BULK VERSUS BOUTIQUE CACAO AND YOUR PART, AS THE CONSUMER, IN IT...

Oonagh Browne

Helping you the consumer understand more..in 360 degree care

Written in Honiara, Solomon Islands 20th October 2019

Background

There are two main markets in Cacao, the bulk market and the boutique market. The bulk market buys beans at a crazy low price and uses it for cocoa powder, cookies, ice-creams etc.

 Cacao / chocolate is one of the few foods where its flavour profile cannot be replicated in a lab – so if anything has chocolate flavour – somewhere in there, no matter how small, there is some of the Cacao bean in some way.

The photos below were taken from a day of buying wet beans from the farmers, so the beans can be fermented and solar dried to a high ,consistent standard. Most of these farmers have not be trained in how to ferment and solar dry - we trained many of them a few days later in this process and how to cook at home so they can enjoy their own beans daily..it is life changing for them!

In the bulk market it is impossible to trace where the Cacao has come from, the lives of the farmers, their income, the conditions on the farms etc. Its important to know this.

With the boutique market, the beans are finer, the sourcing often can and should be tracked, often it is organic and will be used in more high end chocolate (but sadly not always) …

 These should be the beans you use for your 8 cacao beans a day and what you use you know as much as possible about the sourcing.

Basically the majority of Cacao farmers live below the poverty line. Why should they? They work hard and grow an amazing crop that we love to eat. Its possible for a full 360 care so that all involved in Cacao right through to enjoying it is cared for. This kind of Cacao carries a code and frequency of goodness not just because it is good for you but because everyone along the way is cared for and receives and gives in it. Cacao is calling for such care and connection so its health benefits also benefits those who grow it…

 ENTER THE SOLOMON ISLANDS…

Cacao was planted here first in 1958 and it was planted for the bulk market and farmers trained to harvest it for bulk which also included smoke drying..and for the bulk market of course the price per kilo is pretty shocking. They can get less then $2 per kilo.

 As a beautiful tropical islands, where there is no spraying and Cacao naturally grows as shade grown Cacao, there is amazingly and wonderfully the possibility for the cacao here to be for the boutique market. The flavour profile opportunity is here for it to be for the boutique market. Even though a robust strain of cacao was planted here, Cacao will adapt and change based on the purpose of the farmers. If the intention is to produce for smoke drying and for bulk, the Cacao tree will produce strong robust beans that are very bitter but if the farmer’s intention is to provide for the boutique market then the trees will start to adjust their flavour profile and the quality and its sensitivity.

People think I am crazy, but the trees share this directly with me and much more. Today I was on one farm and the farmer asked me if he could show me one of his trees. He said ‘I have not seen such shaped pods on another farm’. And sure enough he had unusual pods and he said the beans are bigger and sweeter. I shared with him why, in that he is taking more care and the trees are responding and producing finer beans, and he got it. The farmers here do not think I am crazy when I share what their trees are saying, rather they rejoice in it because they start to trust themselves more and their ability to listen to the trees.

 Enter Diana of Cathliro

 In other countries that want to produce boutique Cacao, often Co-Operatives are set up so that the quality of the beans is managed and the quality of the fermenting and Sun drying which is crucial to the flavour profile.

In a country like the Solomon Islands with minimum infrastructure and a history of tensions, co-operatives don’t work and so Diana, who has the biggest heart and vision for the people of the Solomon’s has had a vision and is working on a way that will work for these farmers.

Strongim Bisnis have sponsored myself to mentor Diana and the last week has been very special as we enter the journey together to create a new time for Cacao for the Solomon Island people. What takes place is that the farmer does half of the work and Diana completes it with her team preparing the beans for the boutique market.

The farmer grows, prunes and harvests his pods and then cracks them open on the day Diana is coming with the truck and sells her the wet beans. The weighing takes place by the side of the truck, the invoice written and the cash handed over until two weeks time when they next visit for buying wet beans.

 Enjoy the photos of the pods on the trees, being opened, all the fruit (except for the stem), being scooped out and put into sacks ready for Diana to collect. The pods can only be cracked open on the actual day they are being collected else they will start to dry out and not have the fruit required to create the ferment. Once they are put in the sack they have to be collected that day as the fruit will start to already ferment.

 We had a lot of fun and it was the highlight of the village on a Friday evening with the truck pulling up and then the weighing and cash payment. These beautiful people are quick to humour and it doesn’t take long to have some fun together. 

The locations of these villages are stunning, by rivers, on mountain sides, ote remand the Cacao is very VERY happy. The Cacao told me directly as I connected with the trees and shared with them the work we are doing with this group of farmers and if they could continue to refine their beans it would be appreciated because our intention is to share with the world and also support these farmers in a real whilst sharing the magic of their beans. I brought with me the code of their sister trees in Peru and of fine cacao. I also shared that we are educating New Zealand and the world of the health benefits of their seeds and their time has come for their true role to manifest. Everything starting buzzing and vibrating more as the ground of the unseen connection spread through all the trees. My heart is bright and shinning out here on the farms always..

 Currently Diana is providing these five villages with trainings on how to prune better and has more trainings planned so in time they can double their income from the same trees.

 Once the beans are collected (we collected approx. 3.5 tonne in a day and a half). They are taken back to Diana’s site in Honiara.

In Honiara, the beans are packed in the fermentation boxes to ferment for 7 days.

 The beans are turned every day. There are constant juices running from the fermentation boxes, that could definitely be turned in Cacao Rum!

The beans/seeds are surrounded by beautiful tropical fruit. But all of this fruit is scooped out with the beans and used to create the ferment.

After 7 days the beans are then put out into the sun to sun dry which can take from 4-7 days and until the moisture content in the beans drops to well below 7 %.

The beans are then tested by the local government organisation for quality and are graded. All flat and small beans are removed.

The beans are stored by village so one can buy specific village beans. This is single origin, not just be country but by village. Diana if required can also ferment one farms beans and we have some of that taking place at the moment to make some amazing Tree to bar chocolate.

All the farms are naturally organic although not certified because no one sprays in the villages and its shade grown.

And in the sack its ready for you! Ready for 8 beans a day, ready for serving your health, your heart and your mind. And you can do so knowing that these farmers are being cared for, they are getting $4 SD for their wet beans and in time this will grow as the boutique market grows, their skills grow and their beans become finer and finer. This is Diana’s commitment – to help them, not only in harvesting more cacao from their trees, but in learning how to run their farms as a small business, in how to support, save for school fees and together we want to inspire them to know not only can they earn a real income from Cacao but they can be proud to be cacao famers. We want to take you to them and them to you virtually and in time physically and the gap close so the beans and chocolate you eat is 360 degrees care. Caring for you, the farmer and all in between.

 And the next step in training the farmers is showing them how to actually eat their own Cacao, of all the 200 farmers on Diana’s care – not one of them have eaten their own beans. They care for the trees and then harvest and crack open the pods, scoop out the fruit and sell it. Not once have they tasted it,. They were surprised to see me suck the fruit from the beans, which tastes amazing by the way. So we are showing them how to ferment small baskets of wet beans, sun dry and then make their own chocolate, cacao husk tea, cacao nibs and how to eat it every day.

In this way they can connect more to their crop, taste the difference of good cacao, and also the cacao bean will provide them with a full balanced diets as it its full of minerals, vitamins, iron, magnesium and it will of course make them feel happy and give them courage..

 Will share all of this so you can discover how to do it at home as well..

 Join the Cacao revolution of 8 beans a day keeps the doctor away with 360 degree care.

 And as a consumer, you have the invitation to discern where your food is coming from – is it traceable? It is close to the origin. Are there lots of layers in between you and the farmer? Its not necessary anymore – its is possible to be direct so the famers earn real incomes and you have the freshest best possible food.

We will be working on a new model with Cathliro's boutique village beans….and they will be coming to NZ soon..

Happy Cacao day cause every day is right!!

More to come...



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