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FCIA announces Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative

From the press release:

The best tasting chocolates in the world are poised for extinction. As growers continue to remove or replace fine flavor cacao trees with less flavorful, high-yield, disease-resistant cacao hybrids and clones, a world of ordinary flavor dominates the chocolate universe. Connecting genetics to flavor offers an important new way to protect and preserve the finest flavors for future generations. Alas, no genetic initiative has ever focused on flavor first. Until now.

Enter the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative, a partnership between the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) to create the first-ever genotype map with a focus on flavor cacao trees.

The HCP welcomes any beans to be submitted and evaluated for their flavor, but not every bean will be identified as “heirloom.” “First of all, it has got to taste good,” says Dan Pearson, chief executive officer of Marañón Chocolate and FCIA board member, who helped develop the HCP. “Can taste be objective like genetics? No. But genetics alone say nothing about flavor. Strong genetic origin may have the potential to yield the best flavor, but genetic identification itself simply reveals what a bean is, not whether it is really yummy. That’s about classification. That’s the second step. If it doesn’t taste good, we are not going to proceed with the genetics.”

In other words, flavor comes first, which is why the FCIA chose the word “heirloom” and its basic Webster’s definition—“a cultivar of a vegetable or fruit that is open-pollinated and is not grown widely for commercial purposes [and] often exhibits a distinctive characteristic such as superior flavor or unusual coloration”—to frame the HCP.

To read the entire press release click the following link: the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative.

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