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  • October 14, 2020 1:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jessica SpauldingWhat or who inspired you to become an entrepreneur? What do you consider Harlem Chocolate Factory’s biggest successes? What impact has COVID19 had on your business this year?

    I think in some way I have always been an entrepreneur. I used to sell painted pinecones and Girl Scout cookies.

    Our biggest successes have been being featured on the Today Show, and every time a customer comes back. I think there was a part of me that was afraid people would only be interested in our chocolates as a novelty, so when people love our products, that’s a success.

    COVID has been a gift and a curse, from a purely business standpoint. We were on track for monumental growth this year and that was cut short. Within one week we had to close our retail shop and all of our corporate events were cancelled. We had to move to an online model when we had never really operated in that manner. Summer has been extremely hard but having our shop closed gave us a second to truly review and reset our business. We were able to basically rebuild our business and have renewed hope in our future.

    Harlem Chocolate Factory logoYou have shared with us how fine chocolate is often associated with European makers. There is a disconnect, however, with all of the those involved in cocoa value chain. How do you think this perception can be changed or balanced?

    I know for myself, my entry to chocolate was attending the Salon du Chocolat’s New York shows every year since I was 10. My experiences at these shows were localized around European companies, and even the non-Euro companies spoke to how they emulated European traditions/flavors. We cannot negate European influence on chocolate but the Euro-centric view of the industry must be widened. It is important that people from multi-ethnic backgrounds bring their voices to the industry. The industry must respond in kind and give space for these voices and do internal reviews to ensure they tell the FULL story of chocolate.

    What advice would you give to minority owned businesses wishing to enter the fine chocolate industry?

    I would encourage them to not give up and to build a thick skin. Unfortunately, ignorance exists, and building a strong network is key to survival. I think it’s important to be present in the rooms where discussions are happening and not to feel discouraged. Your viewpoint is just as valid as anyone else’s and you owe it to yourself to let your voice be heard.

  • October 14, 2020 8:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    An interview with Carolina Aguilar, Cocoa Director, MOCCA project, Latin America, Lutheran World Relief | IMA World Health

    The Maximizing Opportunities in Coffee and Cocoa in the Americas (MOCCA) project is a five-year initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and implemented by a consortium led by TechnoServe, Lutheran World Relief leads cocoa activities in the six prioritized countries (Honduras, EL Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Ecuador). MOCCA is strengthening farmers’ capacity to use best agricultural practices, increasing access to the resources needed to implement and maintain their improvements, and integrating them into markets that reward their efforts with higher returns.

    How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your abilities to implement MOCCA programs in six Latin American countries?

    MOCCA faced delays in implementation, and this was expected, considering that we prioritized the safety and security of our staff, and the farmers and the communities that we work with. We had to adjust our plans to maintain engagement with the cocoa farmers by using information and communication technologies, especially smartphones and SMS messaging. LWR already uses a mobile application, Cacao Movil, that provides content and methodology to learn and train others.

    Despite this challenging environment, what have been the top major achievements within the first two years of the program?

    • Partnering with the private sector: Several companies are co-investing with MOCCA in the cocoa communities, especially on training and access to quality genetic materials
    • Creating a research network around cadmium and sharing scientific results to farmers
    • Linking buyers and cocoa farmers in more direct trade relations
    • Launching a cocoa diploma targeting a new generation of trainers for the six MOCCA countries
    • Supporting the development of international standards for cocoa quality assessment

    Can you explain the flavor map developed by LWR and how it is benefiting farmers and the private sector?

    The Cocoa Flavor Map was created about four years ago and included three Central American countries: Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The objective of this tool is to help cocoa producers to better connect with buyers of fine-specialty cocoa, who can easily identify the sources for the cocoa flavor, profiles and special characteristics they are looking for.

    MOCCA is helping to expand this work to include Guatemala, Peru, and Ecuador, where we are screening the current quality available at the farms and cooperatives, experimenting the application of modified post-harvest protocols for optimal flavor expression to develop the new cocoa profiles that will be included on the map.

    What is the role of FCIA and its member companies in MOCCA?

    The FCIA has a fundamental role in MOCCA as the link between the farmers and markets. Several FCIA companies are also investing with MOCCA to support farmers with trainings on renovating and rehabilitating their cocoa farms to increase yields and improve practices, but they are also incentivizing quality with higher prices.

    How has MOCCA helped in the development and implementation of cocoa quality and flavor standards?

    MOCCA is supporting the Working Group on quality standards, helping in the translation to Spanish of the protocols that have been developed so far, and making them available in the six MOCCA countries with trainings and demonstrations in partnership with Bioversity International and the FCIA members that also participate in the Working Group. MOCCA will work with the FCIA and other allies to develop local capacity in assessing cocoa quality.

  • September 29, 2020 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As a part of our Empowering Chocoprenuers Series please join us Saturday October 3, 10 am – 12 Noon Atlanta UStime for a webinar on fermentation with Scott Johnson.

    The Fermentation 101 webinar will provide an overview of cocoa fermentation, touching on the science behind it, multiple types of fermentation, important variables to control (and why), and how to easily measure  fermentation progress  in the field. At the conclusion of the session, you will have an understanding of why it’s important to ferment, how you can employ different techniques to create multiple products from your existing bean source, techniques that can be used to improve your quality, and how to speak to your customers to help them understand the value this brings.

    Scott Johnson and CocoaTown are bringing this free webinar as a part of our commitment to empowering cocoa farmers to climb the economic ladder.

    Feel free to share this information with your contacts, cocoa farmers in your area and anyone who can benefit. 

    Here is the link to register for the webinar. 


    Sign up for CocoaTown's email list, read our blogs at www.cocoatown.com and follow us on FacebookInstagram and YouTube for information about future "Empowering Chocoprenuers Webinar" Series

  • September 21, 2020 11:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Though deforestation performed to create space for cacao farming continues to have a significant negative impact on climate change, there are possible ways that cacao farming can affect the climate in a positive way. 

    "According to a new study, growing cacao beans under the canopies of various trees left intact at plantations not only boosts yields. It can also increase trees’ capacity for carbon storage and sequestration, which can help us in our fight against climate change."

    Read more: "Shade-growing cacao can help mitigate climate change," Sustainability Times.

  • September 16, 2020 6:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Join CocoaTown for a guided tour of the bean to bar chocolate making process with Chef Erika Cline on Monday Sept 21st 10 am - 12 Noon Atlanta Time.  This webinar is perfect for those who want to start a bean to bar business, who are just starting out or chocoholics who just want to know how chocolate is made from cocoa beans.

    To learn more and register for this free event visit Changing Your Life Story Through Chocolate

  • September 02, 2020 12:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA is hosting a webinar on B-Corporations this month and this article is great reading in preparation for our Sept 24th webinar. Here is the link to the article

    Sign up for the webinar here.

  • September 01, 2020 11:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA Executive Director, Bill Guyton was recently quoted about the impact climate change is having on cacao and chocolate. Read the full article here.

  • August 29, 2020 7:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kalona Brand Company, LLC (“Kalona”) is selling a vertically integrated sustainable agricultural venture on Oahu’s North Shore focusing on growing cacao, ʻulu, and avocado to create value added food products including premium Hawaiian chocolate bars for both local and off-island markets. The 222-acre farm is designed to produce measurable environmental and community benefits. Please view the attached listing with details here:

    Farm For Sale (3).pdf

  • August 25, 2020 8:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FCIA is seeking a fall intern to draft proposals, identify new funding opportunities, assist with the preparation and hosting of weekly webinars, participate and take notes during committee calls, assist in drafting and posting social media, review and edit progress reports. The intern may also assist in other tasks as needed. We have extended the application deadline to August 31st. A full description is attached below.  


  • August 13, 2020 11:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    From September 21-24, the SFA will host its new virtual event, Specialty Food Live! 2020. SFA members are invited to exhibit in this live marketplace and connect with buyers online in real time. As an exhibitor, you can:
    • Set up digital showrooms that buyers will visit to see your products; use videos, pdfs and other content to promote multiple products and brands.
    • Be matched to vetted and approved buyers looking for your specific product types.
    • Participate in virtual tastings facilitated by SFA, with products sent to buyers ahead of time. (Limited availability.)
    • Hold in-event video meetings with interested buyers.
    Learn more here and register

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