Categories
General News

Cuna de Piedra Chocolate Uses Local Ingredients To Elevate Public Perception of Mexico

Cuna de Piedra, a chocolate maker based in Mexico, is using local ingredients to elevate the public perception of Mexican cuisine. The company was started by two young professionals, Enrique Perez and Vicky Gonzalez, who share a commitment to raising the profile of heirloom ingredients indigenous to Mexico, as well as the role of cacao in the history of their culture.

From Big Dreams to Dream Team

Vicky and Enrique dared to dream big and ask “What if we create a brand with a humane sense that seeks to create a change in society and reposition the perception of Mexico?” They represent the next generation of fine chocolate entrepreneurs forming partnerships to strengthen the value chain and preserving heirloom foods with a modern approach. Fortunately, Enrique had been working with Chocosoulutions founder and master chocolatier Jorge Llanderal who also realized a “chocolate dream” of his own. Together with Executive Chef Mariana Garza, whose resume includes working in the kitchen of celebrity chef Richard Sandoval (commonly referred to as the Father of Modern Mexican Cuisine)  at La Hacienda, they had assembled their dream team.

Preserving Mexico’s Culinary Heritage

Their limited-edition Smoked Heirloom Chili Bar exemplifies a sense of place through its ingredients. According to the description for this bar on Caputo’s website: “The native Mexican chiles, as these are progressively being displaced by other higher-yield and genetically engineered varieties.”

When this happens we limit our options to just a few varieties that can be found anywhere, losing the unique flavors and culinary traditions that define a particular place. During a time of pandemic-led isolation and travel restrictions, the longing to visit different places and experience  unique local flavors is at an all time high. A sense of place  is one of the key trends fine chocolate wholesaler/retailer  Matt Caputo discussed in FCIA webinar on  October 11,  2021 which The Chocolate Professor also wrote about in a recent blog.

In an exclusive video on Instagram, Cuna de Piedra’s Enrique Perez speaks to Gabino Aquino, who farms and harvests the chilis used in the chocolate. He shares the importance of preserving the unique flavors and culture of Mexican gastronomy. Click here to view the video.

Preserving culinary traditions, however, takes work and dedication by small farmers and commitment from culinary professionals and organizations like Slow Food to raise  public awareness of heirloom ingredients.

The next video clip by Lalo Plascencia, Mexican chef and consultant, founder of CIG Mexico actually shows the labor-intesive process of deseeding and smoking the chilis, which Gabino described to Enrique. Click here to watch the video. (NOTE: Video’s music track could be loud, turn the volume down or mute, as needed.)

During the recent FCIA webinar hosted by Dr. Lee Theisen, a.k.a. @chocolate_guru, Cuna de Piedra chef, Mariana Garza explained adjustments to recipes are required working with ingredients such as this smoked heirloom chili.

Ironically, the chocolate most Mexicans find in their local markets or malls is not from their own country. It’s imported from the United States or Europe.

So, Cuna de Piedra needs to educate and expose the local palates to what authentic Mexican chocolate tastes like through tastings.

The U.S. market however, poses a different challenge for this Mexican craft chocolate company. Like most bean to bar chocolate makers, Cuna de Piedra lists the origin of the beans used in their chocolate bar on the wrapper.  Unfortunately, most Americans are not aware that Tabasco is the place where the beans are harvested.

 

Click here to learn more about Tabasco from History.com. It’s definitely a place you will want to visit!

The mental association Americans have to Tabasco is the hot  sauce and it’s so strong that attendees at the Northwest Chocolate Festival  simply couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that the chocolate itself was not spicy.

Enjoy Cuna de Piedra & Share Your Thoughts

Are you curious how smoked chili chocolate tastes or would like to try chocolate from Tabasco, Mexico? Order a few bars from Caputo’s and be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comment section here, or on social media. They offer full size and mini bars, which are perfect for someone who can’t decide which ones to try first.

About: The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) is the only organization focused 100% on supporting fine chocolate professionals. We promote the artistry and craftsmanship of the chocolate professional focused on producing superior products made from premium chocolate and natural ingredients. We believe in using best practices in cacao processing and chocolate production; and transparent labeling and marketing practices.

Our marketplace website, MakeMineFine.com, is your one-stop-shop for fine chocolate, chocolate events and experiences, chocolate making equipment, books, and everything chocolate.

Categories
General News

Guittard Chocolate, Bringing Their Best Approach to Fine Chocolate

Since winter is the perfect season for chocolate beverages, we are focusing on two chefs who have a special talent for all things chocolate. Chef Donald Wressel and Chef Josh Johnson of Guittard Chocolate have shared some chocolate beverage recipes that provide a unique spin on something traditional to showcase their expertise. Check out their distinctive takes on hot cocoa on our Instagram feed, @makeminefine

Chef Donald Wressel found passion for cooking at a very young age, and grew his life around it. He began his journey at Washington State in the Chef Culinary Program, and worked in multiple locations on both the east and west coast before settling down with Four Seasons Restaurants for almost twenty years. In 1986, he began working for the Four Seasons in Philadelphia, quickly making his way up to executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills location. He remembers these times as his noteworthy learning years. 

Chef Wressel’s commitment to excellence led him to participating in worldwide pastry competitions resulting in multiple awards and medals for his talent. Donald joined Guittard Chocolate in 2006 as their corporate pastry chef, and to this day continues to create new and stunning recipes that are incomparable. He continues to master his craft while teaching others as well with his “Guest Chef Series” classes at the Guittard Chocolate Studio in Los Angeles. 

Another chef we’d like to highlight is Chef Josh Johnson. Chef Johnson’s love for chocolate began as a teenager working at his uncle’s pastry shop. He moved on to working at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago, where he gained more experience alongside world-renowned pastry chefs. Josh ventured into many different pastry positions before opening Cocoa Bean Fine Desserts, his own shop in Geneva, Illinois. He soon became a teacher as a pastry chef instructor at The French Pastry School of Chicago. He was thrilled to be given the opportunity to teach others his craft, the way he was taught by so many chefs throughout his life as well. He now works as a pastry chef for the Guittard Chocolate Company, where he combines all of his knowledge and skill to bring new ideas and creations to the table.

Guittard Chocolate chef, creating a masterpiece.

We invite you to learn more about chefs and chocolatiers like these on our website, finechocolateindustry.org.  The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) is the only organization focused 100% on supporting fine chocolate professionals. We promote the artistry and craftsmanship of the chocolate professional, focused on producing superior products made from premium chocolate and natural ingredients. We believe in using best practices in cacao processing and chocolate production; as well as transparent labeling and marketing practices.

Categories
Chocolate Break Giveaway

Next Generation of Businesses and Cocoa Farmers — September #ChocolateBreak and Giveaway


As you may recall, I posted a May 1, 2021 blog post, explaining how the majority of fine chocolate companies are small business ventures. The same can be said regarding family-run chocolate businesses. As you read through the Make Mine Fine company listings, notice that many are operated by spouses, domestic partners, siblings or multi-generational family members.

Running family-owned businesses can be rewarding, but also faces many obstacles. Patricia O’Connell from This Capitalism explains that less than a third of family businesses survive the second generation. Only half of those businesses make it the third generation. The reasons for this is that vision and drive do not always translate from one generation to the next

What are the factors needed to ensure successful transitions of businesses from one generation to the next? A Motricity.com article outlines five factors needed for succeed:

  1. Unified Vision, Innovation, and Growth – every family member has a purpose and vision to make the business successful.
  2. Trust – this helps when facing financial, management or supervision challenges or decisions.
  3. Unity – putting the interests of the company ahead of self-interests, and having the family bonds that help in decision making.
  4. Ethical Standards and Values – family ethics and codes are usually strictly based on the foundation of the family and common backgrounds and upbringing.
  5. Not All About Money – Most family businesses work towards providing an economic opportunity to the community particularly in terms of employment.

Perhaps the only additional factor is constant, open and honest communication among family members. Can you think of any other traits that are needed? If so, please use the comment section below to share your thoughts.


This month, FCIA has chosen the theme of “Next Generation of Businesses and Cocoa Farmers”. We are pleased to be featuring three FCIA company members for our Chocolate Break/Giveaway on Thursday, September 30th at noon Eastern. This Instagram Live event is a great opportunity for you to meet FCIA representatives from Beyond Good, andSons Chocolatiers, and Conexión Chocolate to learn about their businesses and how they support next generation businesses and farmer groups. We’ll also announce the winners of our monthly chocolate giveaway during the Chocolate Break. You will not want to miss this!

In the meantime, we will be posting about these companies throughout the month — follow Make Mine Fine on Instagram and Facebook, and FCIA on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more.

Enter the Chocolate Break Giveaway

To enter the giveaway:

  1. Like our #ChocolateBreak post on Instagram
  2. Follow @makeminefine, @eatbeyondgood, @and.sons, and @conexionchocolate
  3. Tag 3 friends in the comments of our Instagram post who will also win a special chocolate delivery

Note that the prizes will be shipped only to US mailing addresses.

This giveaway is not associated with, sponsored by, or otherwise connected with Instagram.

Sign Up for Updates on Chocolate Break

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This Month’s Featured Companies


andSons Chocolatiers

and-sons.com

andSons is an expression of fine chocolate that spans two generations. The business was originally started by Mom, who in 1983, opened the second United States retail location of Teuscher chocolates of Switzerland in Beverly Hills, CA. An entrepreneur at heart with a European upbringing, Mom had a passion to create her own business that shared her enthusiasm for fine chocolate. With the help of Teuscher’s famous Dom Perignon Champagne Truffle, the little business was a success and introducing our community to truffles, pralines and ganaches became her career. At the time, in the mid-80s’, Europe was the sole provenance of fine chocolate so it was a real treat to discover and share chocolate in the US that was made with old-world techniques and pure ingredients.

After growing up in the chocolate shop and helping out over the years, her sons, Phil and Marc took over the business in 2013. By this time, the reach and availability of fine chocolate had changed significantly, and Europe was no longer its only capital. Fine chocolate had found a way into chocolate makers and chocolatiers around the world. This world view, combined with a lack of evolution from our Swiss partners, led us to part ways with Teuscher chocolates of Switzerland with the goal to make our own confections.

The result is andSons Chocolatiers. Formed in 2019, the idea is to provide a product and an experience that offered one foot in the past (leaning on our European heritage) and one foot firmly placed in the future (influenced by our CA roots and modern palates). To achieve our goal, we touched on all the bases. For the product, we brought on Chef Kriss Harvey, an expert chocolatier who had learned his skills in France but evolved them here in the US and was creating modern-style confections as Exec Pastry Chef at The Bazaar by Jose Andres. For the packaging design, we enlisted the help of talented artists and designers to reimagine the fine chocolate experience and create works of art in the packaging and presentation as well. Our retail store got a real Beverly Hills facelift! Going back to the studs, we created an environment and experience for the brand that was modern but still felt comfortable and lived in.

We’re currently two and a half years down the road as andSons, one year as a “new business” and one and a half years as a Covid-tested business. It’s been a bumpy ride but we’re continually inspired to reimagine fine chocolate for the next generation by experimenting with flavors, recipes and presentations that make fine chocolate feel nothing like “your Mom’s chocolate shop” (although for us, we’d take that as a compliment too).

Beyond Good

beyondgood.com

Beyond Good, a pioneer in heirloom dark chocolate, is the only brand in the U.S. market producing bean-to-bar chocolate at source in Africa. From an organic certified chocolate factory in Madagascar, Beyond Good produces the finest heirloom chocolate and employs 42 full-time employees, while providing a stable pay price for cocoa farmers. By making finished product in Africa, Beyond Good is redefining high-quality chocolate and sustainability in the chocolate industry. It’s not just good, it’s Beyond Good. For more information, visit www.beyondgood.com and follow @eatbeyondgood on Instagram.

Recently, Beyond Good joined a new public-private partnership with USAID in Madagascar called TSIRO which will benefit over 2,000 farmers while protecting biodiversity. The TSIRO program aims to provide training for multi-generational farming families who grow cocoa and spices.

Conexión Chocolate

conexionchocolate.com

Conexión produces chocolate exclusively with “fine or flavour” Arriba Naciónal cacao beans from Ecuador. Fine or flavour cocoa accounts for only 5% of the world’s production of chocolate, but it is all we use. Arriba is prized worldwide for its complexity, intensity, and balance. There has been a concerted effort in the chocolate industry in recent years to cut corners and increase yields in cacao production using GMO cacao. Conexion is steadfast in their opposition to this movement! They will only use heirloom Arriba cacao and they work directly with Ecuador’s farmers to help restore and preserve this national (indeed terrestrial!) treasure.

Conexion chocolate begins and ends with Ecuador. They work with individual farmers in specific regions in selecting the best cacao beans in order to capture the purity, aroma, and taste of each area.

Categories
Chocolate Break Giveaway

Dark Chocolate — August #ChocolateBreak and Giveaway


It’s easy to love dark chocolate. First, consider the flavor. Chocolate connoisseurs can taste unique floral, fruity, spicy, and caramel notes in dark chocolate from single origins or in blends. Second, dark chocolate is healthier for us than other types of chocolate since it contains higher amounts of cacao and lower amounts of sugar and dairy. Clinical trials have also proven that dark chocolate is high in flavanols and can help lower blood pressure.

So, how do we define dark chocolate and how is it different from milk chocolate? According to Harvard School of Public Health, “dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk in some form, and sugar.” The amount of sugar, cocoa, and cocoa butter can vary dramatically from brand to brand, but it is the lack of milk that really distinguishes dark chocolate from milk chocolate. Dark chocolates also often include vanilla and an emulsifier, to keep the chocolate as smooth as possible.

If you would like to sample different dark chocolate brands, visit the Make Mine Fine online market, which lists over 80 different fine chocolate companies who sell directly to consumers. You may also wish to view the International Chocolate Awards 2021 listings of companies and organizations that make superior chocolate products.

The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) has chosen the month of August 2021 to celebrate dark chocolate. We are pleased to feature FCIA company members Mindo Chocolate and Ór Dubh Chocolates, who will be sharing information on their dark chocolate products and recipes all month.


Mark your calendar for Thursday, August 26 at noon Eastern, when we will host our monthly Chocolate Break/Giveaway on Instagram Live. This is a great opportunity for you to meet representatives from Mindo and Ór Dubh, and learn about their businesses and approach to chocolate. We’ll also announce the winners of our monthly chocolate giveaway during Chocolate Break. You will not want to miss this!

In the meantime, we will be posting about these companies throughout the month — follow Make Mine Fine on Instagram and Facebook, and FCIA on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more.

What is your favorite dark chocolate and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this post.

Enter the Chocolate Break Giveaway

To enter the giveaway:

  1. Like our #ChocolateBreak post on Instagram
  2. Follow @makeminefine @or_dubh @mindo_chocolate
  3. Tag 3 friends in the comments of our Instagram post who will also win a special chocolate delivery

Note that the prizes will be shipped only to US mailing addresses.

This giveaway is not associated with, sponsored by, or otherwise connected with Instagram.

Sign Up for Updates on Chocolate Break

Join our mailing list to get email reminders about Chocolate Break and updates on giveaways, events, and other news.

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This Month’s Featured Companies

Ór Dubh Chocolates

ordubhchocolate.com/buy-chocolate.html

Inspired by the craft of chocolate making, Gilroy, California residents Trish and Michael O’Dwyer founded Ór Dubh Chocolates in 2015. Trish and Michael handcraft visually beautiful and uniquely flavored soft-center bonbons and
​bean-to-bar chocolate.

In 2007, the O’Dwyers left their home in Ireland for a fresh start in the United States. In search of a new career after raising two kids and working with small start-ups, Trish enrolled in culinary school to perfect her pastry-making skills. After taking the chocolate module of a pastry class, Trish discovered that she is happiest when she’s covered with chocolate. ​

Ór Dubh (pronounced Or Duv) and the symbol next to it harken back to Trish and Michael’s Irish roots – the symbol is from an ancient Celtic alphabet called Ogham. The symbol and Ór Dubh mean black gold.

Trish loves both the science and the art of chocolate-making. To create chocolate, everything must be in perfect balance, or be in ‘temper’ (the right temperature). Done properly, it’s magical.

Or Dubh bonbons

Mindo Chocolate

mindochocolate.com

Mindo’s chocolate making adventure began with a trip to visit Ecuador. There, Mindo Chocolate founders, Barbara and José, fell in love with the tiny town of Mindo. Mindo is located about two hours from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Surrounded by protected Cloud Forest, it is a lush and biodiverse area where more bird species than just about anywhere on earth. In 2008, they bought a plot of land in Mindo with a plan to build a winter home.

Even though they had stepped out of the day-day operations of their Michigan-based business. They still wanted to stay in contact with it via the internet. But there was a problem: it was not cheap to get Internet access in the middle of the Cloud Forest, in the middle of the mountains, in the middle of Ecuador. Go figure.

So the two entrepreneurs opened an internet cafe to offset the cost of internet access. They began roasting and serving locally grown coffee in the café and Barbara made brownies that were really good. Really, really good. So good that tourists who tried them would beg to have them shipped to places as far as Belgium. Now there was another problem: Barbara could not find quality chocolate In Ecuador. So on trips back and forth from Michigan, she would pack a few pounds of chocolate into her suitcase. Ridiculous. right? Barbara thought so, too, and decided to do something about it. She started learning all about chocolate and learning why she couldn’t find the best chocolate in a country that is known for having the best cocoa in the world. In fact, Ecuador is where cocoa and chocolate originated.

Making chocolate started with a 53 lb bag of cocoa beans (what seemed like a massive amount at the time) and a tabletop juicer. It resulted in a rustic-style chocolate, a primitive first batch that led to many, many more. Things sort of snowballed from there – the homemade chocolate took on a life of its own. Barbara and José devoted more and more time to cacao processing. They searched for native, fine-flavor Nacional variety of cacao grown in an environmentally friendly way. On their property, they set up facilities that allowed them to ferment, dry. roast, and winnow cacao.

Mindo has always been welcoming and open with information to anybody who wants to make chocolate on their own. Education about chocolate remains at the core of Mindo Chocolate Makers — from daily tours at their Ecuador facility, Chocolate Making Experiences in the Dexter location, to week-long intensive chocolate making courses.

Mindo Chocolate Rustic Series bars
Categories
Chocolate Break Giveaway

Celebrating Chocolate Desserts and Ice Cream — July #ChocolateBreak and Giveaway


Whether you like s’mores, chocolate chip cookies, sundaes, milkshakes, or brownies, chocolate is a favorite flavor among consumers of all ages and backgrounds. According to TasteAtlas.com, chocolate is a key ingredient in at least seven of the top ten most popular desserts in North America. The same applies to ice cream. Frozen Dessert Supplies ranks chocolate as the second favorite ice cream flavor, after vanilla.

The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) has chosen to feature chocolate desserts and ice creams in July 2021. Our member companies KahKow, Frans Chocolates, and Seattle Chocolate Company will share with you some amazing new chocolate desserts that are popular this year. Make Mine Fine lists many other companies that offer great desserts, as well as demonstrations and recipes.


On Thursday, July 29 at noon Eastern, we will host our monthly Chocolate Break/Giveaway on Instagram Live. This is a great opportunity for you to meet our three featured companies and learn about what are the hottest trends in desserts this summer. We’ll also announce the winners of the chocolate giveaway during Chocolate Break. You will not want to miss this!

In the meantime, we will be posting about these companies throughout the month — follow Make Mine Fine on Instagram and Facebook, and FCIA on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more.

What is your favorite dessert or ice cream flavor? Do you agree with the surveys mentioned in this blog? Please share your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this post.

Enter the Chocolate Break Giveaway

To enter the giveaway:

  1. Like our #ChocolateBreak post on Instagram
  2. Follow @makeminefine @kahkow_usa @franschocolates @seattlechoc
  3. Tag 3 friends in the comments of our Instagram post who will also win a special chocolate delivery

Note that the prizes will be shipped only to US mailing addresses.

This giveaway is not associated with, sponsored by, or otherwise connected with Instagram.


Sign Up for Updates on Chocolate Break

Join our mailing list to get email reminders about Chocolate Break and updates on giveaways, events, and other news.

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Name*

This Month’s Featured Companies

Kahkow

kahkow.com

Since 1905, Rizek Cacao has been known for its passion in cacao production. Their farms, located in the heart of the Dominican Republic, are distinguished by the excellence of their genetic material and their extraordinary post-harvest treatment. Rizek Cacao is ideologically and pragmatically committed to the protection of the forests of the Dominican Republic and environmental balance as a whole. Kahkow introduced distinctive recipes in the gourmet chocolate industry by being the first in the world to produce certified organic chocolate at the place of origin. They offer products online as well as at their New York shop.

Store display at Cafe KahKow USA

Fran’s Chocolates

frans.com

Fran Bigelow is a person who loves to celebrate. She celebrates life and the pursuit of joy in any given situation, regardless of a specific occasion. From the way the chocolates are presented in the gorgeous gift boxes to savoring the first bite of one of her creations, each element is truly infused with love, care, and consideration. And it’s why Fran’s has become a key component to so many thoughtful exchanges, joyful declarations, special occasions and countless other celebrations.

A visit to Paris inspired this European-like passion for pure flavors and simple, yet exquisite ingredients. In 1982, she opened her first patisserie and chocolate shop to share that philosophy of joie-de-vivre. Many confections later, she has been credited for sparking the artisan chocolate renaissance in the United States and is considered one of the best chocolatiers in the nation. Her pursuit of maintaining the purity of chocolate and pairing it with only the finest ingredients has been an inspiration to both chocolate artisans and aficionados alike.

From the tantalizing light ganache found in her luscious truffles, to the bold and slightly addictive gray and smoked salt caramels, take a moment to note the textures and harmonious flavors that layer themselves, one on top of the other. It is the magic of this experience that compels Fran’s to continue to seek the extraordinary.

Iced drinking chocolate from Fran's, topped with whipped cream and shavings

Seattle Chocolate Company

seattlechocolate.com

Seattle Chocolate Company began in 1991, creating their signature meltaway truffles and truffle bars in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. When the original factory was destroyed by the Nisqually Earthquake in 2001, entrepreneur and mother Jean Thompson was an investor in the company. Never one to turn down a challenge, Jean stepped up as Owner and CEO of Seattle Chocolate in 2002, learning quickly along the way and creating a fresh new look for the chocolate category. She brought color, whimsy, and a keen eye for marketing to the Seattle Chocolate brand, making them who they are today!

In 2012, Jean created jcoco chocolate, a bold new chocolate brand under the Seattle Chocolate umbrella, with a focus on feeding hungry families at its core. Since then, with each jcoco purchase, they donate fresh servings of food to those in need through partnerships with food banks in Washington, California, and New York. With your help, they’ve donated almost 4 million servings to date, and are well on their way to their big goal of 10 million!

Categories
Press Release Sustainability

Innovative new alliance in Madagascar commits to conserving biodiversity and improving the livelihoods of over 2,000 small-holder cocoa and spice farmers

For Release May 7, 2021 9:45a EDT

WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and partners are pleased to announce a new $5.8 million public-private partnership focused on conserving biodiversity and improving the well-being and prosperity of local communities in Madagascar through sustainable fine cocoa and spice production. 

Launched on World Chocolate Day, the TSIRO (Thriving & Sustainable Investments for land Restoration & economic Opportunity) Alliance is committed to supporting more than 2,000 Malagasy farmers in 30 communities, planting over 1.5 million trees to support agroforestry systems and enhancing biodiversity over the next five years. TSIRO means “flavor” in Malagasy.

With already high rates of deforestation, poverty, and malnutrition, the Southern African island nation of Madagascar has an urgent need for scalable, innovative solutions. The TSIRO Alliance will address both human-induced and natural causes that threaten Madagascar’s fragile ecosystems by diversifying income streams, using climate smart agriculture techniques, and reasserting the value of healthy trees and ecosystems. The Alliance will provide business development and educational training to farmers to improve education outcomes in participating communities, and will also introduce Village Savings and Loans programs to improve financial management. The agroforestry systems that will be used in this project will incorporate cocoa and other spices, such as vanilla, cinnamon, or wild pepper. These systems have been shown to improve environmental health by reducing soil erosion, improving air quality, and providing a stable, diversified income for small-scale farmers.

The TSIRO Alliance is part of USAID’s “HEARTH” Global Development Alliance program, a growing suite of cross-sectoral public-private partnerships for people and the planet. TSIRO is a collaboration between USAID and private-sector partners including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA), Madecasse-Beyond Good Chocolate (M-BG), Guittard Chocolate, Akesson Organics, and the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP). Each partner contributes their technical expertise, local and international networks, and strong connection to the cocoa value chain in Madagascar to the project. All partners share the same goal of producing fine cacao and chocolate that will benefit local Malagasy communities and the unique forests that surround them. While the TSIRO partners take different roles in the Alliance, they share the common goals of strengthening local farming systems and biodiversity while educating the public. 

“The TSIRO model emphasizes the conservation of biodiversity and wildlife while improving farmers’ livelihoods through the creation of business opportunities. This is a tremendous opportunity for key public and private organizations to partner together for real impact here in Madagascar,” said John Dunlop, Mission Director USAID Madagascar. “This project is located around forests in southeastern and northwestern Madagascar that are home to a number of endangered species of lemurs, as well as other animals found nowhere else on earth.” 

The TSIRO Alliance will also educate consumers about the fine-flavor chocolate market. Fine-flavor chocolate makes up only 12 percent of the global market. Many consumers are unaware of the delicate and unique flavor of chocolate originating from Madagascar and the fragile ecosystem where the trees are grown. 
To learn more about the TSIRO Alliance and the partners involved, visit makeminefine.com or sign up for the official TSIRO launch webinar on July 8, 2021.

ABOUT THE FINE CHOCOLATE INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION (FCIA)
FICA is a non-profit trade association that promotes fine chocolate making practices and innovation, founded in 2007. It is the only organization focused 100% on supporting fine chocolate professionals, representing over 300 members, including fine flavor cacao farmers, chocolate makers, chocolatiers, suppliers of ingredients, packaging and equipment, pastry chefs, marketers, specialty retailers, wholesalers, and festival organizers. 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 our website and social media accounts: 
https://www.finechocolateindustry.org
https://www.facebook.com/MakeMineFine
https://www.instagram.com/makeminefine/
https://www.facebook.com/FineChocolateIndustryAssociation
https://twitter.com/FCIA_org
https://www.linkedin.com/company/fine-chocolate-industry-association/about/
https://www.instagram.com/finechocolateindustryassoc/

Marketing Contact:
Bill Guyton, Executive Director
206-577-9983
b.guyton@finechocolateindustry.org