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Guittard Chocolate has expanded its flavor quality work in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Indonesia, to protect and preserve the flavors of each country’s cocoa, to address the negative implications of ‘incremental degradation’ of cocoa flavor, as part of its Cultivate Better sustainability platform.
Its Flavor Labs and sensory panel training are part of the company’s sustainability goals prioritizing flavor, quality, and value with investments in education and training to improve farmer livelihoods.
The project is supported by The World Cocoa Foundation, USAID, Swisscontact, and the Millennium Challenge Account.
For example, in 2019, Guittard will expand its Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) sensory training program and bean-to-bar production equipment to produce thousands of samples for farmers and cooperatives to taste their own chocolate.
‘Incremental degradation’ is the result of an industry-wide shift toward breeding cocoa for high yields and disease resistance without any consideration for flavor.
“It takes flavorful, high-quality beans to make great-tasting chocolate, and no one knows this better than the fourth and fifth generation of Guittards who are in charge of this 151-year-old premium chocolate company,” said Gary Guittard.
“Recognizing the need to be competitive in the cocoa market, the flavor labs allow researchers in their respective countries to develop the tools and skills to objectively assess the flavor of different cocoa varieties and incorporate this basic and critical component into their breeding programs together with productivity .”
‘Learn by tasting’
Guittard added most cocoa farmers have not tasted the chocolate made from their beans, nor had the opportunity to taste the differences among the varieties of their country’s cocoa or the results when harvesting, fermentation, drying, and storage are done correctly and when they are not.
The program works with cocoa farmers, cooperatives, and extension agents to “learn by tasting” how their skill and craftsmanship can build value and strengthen customer relationships.
“This all makes good business sense because the company, as well as its customers and supply chain partners, are at their best when there are long-term, consistent sources of high-quality ingredients from stable business partners .”