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Ecuadorian Cacao obtains residence visa in France

By Lourdes Páez, director of the Chocolate Academy, writer and Cacao Sommelier

Article published in the magazine A la Mesa con Vinissimo, July 2018

The character in this story is a variety of Cacao baptized with a very technical name, it is called CCN-51. It was created by Homero Castro, a farmer from Ambato, who in the 1960s set out to develop a high-yielding cocoa that was resistant to the diseases that threatened the plantations.

CCN-51: The Perfect Fusion between the Coast and the Amazon

CCN-51, also known as "Cacao Ramilla", has proliferated in Ecuador in recent decades. Its resistance to open field planting and its production capacity have made it a profitable crop, with yields that can reach up to 70 quintals per hectare. However, like any great story, it also has its challenges.

The CCN-51 Dilemma: Productivity vs. Flavor

The Achilles heel of CCN-51, according to its critics, is its high acidity and lack of the complex flavors and aromas that characterize National Cacao. But despite criticism, it has managed to expand beyond the borders of Ecuador, becoming an export product taking its genetics to plantations in Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Indonesia. Without intending to, it has generated a lot of controversy and division in the cocoa industry in Ecuador and the world, with loyal admirers and radical detractors.

Expert tasters such as Rosa Pérez maintain that the flavor and aroma defects are due to the handling of this variety of Cocoa in the post-harvest, since CCN-51 is treated as if it were a National Cocoa. Rosa Pérez together with Gilles Rocher from the French chocolate group KAOKA, tested various fermentation and drying methods until they found the formula that allows reducing acidity and developing flavors and aromas, enhancing its use in high-end chocolate.

The CCN-51 on its way from Ecuador to Normandy

Attracted by the results achieved by KAOKA and the engineer Rosa Pérez, the French company SALPA appeared in 2013, owner of large chocolate brands in France and Switzerland. SALPA manages the chocolate brands: Schaal Chocolatier, Marquise de Sévigné, Cóte de France, Arts du Sucre, Pfister Chocolatier (Switzerland), in addition to the Musée du Chocolat, and Thúries Excellence, a chain of boutiques run by master Yves Thúries, award-winning twice as the Best Worker in France and considered the Paul Bocuse of the chocolate industry.

SALPA sought to guarantee the traceability of cocoa, which is why in 2013 it acquired three cocoa plantations on the Ecuadorian coast, all with CCN-51 crops, which they have patented for Europe under the name ECUAWA Cacao.

The cocoa that SALPA harvests in its plantations is in the care of KAOKA in its fermentation and drying center in Guayaquil. From there the cocoa beans are exported to their processing plant in Normandy, where they are ground and transformed into cocoa paste. From there it is distributed to the chocolate companies of the SALPA Group, covering 100% of their demand for cocoa, that is, all their products, whether chocolates, bars, nougats, or dragees, are made with ECUAWA cocoa.

Quality Cocoa and Environmental Responsibility

The directors of SALPA France applaud the homogeneous quality of this cocoa, essential for large-scale chocolate production. In addition, they highlight their Ecuadorian origin, where there is no child labor or slavery on the plantations. All cocoa has the UTZ seal, which certifies responsible agriculture with the environment and local communities.

Conquering the French Palate

This is how CCN-51, an often misunderstood Ecuadorian cocoa, manages to conquer the French palate, one of the most demanding in the world. This story shows us that, with dedication and passion, even the most unique cocoas can find their place in the world of chocolate.

Links to SALPA websites:

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