Amsterdam Cocoa Week

2023 Cacao of Excellence Awards winners celebrate the beauty of the bean during Amsterdam Cocoa Week

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

The WORKAKAO Cooperativa Multiactiva Nodo Agricola Cacaotero won a Gold award for Colombia. Pic: CN
The WORKAKAO Cooperativa Multiactiva Nodo Agricola Cacaotero won a Gold award for Colombia. Pic: CN

Related tags Cacao Chocolate Sustainability single origin chocolate

Along with the World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting, Chocoa’s Cocoa Sustainability Conference, Amsterdam Cocoa Week was also the setting for the Cacao of Excellence awards, which recognize excellence in cacao cultivation while supporting and encouraging a more sustainable sector.

The event was a day-long live ceremony held in the main hall of the Beurs van Berlage that included a diverse range of guests, nominees, members of national organisation committees overseeing the participation of producers, as well as entities from over 50 cacao origins, cacao cooperatives, agricultural institutes, traders, buyers, manufacturers, chocolate enthusiasts, plus Chocoa Trade Fair guests.

Organised by the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the event was co-hosted by Julien Simonis, Cacao of Excellence Programme Manager, Marie-Amélie Ormières, Founder of Constellation Cacao and former Cacao of Excellence Jury Panelist, and Mariana De La Rosa, Co-Founder of Gaia Cacao and Manager at Chocoa.

Check out all the winners

The complete list of Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners can be found on the Cacao of Excellence website​.

"Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 Edition of the Cacao of Excellence Awards … whose incredible achievements and dedication continue to push the sector forward”, said Juan Lucas Restrepo, Director General of the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT.

“These Awards stand as a celebration of producers' hard work, expertise, and commitment to elevating cacao quality and sustainability. This recognition not only honours producers but also underscores the broader importance of their role in shaping the future of the cacao sector.”

Organisers said Cacao of Excellence aims to catalyse a transformation in the cacao sector by discovering and rewarding excellence, empowering farmers and connecting them to the market, driving innovation and standards, and safeguarding genetic diversity.

For the 2023 Edition, Cacao of Excellence received 222 cacao bean samples from 52 participating origins hailing from Africa and the Indian Ocean, Asia and the Pacific, Central America and the Caribbean, and South America. The process for bean reception, processing, and analysis can be found on the How the Cacao of Excellence Awards work webpage​.

The Technical Committee’s evaluation of all 222 samples processed into cacao mass led to the selection for the 2023 edition of the Best 50 nominees eligible for Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards. Nominated samples were processed into chocolate and evaluated by a broader jury panel of 32 experts from various professions such as chocolatiers, sensory evaluation experts, and bean sourcers.

Julien Simonis, Cacao of Excellence Programme Manager, said: “The 2023 Edition of the Cacao of Excellence Awards marks a monumental milestone for our programme as the new Cacao of Excellence R&D Cacao Laboratory, equipped with an exceptional team, received, analysed, and processed all submitted cacao samples following the stringent protocols outlined in our recently published Guide for the Assessment of Cacao Quality and Flavour.

“Deep appreciation goes to the 2023 Edition’s technical committee members and jury panelists for their respective analysis of cacao mass and chocolate samples. We thank every cacao producer who participated in this Edition for their extraordinary commitment and to National Organisation Committee members whose dedication made these remarkable wins possible."

She added: “The Cacao of Excellence journey continues to unfold, with an enduring commitment to honour and reward producers of Excellence, spearhead innovation in cacao quality, and empower origins to adeptly analyse, value, and market their superior quality cacao.”

For many of the 2023 participating producers who reached the Best 50, the Awards give visibility to their work and the quality of their cacao. The value of this international recognition helps them receive better prices for their efforts, ensures that the crop they grow is more sustainable, and motivates them to cultivate better cacao.

This rang true for Peru’s Gold winner, Carmen Montes Taipe of the Asociación Productores Agropecuarios Valle Nazangaro de Vizcatan del Ene-Vraem who said, “the Awards are an important window to the world, helping our product gain global recognition and creating value for our cacao.”

Related topics Ingredients R&D Chocolate Cocoa Premium

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