Fine Chocolate Industry Association launches new membership plans to attract international professionals - LISTEN

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT


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Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) has launched a new membership drive with special incentives as it seeks to attract more craft chocolate companies and grow its impact.

For the past 15 years, the FCIA has been the place to meet for specialty cacao and chocolate professionals worldwide. After undertaking a strategic review of its membership and looking at other specialty food trade associations, the FCIA Board made the decision to restructure membership tiers and benefits to address the needs of the fine chocolate community and to respond to feedback from members and potential members.

Lauren+Adler FCIA

We have an incredibly passionate community and group of people who really care about fine chocolate -- Lauren Adler,​ co-Executive Director, FCIA

Earlier this year, FCIA launched the official Fine Chocolate Glossary, a publicly available thought-leadership tool the authors say is designed to address industry confusion by establishing a common language around all aspects of chocolate - and has become widely used by academics, journalists, business owners, researchers, influencers, and of course, chocolate lovers and consumers.

FCIA Membership drive

The FCIA has set a goal to double its membership to more than 500 members by the end of the year, with co-Executive Directors Lauren Adler and José López Ganem assembling a special committee of fine chocolate leaders to assist with outreach, including Arcelia Gallardo (Mission Chocolate), Carla Martin (Harvard University, Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute), Dahlia Graham (Fruition Chocolate), Emily Stone (Uncommon Cacao), Greg D’Alesandre (Wedgetail Venture Capital/Dandelion Chocolate), Jacques De Waele (Savage Bros), Kathy and Terry Wakefield (Catalyst 4 Change Consultants) Maricel Presilla (IICCT/International Chocolate Awards), Michael Recchiuti (Recchiuti Confections), and Monica Rogan (Goodnow Farms Chocolate).

One of the major changes to FCIA membership is dues for most members have decreased significantly and are no longer tied to company revenue, providing the opportunity for members to choose the level of engagement that best suits their organisation.

Additional benefits at premium membership levels include access to member benefits for more employees, a listing on FCIA’s consumer-facing website makeminefine.com, the option to provide handouts at FCIA events and the opportunity to present a 45-minute webinar to members. New membership tiers have been created for students, academics, and cacao producers to make membership more affordable to a broader community, and a scholarship is available to cacao producers that are not able to afford the full price of membership.

Speaking to ConfectioneryNews in our latest podcast, Lauren Adler said: “We have undertaken a membership drive to try to get to 500 members, which will be the most we've ever had. It's a big membership drive, but we have an incredibly passionate community and group of people who really care about fine chocolate who get involved and who want to make a difference.

We looked at the Specialty Coffee Association, the American Cheese Society, and we looked at the American craft distillers to see how they look at membership because I think there are parallels in terms of how we operate and how they operate and what we're trying to do for our membership. And so, we relaunched a membership structure that is based on members deciding what dues level they want to pay based on the benefits they're looking for​.

Although US-based, Adler said the FCIA is keen to expand its international community and is offering a scholarship for origin country growers and cooperatives, and it has also added a level for academics and students to attract more members from that community as well.

In our interview, Adler reiterates the FCIA is a professional nonprofit organisation representing the fine chocolate industry. “Our mission is to promote quality innovations, ethical sourcing, and best practices in the fine chocolate industry from tree to bar and beyond​,” she says.

  • Listen to the full interview with Lauren Adler in our latest podcast – and check out the excellent Fine Chocolate Glossary here​.
  • Click here ​to read more about the membership plans and to join the FCIA.

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