Ecuador’s production of cocoa cannot match the global cocoa superpowers in West Africa in terms of gross output, but many chocolate connoisseurs feel Ecuador is tops in terms of quality. While many multinational companies turn to Africa for the base of their processed chocolate treats, smaller artisan chocolatiers look to Ecuadorian cocoa to provide the complex tastes they crave.
The Cacao Bean
Did you know? (Some levity while you are under house arrest)
The next time you unwrap a candy bar, think about this: It takes a whopping 400 to 500 cacao beans to make just one pound of chocolate, according to Ag Hires and the Hershey Story. And making and harvesting cacao is no easy feat, either. It takes up to five years for cacao trees to yield their first crop of cacao pods, and the plants are notoriously picky about their growing conditions, requiring humidity, frequent rainfall, and sufficient soil drainage. When they do become productive, the trees yield an annual harvest of 20 to 30 pods, which take four to five months to grow and ripen. Each pod contains between 40 and 50 cacao beans that have to be extracted, fermented, and dried before use — making the creation of a pound of chocolate a pretty arduous process!
You can try to b*llsh*t me about fine Belgian or Swiss chocolate, but the cacao bean is originally from the Amazon. And who produces the most? The Ivory Coast supplies 30 percent of the world’s total cocoa, leading the rest of the world by over half a million metric tons with a total crop of 1,448,992 tonnes. Companies like Nestle and Cadbury receive much of their cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Cocoa alone is responsible for almost two-thirds of the trade revenue coming into the nation.
When I was in Ecuador, they claimed to be the largest supplies of chocolate.Ecuador’s cocoa industry is one of the world’s oldest: in the Ecuadorian Amazon, archaeologists recently discovered traces of cocoa in pottery more than 5,000 years old. This long history is honoured today, with the nation’s total output weighing in at 128,446 tonnes.
The top four countries responsible for the production of chocolate are the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. It is estimated that, while Western Europe accounts for approximately 35% of total world chocolate production, the U.S. accounts for an additional 30%. Interestingly, none of the major producers of chocolate are major sources of cocoa, and none of the major cocoa-producing countries are major chocolate manufacturing centers.