The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) Takes Its Next Bold Step Forward to Save the World’s Finest Cacao Trees and Chocolate.


July 2014 – The Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative (HCP) is delighted to announce that the cacao trees of Cooperative Nueva Esperanza in Puerto Quito, Ecuador provided by husband and wife team Jose Meza and Barbara Wilson of Mindo Chocolate Makers have been designated HEIRLOOM 5. The HCP’s International Tasting Panel had high praise for the beans’ processing and found the chocolate made from them rich and complex but balanced – caramel and nutty notes, followed by complex fruit and astringent notes – with a long-lasting velvety chocolate finish.

Cooperative Nueva Esperanza becomes the fifth HCP Heirloom designation in 2014 – the first year the organization started designating – and the second from Ecuador. Heirloom cacao has also been designated at two locations in Bolivia and one in Hawaii. More potential Heirloom cacaos will be evaluated this fall.

“The pioneering work of the HCP is an important tool in the global effort to promote sustainability,” says Gary Guittard, President of the Guittard Chocolate Company. “We are identifying the fine flavor cacaos around the world before they are lost to high production varieties that lack fine flavor characteristics.”

About the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative (HCP)

The best chocolate in the world starts with the finest cacao but that cacao is poised for extinction. As the industry continues to replace fine flavor cacao trees with bland hybrids and clones, a world of boring monochromatic chocolate dominates. The HCP seeks to protect, preserve, and propagate the finest, richest, most complex forms in the chocolate universe for future generations. Launched by the FCIA in 2012, the HCP offers a new way to find these diamonds of cacao by connecting their flavor traits to their genetics, rewarding their growers, and working with world’s foremost flavor experts and geneticists to save Heirloom cacao from extinction.

A completely self-funded initiative, the HCP is not another certification or awards program. It is a not-for-profit collaboration between the FCIA and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS), and the HCP’s Heirloom designations are its first steps to realizing its mission:

  • identifying the finest flavor cacaos which become the most flavorful chocolate in the world;
  • linking their flavor to genetics for natural reproduction;
  • preserving and propagating them now and for future generations;
  • recognizing and rewarding the growers who cultivate them.

Unlike other organizations which charge growers a certification or entrance fee, the HCP is self-funded by a worldwide group of small, medium, and large chocolate makers/manufacturers and staffing is largely volunteer. When growers do not have relationships with manufacturers or other well-funded industry people, the HCP arranges for bursary sponsorships to support those growers through the HCP process. All they need to do is provide the beans for the HCP to evaluate and access to their trees once the designation is made and the evaluation process is complete.

Throughout its process, the HCP follows a strict set of protocols, all of which are publicly available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. The HCP Lab at Guittard Chocolate, the oldest family-owned chocolate company in the US, blindly processes all submissions for an acclaimed international Tasting Panel of chocolate specialists. A detailed report is then provided to the applicant and the USDA/ARS performs a site visit and genetic analysis to both map the DNA of the trees and preserve them in the database for the future. Everything is provided to the growers who, with the support of the HCP, can use the designation to achieve better prices than they would growing ordinary or bulk cacao.

Taken together, the HCP is about three P’s in Pod: People, Planet, and Prosperity. It goes from gene-to-bar and unwraps the possibilities for the millions worldwide who believe that life without the very best chocolate is no life at all.

About the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA)The FCIA was founded in 2007 by an international group of chocolate professionals who came together in support of the art of fine chocolate making. Recognizing the tremendous consumer interest and growth in the fine chocolate segment of the chocolate industry, the FCIA provides a collective voice of quality and innovation that promotes fine chocolate making practices from blossom to bonbon and bar. A non-profit organization, the FCIA supports the development and innovation of the fine chocolate industry and best practices through: Identifying industry standards for cacao growing, bar and confection production, and the use of quality ingredients; Communicating with consumers, the media, and legislators regarding issues in growing, production and consumption of fine chocolate; Educating chocolate professionals on fine chocolate best practices, ingredients and techniques.


# # #

Leave a Reply