The Department of Santander ranks first in hectares planted, production tonnage, and exports of cocoa beans and processed and semi-finished products.
Over the last decade, the cocoa industry in Colombia has grown substantially at a national level. Today, the product is produced in 30 of the 32 departments of the country. Santander is the leading department in production and is also the region of origin for the multidisciplinary socioeconomic project known as “Mountain Chocolat.”
The National Federation of Cocoa Growers FEDECACAO, the Cámara de Comercio de Barrancabermeja, the Cámara de Comercio de Bucaramanga, the Gironés company, and the region’s Higher Education Institutions (HEI), among other organizations, are promoting the project to position Colombian cocoa on an international scale.
In broad terms, the work plan seeks to improve the entire harvesting, production, and marketing process, ranging from operational to social and economic aspects, to benefit farmers and the cocoa industry’s value chain.
Department of Santander is the nation’s leader
According to the National Agricultural Census, of the 175,000 hectares planted with cocoa in Colombia—only 140,000 are in production—more than 46,000 are located in Santander, representing 23.4% of the national total. Production is estimated at between 350kg and 800kg per hectare.
Of the almost 60 thousand tons of cocoa produced in 2019 in Colombia—65% more than ten years ago—Santander stands out by far, exporting 7 thousand tons of cocoa beans to Mexico (50%), Europe (30%), and Asia (20%), as well as 13 thousand tons of processed and semi-processed product to more than 80 countries.
Colombia is currently the 10th largest cocoa producer globally, and its main international markets are Mexico, Malaysia, and Belgium. It is worth noting that the prices per pound of cocoa for Colombia are set on the New York Stock Exchange in dollars.
The qualities of Colombian cocoa
Colombia has ideal geographical conditions for cultivation; it is estimated that there are more than 100 million cocoa trees in the country. They have developed their own genetics with mixtures of clones, which are generally native and foreign.
Their cocoa has good organoleptic characteristics. It is delicate and aromatic, with fruity flavors and floral notes, and a strongly accentuated flavor. Different aspects such as bitterness, astringency, etc., can be detected.
There are ordinary cocoas that are plentiful in volume and disease resistant in terms of production but with less flavor. They also produce fine cocoas, ranked first in the Cocoa of Excellence program at the Paris Chocolate Salon.
The United States is among the top 20 countries that consume the most chocolate per year. The people behind the “Mountain Chocolat” project welcome buyers looking to diversify their sources of chocolate flavor and encourage them to experience the flavors of Colombian cocoa.
“Mountain Chocolat’s” commitment is to research, create, and develop products for integration and promotion in marketing channels based on an understanding of the international market, ensuring a win-win outcome for producers, buyers, and consumers.