INTERNATIONAL CHOCOLATE PRODUCERS SHOWCASE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY
Central Italy’s annual Eurochocolate festival will feature chocolate producers from all over the world to showcase global chocolate traditions and fair-trade products.
Since the first festival in 1994, Eurochocolate has made a point of highlighting both Italian and international chocolate traditions. The event draws thousands of visitors every year to the city of Perugia, now dubbed the City of Chocolate.
This year from October 14-23, Eurochocolate is inviting producers selected from 11 cocoa producing countries around the world. The festival will feature those from Colombia, India, Peru, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Togo, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Uganda, and Madagascar. Eurochocolate named Mexico the Guest Country of Honor in recognition of Indigenous chocolate traditions.
“We are very satisfied with this participation,” Eugenio Guarducci, President of Eurochocolate, says, “which confirms the authority gained internationally by our event and which lays the foundations for potential development of concrete collaboration between the two countries on the cocoa and chocolate supply chains.”
The Secretary of Mexico’s Tourism of Tabasco, José Antonio Nieves Rodríguez, says the exhibition presents “the opportunity to become an excellent means for Italians to learn about the history and the culture of cocoa and chocolate.”
The producers will share their values of both quality and sustainability through fair trade chocolate products, emphasizing tradition alongside contemporary values of social and economic sustainability. Visitors can find the producers at the Chocolate Experience Pavilion, where they offer tastings, learning experiences, and products for sale.
ChocoTogo is one of the producers featured at Eurochocolate. Established in 2014 as the first cacao processing company in Togo, the cooperative works to reconnect farmers to the rest of the value chain. “Even the cacao farmers had never eaten chocolate,” Eric Agbokou, Founder of ChocoTogo, tells Food Tank. “We wanted to make available chocolate in our own country.”
For ChocoTogo, bridging the cacao supply chain means creating jobs to support the local economy. “We want to give back to the farmers their dignity,” Agbokou says. ChocoTogo works to do this by maintaining direct contracts with the national union of cacao farmers, which increases traceability. Many of these relationships are with family-owned farms one to two hectares in size.
Through their work ChocoTogo hopes to benefit women in particular. “We are employing our moms and older women, because they don’t have a chance to apply for jobs. No one will accept them,” Agbokou tells Food Tank. “We want to create paradise for them.” He adds that they also do what they can to re-invest in the community, putting earnings toward local development projects, including the implementation of solar energy and construction of schools.
ChocoTogo, along with the other international producers, brings to Eurochocolate 2022 global perspectives to local traditions in chocolate making. “We want to show where chocolate comes from,” Agbokou tells Food Tank.