At the turn of the 20th century, Ecuador was the leading supplier of cocoa around the world. After a fungal disease ravaged the crop in 1916, however, the country fell from stardom and many cocoa barrons from Europe shut down production. Though the industry never fully recovered, the absence of foreign oversight allowed small, family-based farms to dominate. Growing cocoa beans has allowed indigenous tribes and farmers alike to preserve the natural environment around them, while improving their wages and living conditions.
Our partner, Valrhona, makes these their top concern when working with producers. Today, Ecuador produces only 4% of international cocoa yields, but 70% of the fine, upper class product bought by chocolatiers worldwide. This is largely due to the special class of cocoa only grown in Ecuador, called Arriba or Nacional.
THE PLANTATION: OSELLA S.A.
The Osella company and its director Jacinto Andrade have been contributing to the commercial strength of Ecuador's emblematic cocoa variety, the well-named Nacional, for 30 years. Small, medium and large producers, intermediate cooperatives: the plantation involves 50 families directly and 200 more indirectly. Valrhona provides technical and commercial support to ensure that this pearl of the Pacific Coast will shine for a long time.
PHOTOGRAPHIES: LAURENT VU FOR VALRHONA