LONDON, England – Ecuador has been announced as a major sponsor and exhibitor of the National Chocolate Week in London. The South American country’s presence at what is the UK’s biggest and most indulgent chocolate celebration aims to showcase the very best produce the region has to offer and further cements its position as one of the most important cacao producers in the world.
Visitors will have the opportunity to taste the country’s chocolate and see just why Ecuadorian chocolate has been voted as some of the best in the world.
The event, which takes place 10 – 16 October 2011, will see some 40 chocolate companies, as well as a selection of the world’s finest chocolatiers, come together from across the globe including Ecuador, France, Italy, Grenada and Switzerland.
Marvel at chocolate sculptures, watch chocolate cooking demonstrations from top chocolatiers and pastry chefs, taste a variety of exciting new flavours, as well as unexpected pairings and classic favourites, all culminating in the event’s highlight – Chocolate Unwrapped
“I am delighted that our country has such a huge presence at the show. It will allow us to showcase one of our country’s greatest exports, and also share with visitors the way in which cacao production has shaped the history of our country,” says Freddy Ehlers, Minister of Tourism of Ecuador.
“Cacao plays a vital role in supporting many livelihoods and sustaining communities and it is the generations of knowledge passed down, which has led Ecuador to become a leader in the production of the highest quality chocolates in the world.”
Ecuador has a rich chocolate history and is one of the top-producing cacao countries in the world, producing approximately 63 per cent of the world’s cocoa.
While Africa is known for producing large quantities of good cacao beans, Latin America and the Caribbean are known for producing beans with distinctive tasting notes. Ecuador is best known for the Arriba bean, a well-balanced floral bean with fruit notes and herbal tones, which will showcased at the Chocolate Week.
Like wine, chocolate reflects the distinct flavours of its region, with climate conditions and how the beans are dried and fermented playing a vital role in the overall taste.
Earlier this year, super-sized National Cacao beans, which experts thought were long extinct, were rediscovered in Ecuador. Said by many to be the most genetically pure expression of cacao ever found, the football-sized white beans have a far less bitter aftertaste than the traditional purple cacao bean making it the bean of choice for high quality and intense-flavoured chocolate.
Recognising the importance of cacao production to the country, a recently cooperation agreement between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Rainforest Alliance, and the United Nations Environment Programme, will soon allow producers in Ecuador to improve their production whilst contributing to biodiversity in their regions.
GEF is contributing $5million and raising another $15million from partner companies in an effort to unite cacao producers, small chocolate businesses, as well as the chocolate industry, and focus on improving the way cocoa is
being cultivated and commercialised.
The six year project will bring ten per cent of the world’s cacao supply into more sustainable systems, and according to statistics from the Rainforest Alliance, Ecuador could contribute some six per cent of this overall goal.
Three of the best chocolate trails in Ecuador:
– Equator Trekking – take your very own tour along the Ecuadorian Cacao route, known as the ‘cacao fino de aroma’, and discover some of the finest cacao in the world. This in-depth tour takes you on a journey of human depth and interaction through the history and origin of cacao to its present-day position as one of the main exporters of cacao in the world. www.equatortrekking.com
– Ecuador For All – visit small indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Coast, follow the cocoa beans from the fields to collection centres to be fermented and dried, and learn why Ecuadorian cocoa is so highly appreciated in the chocolate industry. www.ecuadorforall.com
– Jeffrey Stern, a chef and leading chocolate maker in Ecuador, offers tailor-made chocolate tours throughout Ecuador. Taste various Ecuadorian dark chocolates at the Gianduja workshop, take a truffle making class, visit cacao plantations in the heart of Ecuador’s cacao country – the Los Rios province – or head to the Amazon to see the Kallari cooperative. Visit the community-based operation of Salinerito in the town of Guaranda, or a bigger chocolate making plant in Guayaquil. http://jeffreygstern.com