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  • November 16, 2020 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON, DC -- The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) is pleased to announce the following board members for the 2021-2022 term:

    Brad Kintzer -- TCHO Chocolate (President)

    Lauren Adler -- Chocolopolis (Vice President)

    Daniel Domingo -- Cocoa Latitudes (Secretary/Treasurer)

    Maricel Presilla -- International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting/Gran Cacao

    Simran Bindra -- Kokoa Kamili, Ltd

    Dahlia Graham -- Fruition Chocolate Works

    Benjamin Figarede -- Valrhona

    Andal Balu - Cocoatown

    Clark Guittard -- Guittard Chocolate Company

    Jean Thompson -- Seattle Chocolate Company

    Greg D’alesandre -- Dandelion Chocolate

    Laura Santo -- Blommer Chocolate Company

    The new board reflects the diversity of FCIA’s growing membership. “We are excited that chocolate makers, chocolatiers, traders, specialty retailers and processors are well represented on our leadership team for the next two years,” stated Bill Guyton, Executive Director.

    In response to the COVID pandemic, FCIA’s current board developed and launched a new consumer facing website earlier this year to promote online sales. Make Mine Fine Marketplace has listings of over 100 chocolate companies and equipment suppliers as well as educational content about fine chocolate and cocoa growing. FCIA also hosts weekly educational webinars on topics tailored for FCIA members and partners.

    FICA is the only organization focused 100% on supporting fine chocolate professionals representing over 300 members. The association promotes the artistry and craftsmanship of the chocolate professional focused on producing superior products made from premium chocolate and natural ingredients. FCIA believes in using best practices in cacao processing and chocolate production; and transparent labeling and marketing practices. For more information on FCIA, please visit: https://www.finechocolateindustry.org

  • November 10, 2020 12:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA Executive Director Bill Guyton was quoted in an article on the BBC website, "Are your favourite foods at risk of extinction?"

    One of the biggest concerns is changes in rainfall, says Bill Guyton, Executive Director of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) and founder of the World Cocoa Foundation. “Since nearly all cocoa is rain-fed, even modest disruptions in weather patterns impact the production and harvest seasons”, he says.

    Read the full article on the BBC website.

  • November 04, 2020 3:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kahkow Culture is the latest segment of an educational approach to Rizek's passion for cacao & chocolate. Chocolate makers and chocolate lovers can immerse in the cacao and chocolate world by enjoying, learning, and participating in the entire process: from the moment cacao is planted, to tasting exquisite chocolate bars, confections and preparations.

    The podcast will be available on all platforms, including: Spreaker, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Podcast Addict, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio & Castbox. If you have any questions or are interested in collaborating with us, please e-mail us at: info@kahkow.com       

    Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/3jBWbBfReWbOHMXNmpRPlm?si=FrgvbnKITFekN8JQoT3_fg      

  • November 03, 2020 5:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Conexion Chocolate is excited to introduce their new weekly Instagram LIVE chat with guest chefs, chocolatiers and chocolate professionals. Anne Boulley, their newest team member and chocolate ambassador will be hosting these one hour chats that will focus on recipes, interviews and techniques used by professionals using Conexion’s line of couverture chocolates. Available to everyone following their Instagram page (instagram.com/ConexionChocolate/) on Thursdays at 2:30pm EST. 

    Anne will also be sharing demonstrations on various chocolate design and preparation techniques. “We want our customers and followers to know that we are engaged with them and supportive of their business and success. We are blessed to be working with some of the highest quality chocolate in the World and excited to share creations that elevate it.”

    Anne Boulley is a chocolatier that discovered a love for chocolate work after her years of food writing, working as a pastry chef and owning her specialty chocolate shop; she also conducted classes for professionals and one-on-one culinary consultations.   Anne joined Conexion Chocolate to be a part of a woman owned business that is focused on sustainable, direct trade fine chocolate. “It’s very important that I associate with people in the business that I admire and respect and ingredients that I can be proud to use and promote. I’ve found that with Conexión Chocolate.” Anne emphasizes. It’s our desire at Conexión Chocolate to bring about a connection between chocolate growers, makers and chocolatiers.

    Visit Conexión Chocolate's website 

  • November 03, 2020 5:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Calling all chocolate lovers! 

    The Northwest Chocolate Festival will take place this weekend, November 7-8, virtually! There is programming from chocolate experts from around the world, sharing their love of chocolate and their expertise through exclusive interviews and workshops. 

    This event is free - click here to join!

    Workshops begin at 10am
    Saturday & Sunday, November 7th & 8th


    View a schedule of events here 

  • October 14, 2020 4:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Lauren AdlerBy Lauren Adler, FCIA Board Vice-President, @ChiefChocophile

    A lot has changed since we gathered in San Francisco for Elevate Chocolate in March. It was the last in-person gathering I attended, as I’m sure it was for many of you. San Francisco went into lockdown a few days later, and my hometown, Seattle, quickly followed suit.

    I had no idea at the time that it would be at least a year, possibly longer, before I would see my chocolate friends and colleagues in person again. But thanks to the FCIA’s new webinar series, I haven’t lost touch with you. In fact, the webinars have opened a broader portal into the world of chocolate. From the safety of my desk I’ve visited Ecuador and Peru, I’ve heard the story of Hershey’s acquisitions of Scharffen Berger and Dagoba, I’ve toured the post-harvest processing facility of a cacao company in the DR and I’ve listened to chocolatiers in Ghana talk about doing business in the US and Africa.

    The webinars untethered us. They created an opportunity for us to engage with a broader group of colleagues around the globe. The webinars are a reminder that we need to hear from the diverse voices that make up the fine chocolate industry. We need to make it a priority to be more inclusive in our programming and in our perspective.

    Our virtual membership assembly in August included a panel discussion led by Dr. Kristy Leissle and featuring Andal Balu of CocoaTown and Selassie Atadika of Midunu Chocolate speaking about their experiences as minority-owned businesses. It was an open and honest discussion that illustrated the challenges minorities face in areas that many of us take for granted. A result of their panel is a task force led by Andal to develop concrete actions the FCIA can take to support minority-owned businesses.

    The webinars, the panel discussions, the task force, and our committees are all driven by you, the members. FCIA is a membership organization. We are as good as our membership and those who get involved in helping set the direction of the organization. If you want to contribute to our direction join a committee. Let Bill Guyton, the FCIA Executive Director, know if you would like to join one of our existing committees, which include Education, Supply Chain Value, Membership and Communications or join the task force on minority-owned businesses. I joined the Education Committee years ago before I decided to run for a Board seat.

    Living with uncertainty has become a reality for all of us. Some have been able to pivot their businesses to respond to the changing times, but not everyone has been able to do that. I decided to close Chocolopolis after twelve years, a decision I made before COVID. While it is never easy to close a business, the decision can be freeing, giving you time to re-energize as you figure out how you want to engage with chocolate in new ways. Whatever direction you take, FCIA is here to support your business.

    I wish all of you a prosperous holiday season.

  • October 14, 2020 2:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Minority business owners face unique barriers to entry and commercial growth in fine chocolate, and that racial inequities span the entire value chain. As these barriers are increasingly brought to light, the FCIA is committed to taking meaningful action.

    On July 23, we held a discussion with panelists Selassie Atadika of Midunu Chocolates (Accra, Ghana) and Andal Balu of CocoaTown (Alpharetta, GA, USA), who highlighted specific challenges they have encountered as minority business owners in fine chocolate. The panel was moderated by Dr. Kristy Leissle, Cocoapreneurship Institute of Ghana (Accra, Ghana).

    Subsequently, a taskforce was formed to help identify and deliver concrete actions for FCIA in the short and medium term. We had the opportunity to interview each of the members. Please follow the links below to read the interviews.

  • October 14, 2020 2:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Andal BaluYou have been in the industry for many years and currently serve on FCIA’s board of directors. Why do you think there is a lack of diversity in the fine chocolate industry and what can be done to remedy this?

    • Affordability – FCIA events always happen in New York or San Francisco. These are expensive cities to find accommodation in addition to the airfare. Lot of minorities are also struggling economically and for a small business and mostly one person operation, cost prohibitive to attend or join FCIA.
    • No clear message from FCIA that minorities are welcome – The chocolate industry by and large in USA and Europe appears to be monocultural. Minorities feel that there is no-one like them and they feel intimidated.
    • Role models in FCIA - Limited minority representation as speakers or as members. Minorities do not see minority leaders and experts represented in FCIA events, webinars, or seminars.

    Actions for FCIA:

    • FCIA should also live stream in-person events on Facebook or any other online platform. Or even creating a simple recording of the events and making it available on FCIA website will help minorities and economically challenged chocolate-makers.
    • Cultural education
    • On the FCIA website, include a message that FCIA wants to be a diversified association and does not discriminate based on race, religion, ethnicity, or economic status.
    • Invite more minorities to participate in the webinars.
    • Ask for suggestions from participants about any meal restrictions.

    Can you share with us the action plan developed by the taskforce?

    • Mentoring program (including access to capital)
    • Increase exposure and visibility of minority owned business (articles, webinars, share the mic)
    • Develop targeted message and outreach
    • Establish country contacts/encourage trade missions
    • Improve cultural sensitivity at trade shows and during networking opportunities

    CocoaTown logoCocoaTown designs, develops, manufactures, distributes/sells and services specialty machines for small-batch craft chocolate businesses. What do you believe had been your key to success in growing your business, and what advice would you give to other minority businesses in terms of scaling their businesses?

    I have been fortunate to grow up different. I always did the things that were not the norm for that time. So when I started the business selling specialty equipment in 1992, I could take the criticism in stride. I was not intimidated by the comments that I will not be successful in the equipment business as a woman. The norm of that period was software business. Also I have a Masters degree in Botany and was working as a Scientist for Indian Council for Agricultural Research (a prestigious job) before moving to the USA after my marriage. I never had formal business training. But due to the support of our employees, customers, vendors, friends, industry peers, mentors, and organizations like SBDC, we have grown to what we are today. I am very grateful for all of them and all the others who have helped us directly or indirectly.

    Here are the things I attribute to my success:

    1. Do not follow all the advice you receive: though I am listing some points below that helped me to succeed, find your own sweet spot. You cannot listen to all the advice and try to follow everything. Follow your heart and passion. Do the right, ethical, legal things. Always discern the advice that fits your specific business.
    2. Family support: My husband gave financial, technical, and moral support to start and grow the business.
    3. Innovation: We believe in innovation and that is the reason our parent company is called Inno Concepts. We innovate new machines and accessories constantly and we have patents for our machines.
    4. Pivot when needed: When the recession hit in 2008, we were able to pivot into making machines for the chocolate industry. Before that we were selling equipment made by other companies that were modified for our requirement based on our customer’s needs.
    5. Be an extrovert: Since we created this niche market, I felt comfortable working with the majority. I did not feel threatened or intimidated. I had hurdles in communication and body language but I learned to be comfortable with myself.
    6. Grow slowly but steadily: Always start small and grow. Do not put the cart before the horse.
    7. ROI: Look for ROI on your investment whether it is time, money, or energy.
    8. Positive attitude: I always see glass as half full than the other way around. Our thoughts are fulfilled by the universe. So it is better to think positive. Don’t worry unnecessarily. We have a saying in our language: "One who plants, waters it." It means we have been created for a purpose and the Almighty will take care of you. There may be hurdles but they too will pass with time.
    9. Be grateful: I thank all those who are helping me and even those who criticize me. We need positive feedback but also sometimes criticism to prove our worth.
    10. Willingness to learn: I am still a student in life. I learn a lot from our customers, and anybody and everybody I interact with. As business owners, we have to be ready to learn whatever it takes to be successful.

    Addendum: Enjoy what you do and money follows you. Start the business to fulfill a need for your customers. Do not start the business just to make money. Improve your communication skills. Do the right thing. Do not hesitate to interact with people who do not look like you. Hard work and learning the new skills, customer service, accounting, and technical details of the product or service all help us to be successful.

  • October 14, 2020 2:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Selassie AtodikaCan you tell us about Midunu Chocolates and how you started your business? What you are most proud of?

    Midunu Chocolates are artisanal handcrafted chocolates. Made with Ghanaian cocoa, they feature the flavors and essences of Africa. After over a decade of travel through the various corners of Africa, I distilled the essences of the African continent and now offer them to you in Ghanaian chocolate. They offer people the opportunity join me on that journey, to taste the subtle infusion of the bounty of the African continent – fruits, spices, coffee, teas, and tisanes. These complex flavor profiles embody the beautiful patchwork of Africa’s culinary heritage, a chef-scripted love story to our continent in every bite.

    I started the chocolates as one of the elements of my company. Given the availability of cocoa in Ghana, I felt it was important to add value to local ingredients. I’m proud to be able be share insights into African cultures and cuisines through the medium of chocolate. We have named the truffles after different African women who have inspired the truffles and are culinary custodians throughout the continent.

    Midunu Chocolates logoPlease share with us some of the unique challenges that an African chocolatier faces, based in Ghana.

    Despite the fact that we are one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa, the systems and structure currently available in Ghana are not set up for local production. In fact, the laws make it illegal for me to buy cocoa beans directly from farmers. The colonial structure, with its inherent structural injustices, still means that the legal, economic, and infrastructural framework is set up for exporting raw ingredients. Conversations are underway, but you can imagine the vested interests, financial implications, and internal and international politics that go along with that.

    Other production challenges include difficulties in accessing some of the other ingredients needed to produce chocolates and confectionaries: sugar, dairy, vanilla, and lecithin. All these must be imported, so they increase the production costs.

    In terms of market challenges, as we grow and look for additional markets for our products, shipping, cold chain management, and managing related costs have become areas we are trying to better understand.

    As a relatively new member of FCIA, what have been the services you have found most valuable, and what do you wish could be improved or added?

    Since I’m not always in the United States, I haven’t always been able to attend events, so the webinars this season have been very valuable to me. In terms of services to improve, I would love to see a deeper partnership with fulfillment partners that can help in the delivery of our chocolates to customers, a longer mentorship program with access to capital, and more engagement between chocolate makers and chocolatiers in cocoa producing countries and chocolate consuming countries.

  • October 14, 2020 2:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kofi BoakyePlease share with us your role in KANY Corp and the services your business provides within the cocoa value chain.

    KANY Corporation is a family-owned cocoa supplying company. We have been working with large, mid-tier, and artisanal companies in the global chocolate and confectionery industry for over 30 years.

    Our main origin of supply is Ghana for several reasons. Firstly, we are a wholly Ghanaian-owned company. But more importantly, Ghana has the best quality cocoa beans in the world. So we take pride in knowing that we supply our customers with the best quality ingredients for their end products. In addition to supplying conventional cocoa beans and products, we have partnered with the largest organic cooperative in Ghana to supply both organic beans and products. We see the organic space as a growing niche within the industry, as consumer preferences shift toward more health-conscious alternatives.

    Lastly, we have incorporated a robust social impact program that includes being a sponsor of the West African Health Foundation, an organization founded by Ghanaian physician with a mission to eradicate infectious diseases in the region.

    You have mentioned that fine chocolate companies often overlook West African cocoa, not realizing the good quality and consistency of Ghana cocoa. Can you elaborate on this?

    Yes, we have noticed that many of the artisanal, or bean-to-bar, companies tend to gravitate toward the South American origins as their sourcing choice. While we agree that these regions have exceptional quality and differentiating flavor profiles, we are often surprised that folks tend to stray away from the West African origins, given that we have such a dominating presence in the industry. KANY has made it a focal point to instill that Ghana should not be seen just as a bulk or industrial producer of cocoa, but that the country can and should compete with its South American peers, given we boast extraordinary quality cocoa. Indeed, logistics may be more difficult than sourcing from other origins because a company must purchase through an intermediary vs. directly from farmers (which is a good thing in my opinion), but that should be a complete dealbreaker in terms of choosing Ghana as an origin.

    What advice would you give to FCIA in terms of geographic focus of supply chain programs, membership recruitment, and services?

    I would say not to limit the focus to Latin America as the primary source of premium cocoa, as it is difficult to overlook upwards of 70% of cocoa production in Africa. There are plenty of origins that boast unique and robust flavor profiles that would work well for FCIA members. Separately, FCIA should certainly make an effort to welcome minority-owned small business and new entrants working in the fine chocolate arena into its organization.

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Executive Director / Membership Inquiries: Bill Guyton / 1.206.577.9983 / Email Bill

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