Award-winning cocoa smallholders at Salon du Chocolat

Brazilian smallholder cocoa farmers at the Salon du Chocolat event in Paris demonstrate how they protect the Amazon basin while producing fine chocolate.

The Salon du Chocolat in Paris is the world's largest trade event dedicated to chocolate and cocoa. A trend catalyst, it brings together 500 exhibitors from 60 countries. Francisco Cruz, a cocoa smallholder from Tuerê, Brazil, who had never travelled by plane before, crossed the Atlantic to participate in this year's event, which was held from 30 October to 4 November.

Francisco Cruz at the 2019 Paris Salon de Chocolat

For consumers, traceability – knowing where and how goods are produced – is in high demand. Francisco’s participation provided an opportunity for visitors to learn directly from a grower about the origins of the Tuerê terroir and how cocoa cultivation can help rebuild forested areas in the Amazon.

“We took the opportunity to talk about biodiversity in the Amazon basin and how important it is to preserve it,” says Francisco. “We explained that cocoa cultivation is expanding, but only in areas that were already open and degraded, and that we are now reforesting those areas with cocoa and shade trees.” Francisco is a strong advocate for continuous improvement, adding, “Not only do we have to work to increase volumes, but also to create added value.”

 We talked about biodiversity in the Amazon basin and how important it is to preserve it” – Francisco Cruz, cocoa farmer in Tuerê, Brazil 

A terroir designates a  clearly defined and homogenous geographical area whose geology or climate gives special characteristics to agricultural products such as grapes, coffee and tea. Earlier this year, Solidaridad and Casa Lasevicius launched a new terroir of fine chocolates from the Tuerê area in Pará, Brazil, where Solidaridad runs a low carbon agriculture programme.

The programme supports family farmers like Francisco to take up cocoa cultivation within agroforestry systems. They are encouraged to include native species that provide key flavour notes and shade, and to improve bean quality to access better prices on the fine chocolate market. 

Casa Lasevicius's Tuerê gourmet chocolate bars, featuring drawings of the growers, and cocoa bean samples

Casa Lasevicius is a small gourmet producer, crafting bean-to-bar products with cocoa from the project’s growers. “Solidaridad’s programme works with some very talented people, but the area they are farming should also be highlighted. I’m sure that it's eligible for single-origin designation,” says Bruno Lasevicius, chocolatier at Casa Lasevicius.

Pará State’s Secretariat of Agricultural Development and Fisheries invited Francisco to participate in the Salon after Casa Lasevicius swept the board at the fine chocolate contest held in the state capital Belém in September. Its dark chocolate (70% cocoa) won gold, silver and bronze, and its milk chocolate (50% cocoa) gold and silver.

Francisco Cruz and the rest of the Brazilian presence at Salon du Chocolat

For Pedro Santos, consultant at Solidaridad Brazil, having Tuerê cocoa producers at the Paris Salon for the second consecutive year is a reward for everyone’s hard work. “We bring technical knowledge to growers and raise awareness of the importance of producing quality beans. And together we demonstrate that the cocoa has potential, as proven by its presence at this event.”

>Find out more about Solidaridad's work in the cocoa supply chain