Cocoa and Chocolate in Brazil – Production and Consumption
Brazil is known in the world for many specialties, including cocoa, coffee, and chocolate. Thanks to the numerous cocoa plants and high production, Brazil has created many cocoa and chocolate brands and produces delicious chocolate for consumers. About 50 cocoa beans are needed for a 100-gram bar of chocolate. But before the cocoa flower becomes the cocoa fruit and finally the beans become delicious chocolate, many steps are required. If you want to expand your knowledge of chocolate in Brazil, especially before a trip to Brazil highly recommended, then read on.
From the blossom to cocoa
It all starts with a small flower that sprouts directly on the trunk of a cocoa tree and blooms for only a short time, often just a few hours. It is only during this window of time that it can be pollinated so that the fruit can develop. Pollination is carried out either by mosquitoes up to three millimeters in size or, in most cases, by the cocoa farmers who pollinate the flowers by hand with the help of a brush. The stately cocoa fruit grows from the pollinated flower in about six months. At the same time, the next flowers appear on the trunk. The ripe fruits are finally removed from the cocoa stem with a deliberate, clean cut.
The oval cocoa fruits, which weigh about 500 grams, contain about 50 seeds embedded in the white, juicy, sweet and fresh-tasting flesh. They are usually removed by hand from the broken cocoa fruit. The fresh seeds are cream-colored with a purple or reddish tinge. Seeds and pulp form a single unit in the cocoa fruit, the pulp.
The transformation from seed to cocoa bean takes place after harvest, during fermentation. It is also the first and most important step in the formation of the typical chocolate flavor, because until then cocoa still tastes very bitter. During fermentation, the pulp ferments either traditionally covered with banana leaves or in flat wooden boxes for up to seven days. During this process, the sugary pulp breaks down and separates from the seeds. The seeds lose their ability to germinate as a result of the fermentation process. In this way, the later cocoa bean becomes storable. Through fermentation, the seed now officially becomes a cocoa bean. It has broken down bitter substances and the color is darker. However, the bean still smells a little sour. The beans are then laid out to dry, which is strenuous manual labor, as the beans must be turned by hand at regular intervals to achieve as uniform a degree of dryness as possible, with 5 to 7 percent residual moisture. This process is like a diet for the bean, which now weighs only about 1 gram but contains over 300 individual substances, including the valuable polyphenols and flavonoids.
From cocoa to chocolate
During the roasting process, up to 400 different flavors are formed. This means that the roasting process has a direct influence on the later chocolate product and the duration and temperature are determined according to the desired end product. Particularly high-quality cocoa varieties, for example, are roasted for a shorter time and at lower temperatures to preserve their individual flavor profile. After roasting, the beans are broken up. What remains are the cocoa nibs, also called nibs. The nibs smell intensely of chocolate. This is the end of the cocoa bean and the beginning of the chocolate.
The nibs are now finely ground, which releases the cocoa butter. The frictional heat generated during grinding melts the precious cocoa butter, and the golden cocoa butter is squeezed out. The cocoa cake, a low-fat cocoa block, remains. Rolling and adding other ingredients such as cocoa butter creates the liquid chocolate. This is then processed into delicious chocolates, crunchy bars, or figurines such as Easter bunnies or Santa Clauses. A 100-gram bar contains about 50 beans.
Cocoa is an important component of Brazilian agriculture. In the early 1980s, Brazil produced about 430,000 tons of cocoa beans. Today, however, the amount has dwindled to less than 200,000 tons per year. This decline in production began in the late 1980s when prices fell and the spread of witches' broom disease, a fungal disease, plunged the industry into crisis. As a result, Brazil slipped from second place in the world's ranking of cocoa producers in the early 1980s to seventh. Chocolate production in Brazil, the world's fifth-largest market for the product, increased though 11.43 percent in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year.
The chocolate industry in Latin America's largest economy produced 370,000 tons of the product from January to June 2022, compared to 332,000 tons in the first half of 2021. According to the National Association of Cocoa Processing Industries, Brazil exported 33,521 thousand tons of chocolate and 54,756 thousand tons of cocoa derivatives last year, generating revenues of 245 million US dollars. The main destination country for Brazilian chocolate is Argentina, followed by the United States and Chile.
Dark chocolate and quality gain influence
Consumers in Brazil are becoming more discerning and are increasingly looking for premium chocolate products that are different from traditional retail brands. According to the Brazilian Chocolate Industry Association, more than 75 percent of the Brazilian population consumes chocolate and 35 percent of the Brazilian population prefers chocolate to other foods. The focus on quality is shifting consumption more toward premium chocolate, which automatically increases consumption of dark chocolate. This is true for Brazilian chocolate brands as well as foreign brands. According to the National Association of Cocoa Processing Industries, 88 percent of consumers buy premium chocolate for personal use. With 2.2 kilograms of chocolate per person per year, chocolate is the most consumed food in Brazil. Famous and typical chocolate brands in Brazil are Cuore di Cacao, Dengo Chocolates, and Garoto Chocolates.
The sweetness of chocolate
Cocoa and chocolate have a great impact on the economy and the population in Brazil. It is simply impossible to resist this sweet temptation! If you enjoy a Brazilian chocolate during your Brazil vacation, feel free to think about the wonderful manufacturing process...
Sources: agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br, www.mordorintelligence.com, www.schokoinfo.de