Indian Cacao

Posted on October 05, 2015 by  Lee McCoy | 0 Comments

It's a curiosity of the 20"N and 20"S rule for where cacao we expect cacao to grow with any reasonable chance of success that many of focus on Central and South America, the Caribean, Madagascar, along with South East Asia and parts of West Africa. This over-simplification does many areas of the world a disservice. We should also include the likes of Hawai'i, Australia, some Pacific islands and ... India.

It isn't surprising, however, that we seldom mention India in terms of cocoa production as they produce so little. In 2010 fellow Academy of Chocolate member Sarah Jane Evans noted in her book Chocolate Unwrapped that India was the 13th country listed in order of cacao production by volume - behind Uganda and just ahead of Sierra Leone whilst Catherine Reddy states that India is the 19th largest producer. Currently India the total tonnage of viable production is about 1% of the leading country: Ivory Coast. and less than 0.33% of total world production. 

Here, we're less interested with volume but quality and it is interesting that the Venezuelan 'Criollo' cacao we so often revere has its place, at least in part, in the DNA of much of Indian cacao. For it was a Venezuelan cacao that first inhabited Indonesia in the 16th century (despite what C-Spot says). It wasn't until 1798 that cacao was brought to the Tamil Nadu region of southern India. Others mention Guatemala and The Philippines as possible sources of 'Indian' cacao. 

It appears that despite the collapse of British rule in India, Cadbury began production around the time of 'The Partition' and even now large multinational chocolate makers seem to lap up most of India's production with another large part being shipped over the Palk Strait to Sri Lanka. 

Today the original 'landing' of cacao in India on the shores of Tamal Nadu has been superceded by both the Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka regions - not only in terms of hectares supporting cacao production, but also in terms of yields per hectare which are significantly lower than the other regions. Also, much of the current found in India is a bastardised creation produced by Cadbury for its high productivity and resistance to disease thanks to Amazonian genotypes. Which you can find out more about watching their promotional video:

 

I've only tried Zotter's Indien which was pretty good and will order some bars from Earth Loaf and Mason Chocolate to test out. But, surely isn't it time for more chocolate makers to support local growers in India? If there is a way around the seemingly dominant position occupied by Cadbury holds when it comes to buying the crop and Mars would allgedly like to have? But seeing as cacao production is likely to double in India over the next decade there must be some room for small-scale chocolate makers from the bean sourcing from India?

If you're interested in the Indian chocolate industry follow the work of my friend over there: L Nitin Chordia.


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