COCOA SAMPLES PROVIDERS

All participation is coordinated by a National Organization Committee in each cocoa-producing country.

Providers of cocoa bean samples for the Cocoa of Excellence Programme can be individual farmers, groups of farmers, cooperatives, estates, or national research centres that have shown their interest to participate and are able to produce high quality cocoa samples.

The selection and sending of all bean samples to the Cocoa of Excellence Programme is the responsibility of the National Organization Committees.

If you wish to participate, please contact your National Organization Committee and stay informed about events and specific requirements and conditions nationally. The National Organization Committee decides the required weight of samples at the national level, depending on their choice of sample evaluation and selection methods.

If you wish to participate and your country is not listed please contact the Cocoa of Excellence Programme coordination.

Cocoa sample providers should be aware of that:

  • All cocoa samples should be accompanied by a completed Data Form with all information available on the producer, origin and mode of preparation of each sample. The bean producer is responsible for the quality of the information provided with each sample.
  • Producers are encouraged to enclose photos of pods (both open and closed) from 5 trees and, if feasible, photos of cut fresh beans and close ups of flowers. The maximum size of the photos should be 4MB.
  • Only experimental samples may be produced through a “micro-fermentation” method.
  • No samples from modified or “artificial” fermentations with addition of flavour material, fruit pulp or juices are accepted.
  • It is advised, although not required, that the bean producer maintains a duplicate of a 5-6 kg sample of each of the submitted samples of beans in storage at their location pending receipt and initial evaluations of the submitted sample. This is recommended in case of damage or loss of the initial sample as well as against any questions of bean quality.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION COMMITTEE

Each participating cocoa-producing country should set up a National Organization Committee which may consist of representatives of one or more of the following stakeholder groups:

  • Research and development institutions
  • National cocoa boards
  • Quality control centres
  • NGOs
  • Export promoting institutions

The National Organization Committees play a crucial role in ensuring that representative and high-quality samples reach the Cocoa of Excellence Programme. They are encouraged to select samples that represent the range of diversity of cocoa and cocoa producers of the country and to give preference to new sample providers or those that have not previously won an International Cocoa Award.

The National Organization Committee is responsible for:

  • Overseeing the implementation of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme at the national level, ensuring that rules are applied, confidentiality is respected and anonymity ensured.
  • Announcing the Cocoa of Excellence Programme and its guidelines nationally and encouraging cocoa farmers from different regions to participate.
  • Receiving samples from cocoa producers and categorizing samples as commercial or experimental. No more than 30% of samples per country may be experimental.
  • Evaluating the received samples and selecting the best samples that represent the country.
  • Ensuring that all samples comply with the Cocoa of Excellence quality standards.
  • Ensuring a minimum of 5 Kg of well-prepared, fermented and dried beans for each sample.  Samples of less than 5 Kg may not be accepted.
  • Ensuring that there is no more than one sample per producer and no more samples than the quota per country is sent to the Cocoa of Excellence Programme. If more samples are sent, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme reserves the right to eliminate samples.
  • Ensuring that all bean samples are accompanied by a completed Data Form with all information available on the producer, origin and mode of preparation of each sample.
  • Ensuring that appropriate phytosanitary certificates are obtained.
  • Sending the bean samples to the Cocoa of Excellence Programme as soon as they are ready, preferably from November 2016 to be received no later than 28th of February 2017.
  • Covering the cost of shipment of all bean samples sent to the Cocoa of Excellence Programme.
  • Following shipping instructions to avoid import tax costs for the Cocoa of Excellence Programme.
  • Following the procedures in these guidelines to ensure that all samples meet the requirements and conditions of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme. Samples that do not meet the Programme requirements may not be traceable and therefore cannot be considered.
  • Including the Check List to ensure that conditions are met.
  • Sending the feedback reports received from the Cocoa of Excellence Programme at the end of the Edition to each of the sample producers.

COLLECTING AND STORAGE OF THE COCOA SAMPLES

The National Organization Committee is responsible for the collection and receipt of the cocoa bean samples at the country level and to store the samples in adequate conditions before shipping to Bioversity International. The following procedures are recommended:

  • Damaged or empty beans and remaining placentas are to be removed before bagging.
  • The use of clean and odour-free jute, cotton or nylon bags is recommended.
  • Storage should be in an insect-free cool room, where the beans are protected from excessive humidity (above 70%) and abnormal odours.
  • Samples should be stored separated to avoid that abnormal odours or causes of infestation is transmitted from one sample to another.
  • Fumigation should be performed under expert supervision and according to national requirements to eradicate insect species.
  • A phytosanitary certificate from the authorities of the country of origin is desirable.
  • Shipment is to be done as soon as samples are available and properly aged. The beans should be stored for a minimum of 6 weeks after drying.

NOTIFICATION: It is advised, although not required, that the bean producer maintains a duplicate of a 5-6 kg sample of each of the submitted samples of beans in storage at their location pending receipt and initial evaluations of the submitted sample. This is recommended in case of damage or loss of the initial sample as well as against any questions of bean quality.

EVALUATION AND SELECTION OF THE COCOA SAMPLES AT THE COUNTRY LEVEL

The purpose of the evaluation of the samples is to select the best samples that represent the country as a whole. Samples received by the National Organization Committee should be acknowledged and verified to ensure that the moisture content, cut tests, presence of defective beans, mouldiness, smoky flavours, etc. of the fermented beans are all within acceptable limits. Please ensure that all samples comply with the Cocoa of Excellence quality standards and regulations.

The evaluation and selection of cocoa samples should be under the guidance of national or international experts in cocoa quality and sensory evaluation.

We highly recommend that you consult the CAOBISCO/ECA/FCC Cocoa Beans: Chocolate and Cocoa Industry Quality Requirements. September 2015 (End, M.J. and Dand, R., Editors), which provides an extensive overview of harvest and post-harvest procedures, internationally accepted cocoa quality standards, and quality testing methods. This guide can be downloaded from www.cocoaquality.eu.

SHIPMENT OF THE COCOA SAMPLES TO THE COCOA OF EXCELLENCE PROGRAMME

The National Organization Committee should send a minimum of 5 kg of each of the bean samples as soon as they become properly aged and available, preferably from November 2016 and to be received no later than 28th February 2017.

Samples submitted of less than the required 5 kg may not be accepted.

Samples should be sent in suitable containers, at least made of rigid carton, to avoid loss or contamination of cocoa beans. Please make sure that bags are strong and well-sealed, to avoid any breakage and loss of beans during transport. It is recommended to use plastic snap seal bags.

The cost of the shipment is covered by the sample provider or by the National Organization Committee.

IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION: All courier shipment (e.g. DHL, FedEx, etc.) should indicate that the content is a sample of fermented and dried cocoa beans without commercial value. Please put a symbolic value of 5 (five) USD as the value of the package. This is important, otherwise customs will retain the package and charge import taxes.

The samples should be sent to be received by 28th February 2017 to:

Silvia Araujo de Lima (Bioversity International)

1990 Boulevard de la Lironde, Parc Scientifique Agropolis ll
34980 Montferrier sur Lez, France
Tel: +33(0)4 67 61 13 02

Email: s.delima@cgiar.org

The completed Data Form with detailed information on each of the samples should be sent by email to: Silvia Araujo de Lima (Bioversity International) - email: s.delima@cgiar.org

Please also include a printed copy of the form in the sample package.

Please inform Bioversity International by email (Silvia Araujo de Lima) of when shipment is made, the name of the courier, and the courier’s tracking number, so that we can trace the parcel in case of need.

It is required that the completed Check List is printed and enclosed in the sample package.

COCOA OF EXCELLENCE PROGRAMME AND TECHNICAL COMMITTEE

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme is responsible for overseeing the implementation at the international level and ensuring that rules and regulations are applied, confidentiality is respected and anonymity is ensured during the entire evaluation process.  

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme establishes a Technical Committee responsible for the evaluation of each sample and for the selection of samples in a transparent and fair manner. It advises on all technical processes including quality evaluation standards and selection of the expert panel for the evaluation of the best 50 samples. 

RECEIPT AND PHYSICAL EVALUATION OF THE COCOA SAMPLES

Each sample is given an anonymous identification code, which ensures that the sample remains anonymous during the evaluation, blind tasting and nomination procedures.  

Samples received by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme are acknowledged and verified to ensure that the moisture content, cut tests, presence of defective beans, mouldiness, smoky flavours, etc. of the fermented beans are all within acceptable limits. Beans with evident off-flavours or with other defects above internationally acceptable thresholds are not considered for further evaluation.

EVALUATION OF THE COCOA LIQUOR AND CHOCOLATE

All accepted cocoa samples are processed into cocoa liquor and evaluated (blind tasting) by a panel of international experts in sensory evaluation.  The best 50 high quality samples, representing different cocoa producing regions globally, are nominated for the International Cocoa Awards and processed into chocolate mini-bars to be evaluated blindly by a larger panel that includes professional chocolate manufacturers and traders.

INTERNATIONAL COCOA AWARDS

Between 3 and 5 samples from each of the 4 cocoa regions receive an International Cocoa Award (honourable distinction, without money value) to be celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, 28th October to 1st November 2017.

INFORMATION AND DETAILED FEEDBACK REPORTS ON EACH COCOA SAMPLE

The outcome of the assessments by the experts and juries are treated as confidential, unless specifically indicated by the sample provider.  

For the best 50 samples, information on the chocolate sensory evaluation and contact information of the producer is made public on the Cocoa of Excellence website. Information for samples that have not been selected among the nominated 50 samples will not be made public. 

Individual and confidential feedback reports for each bean sample received by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme is prepared at the end of the Edition and sent to the National Organization Committee to be communicated to each bean sample producer.  The feedback reports include the results of the physical bean evaluation, the liquor and chocolate sensory evaluations and recommendations in the case of samples not nominated for the International Cocoa Awards.  

Unless there are specific objections, this information is used for scientific analysis and reporting whilst ensuring anonymity.

 

PART B: REQUIREMENTS FOR SUBMITTING COCOA SAMPLES

SAMPLE QUOTAS PER REGION & COUNTRY

For logistical reasons, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme has limited the total number of samples to be received based on a maximum quota for each participating country.

The allocation of sample quotas for cocoa producing countries, for the 2017 Edition, is based on the following two criteria:

1.   Basic quota: the basic sample quotas are based on the ICCO cocoa production forecasts for 2015-2016.

2.   Additional samples: Evidence of cocoa diversity and quality in individual countries based on participation in previous Cocoa of Excellence Programme Editions. An additional sample will be added to the quota of countries that have received an International Cocoa Award in the 2013 and/or 2015 Editions, to a maximum of 2 additional samples.

IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION:

The National Organization Committee is responsible to ensure that:

  • No more than one sample per producer is sent to the Cocoa of Excellence Programme.
  • No more samples than the quota per country is sent to the Cocoa of Excellence Programme.
  • If more than one sample per producer is received, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme reserves the right to eliminate samples to keep only one.
  • If more samples than the country quota is received, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme reserves the right to eliminate samples.


TYPES OF BEAN SAMPLES

The sample can be from two types of cocoa beans: commercial samples or experimental samples.

      I.            Commercial Samples are prepared by cocoa farmers/producers from existing commercial plantations, or group of plantations, representing traditional or improved/modern cocoa varieties from different geographic/climatic origins. It should be possible to reproduce the same quality cocoa at commercial scale (several tonnes per year) in subsequent years.

   II.            Experimental Samples are derived from interesting new varieties (newly selected varieties or materials with special quality traits) or through new post-harvest processes (e.g. novel fermentation method, etc.). These potentially interesting experimental samples may not be available yet for commercial scale production, but may become so within a few years’ time. These samples may be prepared by cocoa farmers or by research institutes.

IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION: 

  • No more than 30% of samples per country may be experimental samples.
  • Only experimental samples may be produced through a “micro-fermentation” method.
  • No samples from modified or “artificial” fermentations with addition of flavour material, fruit pulp or juices are accepted.

APPEAL: MAKE DIVERSITY A SAMPLE SELECTION CRITERION:

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme aims at recognizing and empowering a wide group of cocoa producers globally. National Organization Committees are therefore encouraged to select samples that represent the range of diversity of cocoa and cocoa producers of each country and submit samples of different genetic bean types, terroirs and/or prepared by using different post-harvest protocols. National Organization Committees are encouraged to give preference to new sample providers or those that have not previously won an International Cocoa Award. It is at the discretion of the National Organizing Committees to allow a past International Cocoa Award winner to participate in the 2017 edition. The Cocoa of Excellence Programme strongly encourages that samples from previous winners of the International Cocoa Awards should be from a different genetic bean type, terroir and/or post-harvest process than those samples that already received an International Cocoa Award.

COCOA SAMPLE QUALITY STANDARDS

Cocoa bean samples should be selected based on their high quality and consistency. Moreover, it is recommended that if possible, samples should be harvested in the main harvesting season. All samples should be well processed, in order to preserve and enhance their potential flavour development.

DESIRABLE QUALITY OF COCOA SAMPLES
  • The presence of defective beans should be within internationally acceptable thresholds, i.e. maximum 3% mouldy beans, 3% slaty beans and 3% beans with other defects (broken, insect damaged, germinated, rotten or empty beans)
  • The beans should be properly fermented, resulting in moderate bitterness and astringency and low percentages of slaty beans.
  • Purple and partly purple beans should be at a level which allows all positive flavour notes to show through without unsatisfactory and unbalanced astringencies.
  • Only experimental samples may be produced through a “micro-fermentation” method.
  • No additional ingredients should be added to the fermentation, i.e. flavour material, fruit pulp or juices.
  • The beans must be properly dried and the moisture content should be between 6.5% and 7.5%.
  • The beans should be stored for a minimum of 6 weeks after drying and before shipping to allow the flavour to equilibrate prior to flavour testing.
  • The beans must be free from abnormal odours.
  • The beans should be free from the presence of off-flavours, i.e. smoke, mould, earth, dirty or excessive acidity, bitterness and astringency.
  • The bean should be reasonably free from foreign matter and cocoa residue, i.e. broken, flat, shrivelled and clumped beans or placenta, pod husk or shell fragments.
  • The beans should be free from any evidence of adulteration.
  • The beans should be reasonably uniform in size.
  • A bean count of 100 beans or less per 100 gram is desirable, but not required.

All activities in cocoa production, management and processing ultimately affect flavour development and bean quality. We highly recommend that you consult the CAOBISCO/ECA/FCC Cocoa Beans: Chocolate and Cocoa Industry Quality Requirements. September 2015 (End, M.J. and Dand, R., Editors), which provides an extensive overview of harvest and post-harvest procedures, internationally accepted cocoa quality standards, and quality testing methods. This guide can be downloaded from www.cocoaquality.eu.

APPLIED QUALITY CRITERIA FOR ACCEPTING OR REJECTING COCOA SAMPLES

Samples with obvious defects in preparation should be eliminated by the National Organization Committee.

Samples received by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme are acknowledged and analyzed to ensure that the moisture content, cut tests, presence of defective beans, mouldiness, smoky flavours, etc. of the fermented beans are all within acceptable limits.  

Samples with evident off-flavours or with other defects above internationally acceptable thresholds are not considered for further evaluation.

Samples with the following defects will be rejected by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme:

  • Moisture content of more than 8.5%
  • Infested with insects
  • Displays disqualifying levels of internal mould (>4%)
  • Displays critical defects, such as off flavours, minimal amount of mouldy beans, beans and % beans with other defects (broken, insect damaged, germinated, rotten or empty beans)

IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION:

With the purpose of recognizing and celebrating cocoa genetic diversity globally, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme will not accept samples from modified or “artificial” fermentations, i.e. samples where a starter culture, flavour material, fruit pulp, juices or inoculum media has been added to the fermentation.

DATA ON EACH COCOA SAMPLE

The bean producer is responsible for the quality of the information provided with each sample. The National Organization Committee is responsible for ensuring that each sample is accompanied with the complete data and for the quality of the information provided with each sample. Samples that are not accompanied with the requested information are not traceable and are not considered for further evaluation.

REQUIRED DATA FOR EACH BEAN SAMPLE

A completed Data Form is required, with all information available on the producer, origin and mode of preparation of each sample.

Sample providers and National Organization Committees should use the Excel Spreadsheet format provided by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme.

Please include a printed copy of the completed Excel Spreadsheet data form in the shipment and send an electronic copy by email to Silvia Araujo de Lima at: s.delima@cgiar.org.

Photos of pods (both open and closed) from 5 trees and, if feasible, photos of cut fresh beans and close ups of flowers would be useful in order to classify and handle each sample correctly. The maximum size of the photos should be 4MB.

Samples that are not accompanied with a completed data form are not traceable and cannot be considered.

PURPOSE AND USE OF DATA

 What the information is used for:

  • Classifying, evaluating and processing the samples correctly and to facilitate reproducibility of obtaining samples with the same quality profiles.  And particularly the following:
  1. Information about the genetic bean type is used to determine the roasting conditions, which are different for each type of cocoa bean to bring out the full potential of flavours.
  2. Information about planting material, farming practices and post-harvest practices is used to develop individual feedback reports with explicit recommendations to sample providers
  3. Information about the scope of production makes it possible to assess and communicate the marketability and reproducibility of each sample.
  • Publishing the contact information for sample providers that are nominated among the 50 best samples and made it accessible for the cocoa and chocolate industry through the Cocoa of Excellence website.
  • Promoting the best 50 samples and the International Cocoa Awards.
  • Producing and sending the feedback reports to each sample provider and National Organization Committee.
  • Producing scientific analysis and reporting whilst ensuring anonymity, unless there are specific objections.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme

IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION:

  • Samples that are not accompanied with a completed Excel Spreadsheet data form are not traceable and will be rejected.
  • Since a key objective of the Cocoa of Excellence programme is to connect buyers with producers, it is critical that the producer make available full contact details, including email address and mobile phone numbers in the Excel Spreadsheet data form. 

 

*Photo from L. Hook, Bioversity*