Reviving Central America’s Role in the Global Chocolate Industry
Over 5,000 years ago, the cultivation of cacao, the crucial ingredient for chocolate, originated in Central America. The temperate climate and fertile soil proved most appropriate for the cacao trees, transforming this ancient product into a billion-dollar industry today. In fact, cacao was valued so highly in Central America that cacao beans were used as a form of currency among the indigenous population. Although the origins of chocolate lie in Central America, over 70 percent of cacao production now occurs in West Africa. With such industry potential, three countries in Central America are receiving an important tool to boost marketability. Farmers in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have partnered with Lutheran World Relief (LWR), ZOTO, GUITTARD CHOCOLATE, and now Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and SNV to investigate and produce an interactive map of cacao options in the region. This chocolate map will classify and display different cacao flavors per region and per producer in each country.