When you think of some of the world’s notable cocoa producers, countries like Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador and Cote D’Ivoire may come to mind. But another nation is looking to join the heavyweights, Venezuela. Chocolate makers there believe not only can they catch up – they can dominate the market and help the country’s ailing economy. CGTN’s Maria Galang tells us more.
Sea salt and fruit from the rain forest. Just some of the ingredients that can be found in Venezuelan chocolate. They’re a hit at specialty chocolate shops, from Britain to the U.S. to Central America.
Caracas resident Nancy Silva runs her chocolate making business out of her apartment. Her bars are mostly destined for local shops.
Venezuela is in the midst of an economic crisis, and buyers of luxury goods have dwindled. Silva is convinced, though, that her chocolate will find an international audience.
“I’ve been to Paris three times with my suitcase, without even knowing French,” Silva said. “But if you know your product, and you know who can buy it. Well, I managed to sell two suitcases in a month.”
Venezuela used to be the world’s leading cocoa producer- back in the 18th century. Since then, countries like Cote d’Ivoire have earned the title. Still, Venezuela has a rich history of cocoa. Indeed, as rich as its chocolate.
“With the quality of the grains, variety, yield, production, I would say we are in the presence of the best cocoa in the world,” cocoa farmer Yoffre Echarri said.
Venezuela might be better known for its oil. But Nancy believes there’s an appetite for another precious commodity.
“We think that our real Venezuelan oil is this, cocoa,” Silva said. “We aren’t very strong when it comes to production. But the quality, is our strength, the aroma, the hint of nuts.”
From bean to bar. Nancy is ready to deliver. She has her suitcase full of treats. And a drive to put Venezuelan artisinal chocolate back on the global stage.