World Cocoa and Chocolate Day Expo-2019
An inbound mission to showcase Caribbean chocolatiers and microlot bean
producers to the world.
The Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (CRC-UWI) is regarded as the oldest cocoa research centre, globally, and the custodian of the world’s largest and most diverse cocoa collection – The International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad. Its mission is to support the development of a thriving Caribbean Cocoa Export Sector to become an important economic diversification option for the Caribbean region through research and development initiatives.
CRC-UWI celebrates the World Cocoa and Chocolate Day, yearly, by mounting an expo to celebrate and showcase the over 60 chocolatiers who have established start-ups in Trinidad and Tobago in October. The event last year attracted over 5000 entrants over two days. CRC-UWI has trained over 250 chocolatiers in the Caribbean over the past 5 years and has established technology and business incubators as part of the International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre (EU/ACP Science and Technology Fund) to support the development of a value-add business sector around the cocoa farming sector. This event has been critical to the growth of the value-add sector locally.
In addition, there is a burgeoning niche, boutique chocolate sector in metropolitan cities in Europe, Japan and North America which requires small volumes of high quality and traceable microlots of cocoa beans for which the niche market is prepared to pay 3-5X premium. To support the Caribbean fine or flavour cocoa producers to be able to access this very lucrative market CRC-UWI has established a farmer apprenticeship training, a cocoa quality certification laboratory and a total quality and traceability system to support bean-to-bar marketing of microlots as part of an IDB-MIF funded project. CRC-UWI is also in the process of setting up an eMarketing platform for such microlots.
Thirdly, there has been a growing cocoa-based agro-tourism sector in the Caribbean that offers a diverse array of experiences which if nurtured could become an important attraction towards building a lucrative tourism sector around the cocoa sector.
The current event
This year the World Cocoa and Chocolate Day Expo is being staged at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain between the 4-5th October, 2019 with the overall objective of facilitating regional cocoa entrepreneurs to explore new and more attractive markets, so that they become successful businesses. It differs from the previous editions in a number of ways. This year we will attract a number of partners and co-sponsors to support this event. The event this year
- moves from a national stage to an international stage and will attract regional cocoa entrepreneurs (farmers, chocolatiers, agrotourism operators), international buyers, cocoa manufacturers, retail chocolate boutiques, chocolate bloggers and enthusiasts.
- provides a venue for cocoa entrepreneurs to showcase their branded products and unique selling propositions to potential buyers.
- facilitates b2b interaction between regional and international entrepreneurs through facilitated meetings.
- showcases innovations around bean-to-bar marketing that has evolved including small-scale equipment, certification and traceability systems, microlot marketing options etc.
- stages a regional chocolate confectionary, beverage and cuisine competition with awards and expose entrepreneurs to other international awards and systems of merit and branding.
- stages cultural events such as cocoa dance, cocoa fashion show etc.
- creates a culinary experience involving the Hyatt Regency Chefs and International chefs to showcase an array of cocoa based food and beverages
- provides post expo agrotourism experiences around the local cocoa sector through arranged visits
- will create a buzz around the event and the Caribbean Cocoa Brand, internationally by inviting international chocolate bloggers.
The Caribbean region is home to 6 out of the eight countries that are regarded as exclusive fine or flavour cocoa producers. Although the cocoa sector of the region remains a promise, it has not transformed itself into an important international export industry nor a viable sustainable domestic or regional industry that can provide diversification and employment options for countries in the region. With the emergence and the burgeoning growth of the boutique sector in the metropolises of the world it is possible for the small farmers and other entrepreneurs in the Caribbean to become economically viable. At the back-end training, quality management, certification and traceability systems as well as branding are necessary while at the front-end greater exposure, building a Caribbean brand and market innovations particularly with regards to logistics are important. Similarly, the value added sector has not adequately captured the thriving Caribbean tourism market. These require multi-actor support systems as well as innovation and entrepreneurship. The event will celebrate the successes while highlighting and co-designing the path that we must still travel to become a global industry with a domestic and regional footprint that can be reckoned with. The clock is ticking and other countries are thriving to fill the emerging space in the cocoa boutique sector while expanding their global brands. We must act expeditiously and in partnership….
Partnerships and funding
CRC-UWI is executing a project with support from IDB-MIF that provides part funding for the hosting of the event. The Hyatt Regency has agreed to become an important partner in the event by providing the venue. The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries through the Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago has agreed to provide important support. We are seeking assistance to bring niche chocolatiers, equipment suppliers, experts, bloggers and buyers from Europe to the event as well as to fund innovation-driven side events as partial support and / or contribution for hosting this major international event.
For more information or to offer partnership support, please do not hesitate to contact
Prof Path Umaharan
Cocoa Research Centre, The University of the West Indies,
St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: (868) 662 8788