At the last Fi Europe Excellence Awards in 2011, Barry Callebaut won the Confectionery Innovation of the Year Excellence Award. On top of that, Terra Cacao chocolate was selected as the Most Innovative Food Ingredient. Winning this award made it possible for us to showcase the degree to which innovation is at the core of […]
At the last Fi Europe Excellence Awards in 2011, Barry Callebaut won the Confectionery Innovation of the Year Excellence Award. On top of that, Terra Cacao chocolate was selected as the Most Innovative Food Ingredient.
Winning this award made it possible for us to showcase the degree to which innovation is at the core of our company. At Barry Callebaut, we are indeed always searching for new ways to improve our chocolate production in a sustainable way.
Terra Cacao is the brainchild of my colleague Nicholas Camu, who was fermentation innovation manager at Barry Callebaut at that time. In order to respond to the ever-increasing demand for high quality chocolate, our former CEO Patrick De Maeseneire assigned Nicholas Camu the task of researching the ways in which the fermentation process used with the cocoa beans impacts the quality of the chocolate. This initiative was subsequently supported by our current CEO, Juergen Steinemann.
Years of research yielded high quality chocolate
To be able to conduct the necessary research for his doctorate, Nicholas moved to Ghana and lived with local farmers for four years. He accompanied them in the field during each step of the process, while paying attention to every little detail.
His research resulted in our Terra Cacao innovation: a 100% natural fermentation process that produces cocoa with virtually zero defects or off flavours. After the cocoa is fermented, the beans are roasted in their shells until they release all of their inherent flavours. Finally, the chocolate is conched, fully preserving the right texture, aroma, taste and flavours.
Terra Cacao: a product sustainable in every way
The improvements made by our research team not only resulted in a premium quality chocolate, they also delivered a product that is sustainable in every way imaginable. Thanks to the improved fermentation process, our local farmers produce cocoa that shows zero defects. Therefore, they are able to get 100% revenues on their quantity. For these top quality beans, we pay the farmers an extra sum on top of the already fair price they get for the beans.
It is heart-warming to see how the farmers with whom we work can barely contain their pride in having delivered this level of quality cocoa. For years, the quality of the cocoa had been decreasing; to have been able to finally reverse this trend in such a sudden way has seen them relieved beyond words.
Introducing the QPP program in Cameroon and Java
After finalising research into the fermentation process, Nicholas Camu and his team searched for plantations on flavour-enhancing terroirs in equatorial regions where the farmers nurse their premium cocoa trees. They selected cocoa varieties in countries or regions that have a unique character, such as Cameroonian or Javanese cocoa. There, they implemented our Quality Partner Program. Barry Callebaut now introduces all the local farmers to its innovative fermentation process. By adopting the program, the cocoa farmers produce more and better-quality beans and are able to improve their livelihoods and those of their families.
Highlighting our sustainability story thanks to the Fi award
When winning the Fi award, the judges explained they had chosen Terra Cacao as most innovative product because of the fact that we were able to produce a kind of chocolate that is not only a product that everyone loves, but also a product that takes care of everyone in the food chain.
The Fi award certainly helped Terra Cacao to become the best innovation that Barry Callebaut has ever achieved.
By combining the sustainability story, we were able to intensively increase our volumes. We realised that clients and consumer aren’t only interested in the quality of the chocolate, but also in the sustainability story behind the product. We decided to highlight the positive impact of the Terra Cacao fermentation process on our local farmers in communicating about the product – for example, by adding a new section to the website where we highlighted the sustainability project.
On top of that, the Terra Cacao innovation enjoyed even more credibility thanks to the award. This in part is due to the fact that the jury consists of specialists, among whom even our competitors can be found. Moreover, our confidence was boosted by competitors who passed by our booth to congratulate us. They told us we had more than deserved the award with this giant leap forward in terms of quality and sustainability.