Cocoa Production: Venezuela
For a contrast I thought I’d now mention a South American producer. Despite their first forays into cocoa production, they’re not such prolific growers these days. Venezuela isn’t even the biggest South American producer (that accolade goes to Brazil) but I chose this country, as it’s renowned for its extremely high quality cocoa.
Venezuela did, at one time, claim the title of the world’s biggest cocoa producer but that was way back in the seventeenth century and a lot has changed since then. The beans grown are the Criollo variety and these are said to be the finest in the world. This makes Venezuelan cocoa extremely sought after by prestigious chocalatiers creating fine chocolate products.
It’s the South American countries generally that specialize in growing this variety and, as it’s not so easy to cultivate as other varieties it tends to be grown with less abundance. As there is a finite stock of beans in Venezuela, producers will often sell an entire harvest to one chocolatier directly, saving the hassle and price of going through a middle man. There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of buyers, as the quality tends to speak for itself.
There has also been something of an organic revolution in Venezuela of late with a number of farmers opting to grow their trees organically. These beans can command a far higher price and, again, this appeals to the more high-end chocolatiers with an upmarket clientele. Now I love a good bar of chocolate but when desperation calls, I’m just as happy with a cheap brand from the corner shop as a box of handmade chocs!