Four family farms from the Tuerê settlement produced the first batch of almonds used in Casa Lasevicius' chocolate and that number will increase over time, said Paolo Lima, coordinator of agricultural projects of non-profit organization Solidaridad in Brazil.
"Every year, more producers invest in processing infrastructure for fermentation and drying. The expectation is to reach at least ten farmers producing fine almonds by the end of the year and another ten by 2020," Lima said.
Solidaridad has been working with Tuerê family farmers since 2015 providing technical assistance and promoting low-carbon farming practices across its 170,000 hectares of land.
"This is a great opportunity to increase producers’ income because the bean-to-bar market pays better for almonds, on average four times more, and contributes to the social development of families and the environmental preservation of the region," Lima said.
Origins of bean to bar
The concept “bean to bar” was created in 1997 in San Francisco, by a group of small chocolate brands that promoted artisan production of chocolate from the cocoa bean to the bar. It takes into account not only product quality but issues such as environmental preservation and appreciation of the work of rural producers.
Lima added that investing in the growing bean-to-bar market, which represent 8% of the Brazilian chocolate market, helps farmers increase their income by cutting out middlemen.
"They usually sell to the middleman, who in turn sells to another middleman and, in the end, does not get a return as good as he could. Now we have the chance to generate more income and change their reality," he said.
In order to solidify Tuerê's reputation as a terroir for premium bean-to-bar chocolate ingredients, Solidaridad said it will begin identifying new food varieties native to the region, starting at the Tocantins River floodplain.
From almonds to cocoa
While Solidaridad's work has been with sourcing almonds to use in premium bean-to-bar chocolate products, Casa Lasevicius' founder and chocolatier, Bruno Lasevicius, sees potential in eventually using cocoa from Tuerê family farmers.
Lasevicius who is part of the bean-to-bar movement was sent samples of cocoa beans from Tuerê producers and was impressed by the quality and sensory properties of the beans.
"It was the first time I had a good experience with Amazon cacao. So I see a great potential in Solidaridad's work in the region," said Lasevicius.