National Cocoa Awards 2021 launched
Cocoa farmers and producers are invited to participate in the 2021 National Cocoa Awards.
The second edition of the Awards was launched virtually on Friday via the Cocoa Development Company’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
Gabriella Gonzales, Marketing Manager of the CDC, said the National Cocoa Awards recognises exceptional post-harvest quality in cocoa and this edition celebrates the know-how of producers in preserving the diverse flavours of the Trinitario bean and improving their quality to award-winning levels.
She said winners of the awards can have their beans selected to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Global Cocoa of Excellence programme which determines which beans are judged in the top 50 of the world. She said two of the winners in the 2019 National Cocoa Awards won last year at a global level.
Jaqueline Rawlins, Chairman of the CDC, said the awards were conceptualised as an effective tool to encourage excellence in the cocoa industry.
“The mission of the National Cocoa Awards is to empower and recognise cocoa farmers and producers, to improve quality and production according to best practices, contributing to a globally recognised Trinidad and Tobago cocoa brand,” she said.
She said two of the five samples submitted into the global competition won prestigious awards, reminding us that we have the best cocoa in the world.
“Trinidad and Tobago is the current record holder in winning international cocoa awards. Since the inception of the Cocoa Excellence Programme in 2009, Trinidad and Tobago has won eight international cocoa awards,” she said.
She said while they want to replicate the success of the past, they are also looking at the other tangible benefits of the competition.
“The Cocoa Development Company sees the competition as a stimulus for the local cocoa industry development, we recognised there are no shortcuts to true excellence and as such the company, CDC, has developed some critical aspects of the industry that could be coordinated and leveraged to provide a quantum thrust forward for making local cocoa an attractive proposition,” she said.
Rawlins said these include the structuring of 18 cluster communities of farmers in all cocoa growing areas in T&T. The 800 plus farmers in these clusters have been grounded in cocoa bean production and trained in using best practices in preparation for market opportunities.
She said they also developed 40 micro lot fermenters who produce highly differentiated, excellent quality, single origin beans which satisfies the makers of high value cocoa products and will complement the existing six central fermentry operators which allows the countries to target the niche market segments where premium prices are commanded.
Rawlins said during the COVID-19 stay at home period, CDC facilitated business opportunities for 24 micro lot operators by setting up contractual arrangements for the conversion of 16 metric tonnes of wet beans to high quality dry beans.
“This empowered the processors to hone their business skills and prove they could provide excellent quality with every batch,” she said.
Rawlins revealed that the CDC has also begun using a certification mark of Trinidad and Tobago fine and flavoured cocoa to certify all cocoa products from this country.
“The awareness and use of the certification mark locally and abroad is being pursued since it gives full credence and recognition to the brand TT concept and will attract new markets,” she said noting that they have begun the implementation of a total quality management programme to accompany the certification process.
The certification stamp will also be added to products from value-added producers, who she said used as much as 54 metric tonnes of cocoa in 2019 for products such as cocoa nibs, powder, beverages and premium chocolate products.
In her address, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said T&T’s cocoa beans have contributed significant revenue and foreign exchange with TT$9.7 million and TT$8.2 million earned in 2018 and 2019 respectively. From January to August 2020, cocoa earned TT$4.6 million.
She said the major export markets are: Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Japan and USA.
The minister noted that the statistics are even more optimistic further up the value chain with the export of chocolate and other cocoa products increasing by 99 percent from 2010 to 2019.
One manufacturer in that bracket, she said, exported to 20 countries across the globe.