Sun, Apr 29, 2012 - Page 11 News List

US anti-cocaine push embitters Peru chocolate makers

Peruvian gourmets see a strong future in native cocoa as they seek to make the country the main cocoa source for high-end chocolate makers — if they can overcome the popular US-promoted CCN-51 hybrid

By Caroline Stauffer  /  Reuters, LIMA

Cocoa grown by former coca-planting farmers supported by USAID is sold as La Orquidea chocolate bars alongside Lindt and Toblerone in Peruvian grocery stores. In 2010, those farmers won a certificate at the Salon de Chocolat in Paris, surprising purists who consider CCN-51 incapable of producing quality chocolate.

Herrera says hybrids like CCN-51 can be considered organic, depending on how they are grown and that the cooperatives are working with scientists to develop a new, better-tasting hybrid by grafting the CCN-51 onto native cocoa.

However, Balbi says that practice endangers native varieties, which are becoming harder to find. She wants farmers to focus less on quantity and more on quality.

“Peru is a country of fine, aromatic cocoa and like all good things, it comes in small quantities,” she said.

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