Cocoa (Theobroma cacao, L.) originated from the Amazon region of South America and in Central America.. It needs a high temperature, plenty of water, and air that is always moist. Therefore, cocoa is grown in hot and humid regions. According to the World AgroForestry Centre, there are three broad types of cocoa:

  • Forastero
  • Crillo
  • Trinitario

According to an FAO document, Trinitario plants are cultivated hybrids that are mainly grown in the Caribbean, further developed in Trinidad. 

Cocoa is important as a commodity in the world economy. According to an article by Lorraine Waldropt on page 59 of the 2016 Caribbean Export Outlook: “Today, the world cocoa industry is an almost US $100 billion industry, poised to grow by another 20% over the next decade. According to the World Cocoa Foundation, 40-50 million people depend on cocoa for their livelihood. In CARIFORUM cocoa-producing countries, tens of thousands of rural, low-income farmers and workers engage in the cocoa industry that serves hundreds of thousands of dependents.” World production is in excess of 3 million tons with exports of the beans and semi-processed products valued at more than US $5 billion.

Current Situation

The Caribbean is held in high regard as a cocoa-producing region because most countries produce a fine or aromatic (as opposed to bulk) cocoa. Fine cocoa accounts for only 5% of world production and is concentrated in few countries. Based on the International Cocoa Agreement of 1993, only 17 countries produce fine cocoa, and of those, only eight are recognized as exclusive producers. The Caribbean accounts for seven of the eight exclusive producers:

  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad and Tobago

A report entitled Competitiveness of Cocoa Production Systems in Trinidad and Tobago notes that, “Fine flavour cocoa beans from Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean islands, command a premium price on the international market. Trinidad and Tobago also has the advantage of being a leading center of cocoa germplasm research” being the home of the internationally acclaimed Cocoa Research Centre.

Cocoa production is also associated with its fair share of tourism. In Belize there are chocolate tours, showing how the crop is grown and processed, particularly in the Mayan communities. In Grenada, Belmont Estates offers tours to visitors to farms and to witness the chocolate making process.

Increasing the effectiveness and productivity of the fine cocoa industry in the Caribbean will also be the key focus of the US$2.5 million project: “The International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre (IFCIC)” at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, in partnership with the CFCF, the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC) and Newer Worlds, UK.

The Innovation Centre will provide the infrastructure for action research, development, experimentation and business modelling for extracting more of the economic value of the cocoa bean. This will be effected through the provision of specialised processing equipment and the know-how to convert the bean to the many downstream derivatives – cocoa butter, cocoa powder, cocoa paste, and cocoa liquor.

Business Case

Why invest in cocoa production?

  • There is currently a growing demand for fine or flavour cocoa world-wide, due to generally improved living standards in traditional markets and the opening of new market opportunities in Eastern Europe and Asia. There is a growing demand for the product internationally. 
  • Demand for fine cocoa will attract premium prices in niche markets for consistent supplies of good quality cocoa.
  • Demand for fine cocoa current exceeds production.
  • Trees mature and produce fruit at least twice a year, giving farmers increased chances to cash in.
  • Increased demand can only serve to increase the prices paid to the local growers for their cocoa beans. 

Cocoa and Chocolate Producers and processors


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