TCHO 2019 Wrap Up

What a decade it’s been for TCHO!  We’ve faced many challenges in sourcing great cacao.  So we created our unique sourcing program, TCHO Source, to partner directly with cacao producers and cacao research institutions to create better cacao beans and better corresponding benefits throughout our entire supply chain.  TCHO Source includes all of our cacao sourcing and our social responsibility initiatives in one.

Investment in Great Quality

This past year, on average per metric ton of cocoa beans (MT), we paid:

  • 46.3% over market price
  • 20.6% over FTO Price in TCHO quality premiums
  • Average Market Price for Cacao*:  $2341
  • Fair Trade + Organic (FTO) Price**:  $2841
  • TCHO’s Average Price***:  $3426

    *Calculated by averaging the conventional market price for cacao from January 2019 to December 2019.
    **Calculated using the average market price for 2019 + an organic differential of $300 and a Fair Trade differential of $200.  Please note the Fair Trade differential has since increased.
    *** 2019 TCHO average FOB price for cocoa beans  
  • The Impact of This Price Differential:
    Most issues in the cacao industry stem from the low prices cacao farmers are paid for their beans.  The commodity market price for cacao often dips below the cost of production. Fair Trade and Organic premiums combined with our own quality premiums, means more money for farmers to cover their living expenses, cost of production, farm maintenance, capital investment, daycare services, doctor visits, and more…

Highlights Straight From the Source

  • The Importance of Flavor + Diversification of Risk:
    We source from many different regions to get the best flavor! Like wine and coffee, the climate, varietals, soil, and surrounding vegetation influence the flavor of the cacao.  Additionally, working with cooperatives in different regions ensures we never run out of chocolate, even if there is a shipping strike, a drought, or any one of the many challenges that affect our producer partners. 
    • Ecuador:
      We continue to roast every single Ecuadorian cacao bean we buy in Guayaquil, Ecuador at our long-time partner roasting facility.  We get a little starry-eyed over the state-of-the-art equipment and the patience and dedication of their production and quality assurance teams!  We also love how roasting at origin keeps way more money in the cacao-producing country and reduces the size, cost, and carbon footprint of our cacao shipments to our Berkeley, CA factory. 
    • Ghana:
      This past year we solidified a partnership with a wonderful cooperative in Ghana with Fair Trade and Organic certification! These beans were roasted and processed into cocoa liquor at a factory in Ghana, again keeping significantly more money at origin and our corresponding carbon footprint low.
    • Democratic Republic of Congo:
      In 2019, we added an extra layer of traceability of the cacao we source in the DRC from the farmer group or cooperative level all the way down to the farm level!
    • Madagascar:
      We continued sourcing from Bertil Akesson’s cacao farms in the Sambirano Valley.
    • Peru: 
      We’ve had the privilege of judging the annual Peruvian National Cacao Competition for the past 8 years. The samples this year were the most impressive to date and several regions had winning cacao for the first time ever!
    • Dominican Republic:
      We went to the source to learn from some of the best post-harvest processing facilities for cacao in the world and model organic cacao farms in the world.  Here we got to see first-hand the impact of strategic intercropping and regenerative agriculture and to help share the positive effects of these efforts!.
    • Haiti:
      In 2019, we continued to expand our supply chain and bought our first Haitian cacao beans ever!  These delicious, Fair Trade and Organic certified beans, come from Produits Des Îles S.A. or “PISA” in the Acul de Nord region of Haiti and are rich with flavors of cocoa powder, raspberry, and grilled plum.


What's next for TCHO Source in 2020?

  • CRIG x TCHO x Glico Quality Center:  
    Back in 2013, we partnered with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) and installed a TCHO Flavor Lab at their facility where we worked closely with a small group of tasters on extensive sensory analysis training for the evaluation of cacao. 

    Since then, the team at CRIG has been making excellent use of the lab and this skill set by making samples of delicious well-fermented cacao, as well as intentionally defective cacao, to train farmers throughout Ghana on the importance of best practices for harvest and post-harvest.  With support from the African Cocoa Initiative II program, the lab and CRIG’s role as a trainer is growing to an international reach.  CRIG has plans in 2020 to not only continue to train farmers throughout Ghana, but also key actors in the cacao sectors of Côte D’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Cameroon. 

    TCHO proudly signed an agreement with CRIG this year to further grow their facilities with a new quality center for research and training on sensory analysis of cacao and the importance of flavor!  We’re ecstatically pleased to announce that we plan to break ground in March 2020! 
  • 100% Farm-Level Traceability:
    In 2020, we are going a level deeper in our sourcing and will only be purchasing cacao with 100% farm-level traceability!


Updated 4.2.2019