Dear FCIA Members and Partners,
As the global spread of COVID-19 continues, I hope this letter finds you and your families safe during this extraordinarily difficult time. Late last year, I was elected by the Board of Directors to replace Clark Guittard, who successfully completed his term but will continue on as a board member. I am joined by Lauren Adler, FCIA Board Vice President and Dan Domingo as Secretary/Treasurer. Our twelve-member board has set an ambitious agenda for this year, which includes stronger internal alignment and greater outreach to our partners. I am excited to be working with Bill Guyton, FCIA Executive Director, to implement this agenda.
As the newly elected President, one of my greatest hopes is that the fine chocolate community finds ways to forge deeper collaborations between all the remarkably talented and passionate people that make up our community, from farmer to blogger. Working together, we can better ensure the future success of our collective interest: bringing a higher quality cacao and chocolate experience to the world. FCIA’s 300 plus members include fine flavor cacao farmers, chocolate makers, chocolatiers, ingredient suppliers, packaging and equipment suppliers, pastry chefs, marketers, specialty retailers, wholesalers, and festival organizers. Let’s all work together while celebrating the talents that each of us bring to fine chocolate.
Since our March Elevate Chocolate event, we have all had to re-envision how to move forward in our industry as the COVID19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all our businesses and lives. FCIA’s board has proactively worked to adapt and refocus plans to serve our company members’ needs during this difficult time. Bill Guyton has been reaching out to members individually for feedback on our new plans. We have identified three priorities which include:
- FCIA’s Make Mine Fine marketplace, to help promote online chocolate sales;
- Information and advice on accessing small business loans and grants for struggling companies; and
- Online Resource Center, which will be supported and funded with our partners.
We welcome your feedback on these initiatives and are grateful for any additional suggestions.
Key to our success are the many partners of FCIA. Within the chocolate industry, we have formed alliances with several other trade associations representing varied segments of the broader confectionery industry. These include the National Confectioners’ Association (NCA), PMCA, the World Cocoa Foundation, the Cocoa Merchants Association of America, and the Specialty Food Association, to name a few.
Through our combined interests on supporting cocoa farmers and the value chain, we have developed a strong partnership with USDA and partners in Latin America and Africa. We are also in discussions with USAID and other development agencies to identify common interests.
FCIA also appreciates our alliances with festival organizers and conference planners including Fancy Food Show, Salon du Chocolat, NW Chocolate Festival, Craft Chocolate Experience and the Dallas Chocolate Show, among others. These trade shows and festivals are core to the success of our member companies in promoting and selling their products.
Lastly, we applaud our university, NGOs and research institute partners including Pennsylvania State University, UC Davis, the Fine Chocolate and Cocoa Institute (FCCI) at Harvard, Bioversity and others. These organizations conduct studies and provide invaluable insights on the fine chocolate industry.
I personally wish you all the best during these rare times, and I hope we all emerge with sharpened skills and strengthened partnerships so our world of fine chocolate can continue to be there to provide the world with some much needed flavors, solace and comfort. Despite the challenges we are all facing, I am grateful, excited, and optimistic for our industry, and welcome all to join us in 2020 and the journey ahead.
President of the Board, FCIA