Making progress towards a harmonised international cocoa quality standard

The market for high-quality cocoa in Europe is dynamic and holds great promise for cocoa producers and exporters. Growing consumer demand for premium chocolate is making the European speciality market more sophisticated and complex. Market players are gradually adapting to this reality. They are closing some long-standing gaps by creating a common language to discuss quality standards.

To this day, there is no official harmonised international standard or terminology to check cocoa quality and flavour. But, this is about to change. In 2019, 20 first-draft protocols for the international assessment of cocoa quality and flavour were published. The protocols cover all aspects. They look at everything from sampling and sample preparation to physical and sensory evaluation.

Checking cocoa bean quality and flavour

The interest in a harmonised standard has become clearer over the years. The lack of a common terminology has made clear communication difficult among many actors. This includes suppliers, buyers and consumers. It has also made it difficult for suppliers to understand how buyers check and define quality and flavour. This has made it very hard for them to identify and tackle issues in the supply chain that affect cocoa quality.  

The recent protocols will help producers, traders, chocolate makers, and consumers better understand cocoa bean quality and flavour. It will also help them to assess and communicate about it. The protocols are based on current best practices. They were developed by an informal working group. Many contributed to the group. This included cocoa producers’ associations, traders, chocolate manufacturers and research organisations. The process was coordinated by Bioversity International.

International standard development

Discussions to improve and finalise the first draft protocols are still in progress. The discussions mainly take place during industry events and involve relevant stakeholders. Do you want to stay up to date on the development of international standards for assessing cocoa quality? Visit the International Standards for the Assessment of Cocoa Quality and Flavour website. To find out more about which requirements cocoa should meet for the European market, read our cocoa buyer requirements study.

This news article was written for CBI by Profound – Advisers In Development.

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