Hosted each year by the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association (TTMA), this year’s TIC will serve as an introduction of sorts for both the Cocoa Development Company of TT Limited (CDCTTL) and for valueadded products made from local fine/flavour cocoa.

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How is this being done? Business Day got a preview of the CDCTTL exhibit from its chairman, Winston Rudder, during an interview at the company’s Yard Street, Chaguanas office last week.

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“The theme of our TIC exhibition is ‘The Cocoa Revolution’, which is all about how we intend to go about the business of developing the industry – no longer in a segmented approach.

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Rather, we are looking at the dynamics of the entire industry.

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So our booth will take you from the growing of cocoa through harvesting of the beans, processing, straight into manufacturing of chocolate and other products.” Copeland added, “we want visitors to have a ‘wow’ experience – to realise that all of this is happening right here in TT.

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At the end of the tour, you will come to a café where you can enjoy cocoa drinks, liqueurs and samples of chocolate made by our local chocolatiers.” TIC 2016, whose theme is “Creating Pathways for Business”, begins today (July 7) and runs until Sunday, July 10 in the Torenia Hall (formerly the Andre Kamperveen Hall), Centre of Excellence, Macoya.

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The current CDCTTL board was appointed four months ago, on March 14, 2016.

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Being a relatively new board, Rudder said TIC 2016 “offers an opportunity” to educate the locals and foreigners alike about what CDCTTL does and the various stakeholders it works with.

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“Our mandate is to coordinate all the activities along the cocoa value chain, from production to marketing to trade.

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In other words, from bean to bar.

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What we will highlight at TIC is the fact that we are in the process of projecting TT in a very coordinated way in the world of cocoa and chocolate,” Rudder told Business Day.

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He emphasised that by working closely with cocoa stakeholders, the board aims to identify and address “whatever constraints exist which are holding back the development of the industry, particularly when it comes to value-added products such as cocoa butter and high quality dark chocolate.” Asked about his vision for the sector, Rudder said it would be to ensure a vibrant, productive cocoa industry.

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“One which uses technology and business acumen to ensure all stakeholders, particularly cocoa growing communities, enjoy improved livelihoods.

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We also see the cocoa industry as a great way to promote rural development since most cocoa farms are located in rural areas.” Rudder said the future of the industry lies in the creation and sale, locally and via export, of “a range of cocoa and chocolate products, whether it be for pharmaceuticals, food, beauty products and high-end chocolates.” TT has an edge of some of the competition – we produce a superior quality cocoa, which fetches a premium price on the world market.

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Referred to as fine/ flavour cocoa, it is produced from Trinitario beans.

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As described on the website of the CDCTTL’s predecessor, The Cocoa and Coffee Industry Board of TT (CCIBTT), Trinitario beans are “characterised by a full cocoa flavour with pleasant ancillary flavours such as molasses, liquorice, caramel, nuts and raisin.

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Simply described as fruity.” Some manufacturers consider this cocoa as superior and of the highest quality.

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There is a niche market for such cocoa, which is mainly used in speciality products in Europe and North America.

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In addition, TT won prizes for its cocoa in the 2010 and 2011 Salon du Chcocolat in the categories of spicy/fruity and floral.

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The CCIBTT also noted that the world cocoa market distinguishes between two broad categories of cocoa beans: “fine or flavour” cocoa beans, and “bulk” or “ordinary” cocoa beans.

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As a generalisation, fine or flavour cocoa beans are produced from Criollo or Trinitario cocoa-tree varieties, while bulk cocoa beans come from Forastero trees.

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The share of fine or flavour cocoa in the total world production of cocoa beans is just under 5 percent per annum.

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Virtually all major activity over the past five decades has involved bulk cocoa.

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Referring to this data, Rudder said another area of importance for the CDCTTL board is ensuring high standards in cocoa production because without quality Trinitario beans, TT’s foreign exchange earning potential is diminished.

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“TT produces about 500 to 600 tonnes of cocoa beans now, which is way below our potential.

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In our heyday of 1921, we used to produce 35,000 tonnes but our focus is not on bulk production.

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Whatever cocoa beans we produce must be of high quality.

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Doing so requires adherence to standards, certification, testing.” Rudder noted that like cocoa beans are now identified by location, which indicates how the flora and fauna in a particular area affects the flavour of the bean and therefore the taste of chocolate made from it.

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Business Day asked if the CDCTTL is planning to partner with reputable department stores and supermarket chains in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States, perhaps targeting the Caribbean diaspora, to promote TT-made chocolate and/ or cocoa products.

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“This is something we are considering,” Rudder replied.

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“The CDCTTL will support any aspect of the industry that requires development, including examination of markets, so that cocoa-growing communities are better able to produce high-end quality value-added products.” The CDCTTL also plans to begin conducting a census in three or four months because it lacks current “hard data” on which to create a formal strategic plan for development of the cocoa industry.

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Persons seeking more information on the CDCTTL can call (672- 1001), email [email protected] or visit their Facebook page, “Cocoa Development Company TT”.

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