Hello everyone: I've been doing research into Samoan chocolate. Twenty years ago it had one of the best reputations in the world with most of its crop being classified as "fine and flavour" (top ICCO category). Today, despite having 5000 acres of fine cocoa, Samoa has only a (very strong) domestic market and a (very small) export to New Zealand (Samoans). I'm working on a plan to revive Samoa's chocolate industry with a group of NGOs and private sector. One of the things I'm researching is what led to Samoa's decline. I've come up with the following narrative, and I'd appreciate if anyone can add or change anything to it. Kind regards, Howard Frederick Mamor Chocolates in Melbourne Australia
 Euan Fleming and Anita Blowes, “Export Performance in South Pacific Countries Marginally Endowed with Natural Resources: Samoa and Tonga, 1960 to 1999, University of New England, Graduate School of Agricultural and Resource Economics & School of Economics, No. 2003-8 – August 2003, Working Paper Series in Agricultural and Resource Economics. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/12942/1/wp030008.pdf
Do you know what fine flavor varieties were planted on the island prior to their being replaced by the Amelonado strains you mention?
Yes, they were Criollo and Trinitario. And there is still heaps of Trinitario. What is you opinion of Amelonado? I know it is more disease-resistant, but disease resistance can be greatly aided by proper "sanitary pruning" See e.g. http://aciar.gov.au/system/files/node/9136/MN131%20full%20text.pdf What would one recommend in terms of over time replacing the Amelonado with Trinitario? Regards.
Here's something else we're trying to figure out . . .
In its heyday, Samoan cocoa enjoyed a high reputation in the world of chocolate making because of reputedly having the highest level of cocoa butter in the world. Why would that be?
Samoa’s fine chocolate quality may be due to the unique soil composition of Samoa’s cocoa growing areas. On the northwest rain-shadowed coast of both islands (see attachment), trees seemingly grow out of rocks. Soil is buried deeply in the fissures. Almost no mechanization is possible, even walking is difficult. Land is very difficult to clear, however, once established, cocoa trees on the lava flow thrive on the weed-free environment, where their own leaves cover the earth.
According to studies, Samoan soils are unbalanced in respect to nutrients; calcium is too high or potassium is too low for “optimal” crop yields. Potassium-deficient plants are more susceptible to certain diseases. Potassium-rich treatments could include seaweed or compost rich in decayed banana peels. Wood ash has high potassium content, but should be composted first as it is in a highly soluble form. It is possible that potassium deficiency has led the plant to exude a higher than usual cocoa fat content.
Very interesting read, thanks for posting.
wonderful flavor of criollo variety is what I remember from the early 70's. The islands was littered with cacao plants, every village had tree's as tall as 12 feet. Conditions are great to regrowth of this variety and find your research helpful.
I was approached 2 years ago by a man who said he was representing some cocoa farmers in Samoa. He talked a long talk and was slicker than seal fat. Long story short it was a scam. Now the good people at the farm in Samoa were nice enough but the man who was representing them and was supposedly setting up the NGO was a con artist who had bilked other industries in Samoa out of money. I have his name and a long list of lawsuits filed against him if interested.
The beans he sent me were either completely moldy or not fermented at all.
I live in Samoa and dabble in development work here. (started as a Peac Corps Volunteer, looking to start my own NGO one of these days.) Also a (very) amatuer chocoloate maker. I'd like to know this guy's name if you don't mind sharing, so I can steer clear.