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Colombia set to be key player in global cocoa sector after impressing at NorthWest Chocolate Festival in Seattle

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

The Somos Cacao team representing Colombian cocoa at the NorthWest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. Pic: Somos Cacao
The Somos Cacao team representing Colombian cocoa at the NorthWest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. Pic: Somos Cacao

Related tags Colombia Chocolate Cocoa Sustainability

With 95% of exported beans classed as ‘fine flavour cacao’, Colombia's reputation in the world of chocolate is unparalleled, and after a successful showing at Seattle’s NorthWest Chocolate Festival by a quartet of artisanal companies, the word is quickly spreading.

The country’s production spans more than 30 departments of the country, encompassing a wide regional climate diversity that translates into a unique flavour palette.

Between 2021 and 2022, Colombian exports of cocoa and its derivatives to the United States experienced an impressive growth of 43%, surpassing the average increase in the agri-food sector, which grew by 27% during the same period, according to ProColombia USA, the Colombian government’s agency to promote trade, exports, and tourism.

In 2022, agri-food sector exports to the United States reached $3.9 billion, of which cocoa and its derivatives exports totalled $29.9 million. These figures underscore the growing acceptance of Colombian cocoa and its derivatives in the US market, as well as the immense business potential associated with this exquisite product cultivated in Colombia, the agency said.

To underscore the value of its cocoa exports to the US, ProColombia had a significant presence this week at the NorthWest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, US, which is recognised as the premier chocolate event in North America.

The Colombian stand included presentations by companies: Somos Cacao, Cacao y más Cacao, Biocacao Morumbi, and Madrevieja Chocolate.

Quality, innovation, and variety are the main characteristics of the confectionery sector in our country. As a matter of fact, in Colombia, thanks to our immense biodiversity, cocoa is sown from 0 to 1,200 meters above sea level, which favours the variety of sensory profiles and even the fats percentage​,” said Carmen Caballero, President of ProColombia.

Besides the advantages and uniqueness of our added-value cocoa and derivates, its production is pivotal because it strengthens the development of our regions, so being able to participate in events like these and showing our offer helps us achieve our purpose of bringing peace and growth to our communities,​” she added.

Somos Cacao says it is dedicated to preserving the historical and productive tradition of Fine Aroma Ancestral Cacao in the Norte de Santander region. It claims to have perfected the 'tree-to-bar' concept and has won multiple awards for its chocolates. Its certified agronomic practices and work with local cacao farming families make it a beacon of peace in a region historically affected by conflict.

Erika Sánchez, CEO of Somos Cacao, told this publication it focussed on sharing its story, which very few or no one knows, at the NW Chocolate Festival.

"Over four thousand years ago, between the Perijá mountains and the range surrounding the southern part of Lake Maracaibo, the tree that originated the world's finest cocoa was born, and Norte de Santander is part of that significant origin​.

She said that as the festival was centred on quality and origin, the company directly connected with this concept and managed to showcase the fine flavour and aroma cocoa with high aromatic potential and other sensory virtues that set them apart from the rest.

Between 5 and 7% of the world's cocoa production falls into this category, and our territory, due to its strategic geographic location, is privileged for the cultivation of special cocoa​.

Somos Cacao has become an immersive project that fosters social growth together. Our commitment is to drive productivity in territories affected by violence in sectors grounded in the appreciation of a social fabric that is passionate and committed to peace and the land. In this way, we generate values, quality of life, and respect for responsible and sustainable practices​. “


She said that although the company achieved over 50% in sales and orders at the festival, it is difficult for some Colombian companies to exhibit at international trade fairs because of a lack of government financial support to help cover costs.

We are promoting Colombian agriculture as well​,” she said. “Satisfaction came from seeing the faces of buyers as they tasted the chocolates, connecting with potential future customers who not only want the chocolates but also want to delve deeper into the process, creating tourism opportunities for our department. This includes the first cocoa museum and an on-farm experience for harvesting and transforming cocoa into chocolate, all located in Norte de Santander​.”

  • Morumbi Cacao is a producer of premium cacao beans under the 'Single Estate Plantation' model, which ensures quality and traceability. Its farm is located in Puerto Lleras, Meta, a region transformed by peace processes and cacao cultivation. It was selected as one of the best cacao producers to represent Colombia at the Cocoa of Excellence event in Chocoa Amsterdam 2023.
  • Cacao y más Cacao is located in the historic centre of Bogotá, La Candelaria, and specialises in the careful processing of cocoa and uses environmentally friendly packaging with the aim of making an ethical and social impact.
  • Madrevieja Chocolate was the fourth company representing Colombia in Seattle, also specializing in the ‘Tree to bar’ concept, with the artisanal chocolate brand inspired by Colombia’s rich biodiversity.

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