cocoa industry

Last week, we covered how more and more small-scale chocolate producers are coming online. Now we turn to the bright future that cocoa has in Trinidad and Tobago.

The announcement last Wednesday of the launch of Angostura’s new cocoa Bitters is a good example of the future of the sector as a whole in Trinidad and Tobago: a dynamic bringing together of the history and heritage of the cocoa sector in T&T blended into a distinctive bottle. It is a very exciting project that should act as an ambassador for promoting Trinitario globally.

There is an opportunity in finding unique products, working with unique brands and creating a unique experience. In short, getting our cocoa to be used in different places and in different ways. That could be bitters or it could be a range of culinary applications and distinctive value added products like frozen desserts, in coffee houses and ice creams. Everyone makes a chocolate bar. We in T&T can do so much more than that.

Indeed, Trinidad & Tobago Fine Cocoa Company (TTFCC) is mentioned as an innovative chocolate company in the Caribbean region by the Lonely Planet Global Chocolate Tour. There is no reason why T&T should not be able to capitalise on initiatives like this. We have the expertise, we have the equipment and we have the creativity so let’s go!

Unique experiences involve taking the consumer to experience something of origin. Allowing someone to go on a holiday through taste and storytelling. In Trinidad and Tobago, the future is being able to do that. How we do that is to work on improving our online retailing, having consumers be allowed to access our products anywhere in the world and be able to ship anywhere in the world. This has been achieved by TTFCC through its partnership with DHL and there is no reason why anyone else can’t do that.

T&T needs to think global, especially at a time where the end consumer is going to want the smallest detail of their end product available at their fingertips.

Social media and direct market connectivity, online trading, instant storytelling, mixed with the ability to send your products by courier services. That is where demand is going. International chocolate companies have reported that online sales have increased to become 30 per cent of their revenue. We believe Trinidad is going that way too.

Chocolate does not grow on trees as a chocolate bar. There is a long journey to move from tree to your kitchen table. We can play a role in educating people about that journey using online tools, until such time that we are able to bring people back to our factory at La Reunion Estate in Centeno for tours in person.

Once flights are resumed, agro-tourism is sure to play a big part in future holidaymakers’ wishes. Improving quality and yield and bringing people down to Trinidad and Tobago will highlight the agricultural potential of the country. Agriculture is becoming the future of T&T. That is so exciting!

What has been neglected over 60 years is finally getting its rightful attention and we should all, private and public sector, development agencies and research organisations play a part in that.

Local cocoa producers can also access information from international agencies.

TTFCC together with Fauna & Flora International in Belize is supporting a group of Belizean farmers who are living in a conservation zone and we have a project demonstrating that conservation and agriculture can live together sustainably. It does not have to be mutually exclusive, it can be a space that is used sustainably and in a balanced way.

There is also collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation to support the protection of farmers’ intellectual property and with the African, Caribbean and Pacific secretariat to ensure there is shared learning between those three regions.

There are opportunities not just for Trinidad but also regionally in the Caribbean, including nutmeg from Grenada and sea salt from the Grenadines.

In sustainable practices, in particular, Africa could learn a great deal. We are imparting experiences for shared learning through the International Trade Centre in Geneva.

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