Lutheran World Relief to Link Latin American and Haitian Farmers to Global Markets at International Cocoa Event

The Salon du Chocolat is an annual trade fair for the international chocolate industry.

BALTIMORE, Oct. 23, 2015—Lutheran World Relief is supporting farmers from Latin America and Haiti in reaching out to international fine cocoa buyers and chocolate makers by participating in the Salon du Chocolat, a premier forum for the industry.

The Salon du Chocolat is scheduled for Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center in Paris. The Lutheran World Relief booth will be located in the Exhibition Hall at #E27.

By bringing farmers to the event, LWR seeks to highlight the high quality of cocoa produced in countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Perú.

“Cocoa is native to the Americas and has been cultivated by generations of these farmers, and their product is excellent,” said Carolina Aguilar, LWR’s country director for Nicaragua. “Scientific development and agricultural practice has generated cocoa varieties that are considered among the best in the world.”

Still, challenges remain, she said.

“Even though there is great potential, the cocoa producers in the region are facing technical and commercial hurdles in reaching bigger markets,” she said. “They need greater involvement from chocolate companies to achieve a sustainable cocoa supply chain.”

Recently, in alliance with the International Cocoa of Excellence Program, LWR helped to organize local Cocoa of Excellence competitions. Samples from Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti were included in the 50 finalists. Out of these entries, 17 International Cocoa Awards will be announced Oct. 28 at the Salon du Chocolat.

The Cocoa of Excellence Program is the entry point for farmers to participate in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA), the only competition of its kind recognizing the work of cocoa farmers and celebrating the diversity of cocoa flavors globally.Every two years, this unique program spearheaded by Bioversity International and Event International recognizes quality cocoas according to their origin, with the participation of over 35 cocoa-producing countries which can directly present the fruit of their work to chocolate makers and the press during the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

More information on the awards ceremony and the Cocoa of Excellence program is available at www.cocoaofexcellence.org.

LWR will also be collaborating during the Salon with AMACACAO, the Mesoamerican Association of Fine Cacao and Chocolate, a new initiative involving several LWR partners in the region, to promote high quality cocoa from Central America. More information on that can be found at http://www.cunakakaw.com.

LWR will also host a panel during the event with farmers from Honduras, Haiti and Nicaragua on Saturday, Oct. 31 titled A Dialogue with Producers from Central America and Haiti: Fine Cocoa Territories.

The farmers on the panel include:

Ernesto Reyes, producer and founding member of the Honduran cocoa cooperative COPRACAGUAL, which is part of the best 50 samples for this year’s Cocoa of Excellence competition. For Ernesto, who has been engaged in production and post-harvest cocoa quality since 1980, cocoa farming is a family heritage, and he has achieved organic certification for his farm.

Joseph Josué Serjuste, a cocoa producer, partner and President of the CAPUP cooperative in Haiti, also selected among the best 50 samples for this year’s Cocoa of Excellence competition. Joseph has contributed to improve the quality of the cocoa that CAPUP produces, gaining extensive experience in fermentation. He has helped the cooperative to obtain the award of excellence in the first edition of a chocolate competition in Haiti.

Alfonso Tapia, producer, partner and president of the COODEPROSA cooperative in Nicaragua. A founding member of the cooperative, under his leadership the organization received a first and two second places in national quality competitions. COODEPROSA is one of the three samples representing Nicaragua this year in the International Cocoa of Excellence competition.

Below is a listing of LWR staff members and partners who will be attending the event. Please notify the press contacts at the top of this release if you would like to meet or interview any of them.

  • Carolina Aguilar, LWR Country Director, Nicaragua (Spanish, English)
  • Jenny Wiegel, LWR Regional Representative, Central America (English, Spanish)
  • Luc Maille Lefranc, LWR Country Director, Haiti (French, Spanish, English)
  • Eduardo Contreras, LWR Country Director, Peru (Spanish)
  • Joseph Josué Serjuste, Cocoa producer, partner & President of CAPUP cooperative, Haiti (French)
  • Bernard Coppens, LWR Country Director, Honduras (French, Spanish, English)
  • Alfonso Tapia, Producer, partner and President of COODEPROSA cooperative, Nicaragua (Spanish)
  • Ernesto Reyes, Producer and founding member of COPRACAGUAL cooperative, Honduras (Spanish)
  • Justine Poldor, LWR Program Manager, Haiti (French, Spanish, English)
  • Eduardo Zacapa, Producer, El Salvador (Spanish)