In this new Ecuadorian Cacao and Chocolate article, new topics will be covered. Reading it would allow you discovering how cacao is involved in our History and how nowadays it production helps countries developing their economy.
Moreover, I will talk about two places found in Quito which should be visited to have a complete overview of the Ecuadorian Chocolate specificity.
History – Main events:
- In Ecuador
The “Nacional” cacao is the emblematic Ecuadorian Cacao. It has been identified for the first in the Guayas’s region in the 17th century. By that time, activities such as production and sales were forbidden. However, in 1790 the King Carlos IV finally allowed them.
At the beginning of the 19th century, an independence fight was lead. For 22 years, cacao incomes helped financing this event. Later, between 1880 and 1890, cacao exportations allowed the country’s economy to be well dynamic. As a positive consequence of this good economic health, the first banks were opened.
Unfortunately after a few years, events such as the First World War and diseased crops caused a production and sales decrease by 30%. After this rough time, Ecuadorian sales successfully recovered. Nowadays, the country is ranked among the Cacao Exporting Countries Top 10 and it production is steadily increasing.
- Around continents
Before having chocolate as we know it today, with diverse textures and flavors, lots of experiment were made. The Cacao History starts in Central America thanks to the Maya civilization. They were the first ones to use cacao seeds, making hot bitter drinks. Later, Aztecs from Mexico also prepared drinks but decided to add local spices in. Many decades after, European people tried drinking this exotic beverage brought back by Spanish Conquistadores. They decided to add raw cane sugar in. Cacao trees only appeared in Africa later, as a consequence of the European countries colonization.
Exportations – Figures:
Ecuador is one of the actual world cacao exporting countries with Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroun, Brazil… It cacao exportation represents 3% of the world cacao production and 75% of this sold cacao is defined as fine and high quality cacao.
Around 300 000 hectares of the Ecuadorian land are dedicated to the 130 000 metric tons cacao production.
In Ecuador, revenues generated by cacao sales represent 6.7% of the GDP and 12% of jobs are related to cacao production and exportations.
The government hopes to see this year an increase of revenues by $200 million. As a result, Ecuador would be the first cacao exporting country around the world.
Ecuadorian Chocolate Brands:
The worldwide known Ecuadorian brands are República Del Cacao, Caoní, Pacari and Chchkukulu. The government hopes improving final products sales (e.g. chocolate bars) through these brands recognition. As a proof of it high quality, the Ecuadorian cacao was awarded the Best Cacao Prize at the 2013 Paris Fair Chocolate.
- Learning and Tasting at Academia del Chocolate Ecuador
This institution was set up a few years ago by Lourdes PAEZ and Cyril PRUD’HOMME. Among it main goals we can mention:
- Promoting the Ecuadorian Cacao and Chocolate at national and international levels
- Training chocolate lovers and experts
- Making possible meetings between chocolate makers and fans
- Tasting activities
- Discussions in schools, high schools and universities
Moreover, they made a partnership with the University San Francisco of Quito. They received a certification for all different growing and transformation steps from cacao to chocolate.
- Tasting and Buying at República Del Cacao
In Quito, at the Plaza Foch is located one of the República Del Cacao’s shop. There, you would try and buy chocolate bars depending on your preferences: 65%, 75% or 85% Dark Chocolate, Dark Milk, Rose Petals, Golden Berry, Banana Chips… All bars are made with 100% pure Arriba Cacao Bean following and using traditional working methods, free of any pesticides or chemicals. República Del Cacao is also involved in a program allowing communities taking care and protecting Arriba Cacao legacy (agricultural education, technical support to improve farms).
As we saw it above, in Ecuador there is a bar of chocolate for everybody no matter your taste. Future looks promising for Ecuadorian export of cacao in a sustainable, ecological and responsible way.