a list and description of the seven protocols that have now been adopted by the International Standards for the Assessment of Cocoa Quality and Flavor (ISCQF). The seven protocols cover aspects from physical evaluation of cocoa beans to sample preparation into cocoa liquor. The Protocol for Cocoa Liquor Sensory Evaluation will be published this month.

    Thanking FCIA Leadership and Staff

    FCIA is fortunate to have a dedicated board who provide ongoing leadership and direction. In addition, there are four active committees;

    • Events/Education
    • Communications/Market Research
    • Quality Standards and Supply Chains
    • Membership Services/Benefits

    Each of these committees is chaired by leaders in our industry who volunteer their time and expertise. Finally, I wanted to personally recognize our outstanding FCIA staff. Jennifer Wicks, Nicole Price, and Mey Choy Paz each bring professionalism, passion, and unique skill sets to FCIA that are complemented by Cynthia Closkey and her communications team at Shift Collaborative.

    I have so much optimism for FCIA and its members and look forward to the year ahead.

    Best wishes,

    Bill Guyton
    Executive Director

    Re-joining and New Members in 2019

    Alquimia, American Caribbean Experience, Antonio Guimaraes, Beyond Good By Madécasse, Biocacao De Ecuador, Bisou Chocolate, Cacao Hunters, Cacao Pacifico, Cemoi Inc., Chitram Chocolates / Infusions Cafe, Chocolatier Eve, Clasen Candy Inc., Color Cacao, Compañía Colombiana De Cacao S.A.S., Conrad Solanzom, Criollo Chocolatier, Diogo Vaz, Dorigenn S,A,S, El Colaboratorio, Emkao Foods Inc., Eye Candy Chocolatier, Federacion Nacional De Cacaoteros, Fermata Chocolate, Fintrac Inc., Fjak Chocolate, Fu Wan Chocolate Ltd., Graciela Café, Grupo Biz Colombia Sas - Chuculat, Grupo Suagu Sas, H.R. Zeppelin Fine Handmade Chocolates, Honeymoon Chocolates, Ian Scott Confections, JBM Packaging, K+M, Kathryn Grasso, Keville Handcrafted Chocolates, Kimberly Chisholm, Kokoa Kamili Ltd, Labon Sweets, Manoa Chocolate Hawaii, MDW Chocolates, Midunu Chocolates, Moises Davidovits, Moka Origins, Mountain Food S.A.S, Myr Trading, Nederland USA, Olam Americas, Opening Chocolate, Ór Dubh Chocolates, Painted Horse Chocolates LLC, Planet Choco, Procolombia, Pure Mill Chocolate, Raaka Chocolate, Remy Joachim, Sandra Couttenye Chocolat, Sara May's Gourmet, Sean Taylor, Secret Society Of Chocolate Philanthropists, Síij Chocolate Ancestral S A S, Sphaeris Capital Management, Sra Kko, Tabar Group Of Islands Co-Operative Cocoa Project (TGICCP), The Touring Chocolatier, To'Ak Chocolate, United By Chocolate, University Of Georgia, Victoria Amores, Xocolata Times

  • December 17, 2019 5:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA members receive the following discounted rates on descriptive analysis profiles from Attribute Analytics.

    Custom profiles:

    • 25% off 5 + profiles or $750 each
    • 50% 10+ or $500 each

    See the attached flyer from Attribute Analytics. 

  • October 22, 2019 12:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Caputo’s will be spotlighting Omnom Chocolate from Reykjavik, Iceland at the 8th Annual Caputo’s Chocolate Festival, where Utah’s trend setting chefs and beverage experts will craft chocolate-based creations to benefit the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative.

    This year’s culinary lineup will include the following local establishments: Normal Ice Cream, Pallet Bistro, Nomad Eatery, The Farm in Park City and Table X Restaurant. Talented chefs will showcase unique Icleandic flavors of Omnom Chocolate in a variety of gastronomic applications, both sweet and savory. The evening will offer inspired cocktails from Water Witch, Sugarhouse Distillery and Bar Daddy, local brews from T.F. Brewing and Epic Brewing Company, and cozy pour overs by La Barba Coffee Roasters.

    The 8th Annual Caputo’s Chocolate Festival takes place on Thursday, November 14th, beginning at 7:00 PM at the Downtown Caputo’s Market & Deli (314 West 300 South, Salt Lake City). Admission is $45; $70 with alcohol pairings (highly recommended). Space is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance on Caputo’s website: https://caputos.com/classes-and-events/. All proceeds from the Chocolate Festival are donated to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative. 

    Photos from last year’s chocolate festival can be viewed here.

    ABOUT Caputo’s Market & Deli: Caputo’s is Utah’s leading purveyor of regional Italian and Southern European foods, winner of numerous specialty food awards, and an advocate for bean-to-bar craft chocolate. With four locations across Salt Lake Valley, Caputo’s has solidified its position as one of the nation’s best specialty food markets, with a mission to promote and preserve culinary traditions of our ancestors. Highlights include cave aged cheeses from their state-of-the-art cheese caves and one of the largest collections of craft chocolate bars in the world, all which can be found online at caputos.com

    ABOUT Omnom Chocolate: What started as nothing more than an experiment, Kjartan Gíslason and childhood friend Óskar Þórðarson took over an abandoned gas station in Reyjakvik's downtown area and Omnom Chocolate was born. Having been classically trained, Chef Kjartan was already familiar with terms like single origin and cacao. “Just like wine, beer, cheese or kimchi, chocolate is the labour of a lot of patience, from growing the cacao pods until the bar is safely melting in your mouth." Naturally, after sourcing some of the finest cacaos from all around the world, his focus narrowed in on flavors and textures. Today, Omnom is revered as a craft chocolate favorite, incorporating unique Icelandic ingredients into the art of chocolate making. This November, Chef Kjartan and team Omnom will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to exhibit at Caputo's Annual Chocolate Festival. We invite you to experience the flavors of Iceland in our Salty City.

    ABOUT Heirloom Cacao Preservation: The HCP is a non-profit collaboration between the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and the United States Department of Agriculture to genetically identify strains of heirloom cacao that are extraordinary and unique in flavor and quality and preserve them in the face of an agricultural system that is quickly killing them off. For more information, visit hcpcacao.org.

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

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