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Cocoa Quality in South and Central America and the Caribbean
As seen from the data in Table 2.1, this region is now a modest cocoa producing area involving cocoa growing across a vast geographical area of varying climatic conditions, with a number of very small cocoa producing countries, including a selection of fine or flavour producers. In many of these cases, their supply chains are very long and thus they are at something of a competitive disadvantage to the larger producers of West Africa who can offer parcels of several thousand tonnes of cocoa at a time.
The diversity of the types of cocoa from this area makes quality generalizations difficult, save to point out the very considerable disease problems faced by these cocoa growers; many are afflicted with the devastating witches' broom disease (Brazil, parts of Colombia, much of Ecuador, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, parts of Venezuela) and some are also affected by moniliophthora as well (Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama), a cocoa disease which is still spreading and, as yet, has no economic method of control.
These problems do have an effect on buyers' perceptions of cocoa quality and their plans to do business with exporters in these countries. There is an increasingly large domestic chocolate market developing (Brazil, Colombia) using locally grown cocoa beans and this trend is expected to continue. In fact, the ravages of witches' broom disease on Brazilian cocoa production have led to recent importing of beans (from Cote d'Ivoire) to satisfy the local market for chocolate. The marketing systems are generally liberal ones, with only limited government involvement in quality control in some countries in the regions.
The majority of Cameroon cocoa production is from Trinitario planting material which produces beans with a high fat content in comparison to the other cocoas from West Africa and a powder with a specific red coloration. This ability to provide red colour is much sought after by the specialist cocoa powder vendors (many of whom are located in the Netherlands or Germany) who, with considerable skill, manufacture a wide variety of cocoa powders of various colours and fineness for speciality cakes, biscuits and confections and sales are often at premium prices. Buyers of Cameroon cocoa are only concerned about quality if the cocoa does not achieve a fair fermented grade (less than 10% defective beans). At any higher level of defects, there is a real risk that the fFa level will be high and so the fat content and quality of the beans may be reduced.
Cocoa in Cote d'Ivoire is moved very quickly from the farm gate to export warehouse and thus in an economic sense the cocoa industry in Cote d'Ivoire
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