Consumers increasingly want to know how and where their food is produced. This is especially true for chocolate. Organic or fair trade chocolate is increasingly preferred. The soil from which the processed cocoa beans come can also add value to the product.
Valentina Acierno of Wageningen University & Research researched the tracing of the origin of cocoa beans in chocolate and will obtained her PhD on May 15, 2020. In her thesis 'Following cocoa beans to chocolate: The search for intrinsic characteristics', it is stated that geographic and botanical characteristics of the cocoa bean are carried along the entire production chain and can be found in the end product.
Specific characteristics of cocoa bean
The researcher used all sorts of different substances that are present in cocoa beans to find out whether they were ultimately measurable in chocolate. She analyzed the substances with complex analytical techniques and it was thus possible to find specific characteristics of the type of cocoa bean in the chocolate. For example, whether the Criollo beans, the queen among the cocoa beans or another kind were used. It was also possible to determine characteristics of the geographical origin of the cocoa beans in the chocolate. So whether beans came from South America, Asia or Africa. The research provides the scientific basis for the link between cocoa bean and chocolate.
It is not yet possible to demonstrate "single origin" chocolate, but by collecting even more specific characteristics of cocoa beans, it will be possible in the future.