Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Panama at 12th Edition of Chocoa

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For the First Time, Panama Participated in the 12th Edition of Chocoa 2024, together with Six Cocoa and Specialty Chocolate Producers, Traders and Processors.

Amsterdam, February 2024 – In 2024, Chocoa stood out as one of the events of Amsterdam Cocoa Week, where high-profile initiatives such as the annual meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) Partnership and the prestigious Cacao of Excellence award ceremonies took center stage, consolidating Amsterdam as the epicentre of the cocoa sector. With the attendance of 2,500 professionals including cocoa producers, machinery manufacturers, processors and chocolatiers and more than 7,000 consumers, the Authority for Investment Attraction and Export Promotion (PROPANAMA), in conjunction with six Panamanian companies, participated in the trade exhibition for the cocoa sector in order to highlight the high quality of Panamanian cocoa and the diversity of the exportable supply with its value-added products.

Johanna Landman, in a stunning national Panamenian dress, Pollera de Gala, and H.E. Ms. Elizabeth Ward Neiman, Ambassador of Panama with Yesilca Caballero of PROPANAMA and chocolate company representatives.

These renowned Panamanian chocolate companies, leaders in the creation of authentic cocoa delicacies, joined forces in Amsterdam to bring the quality and diversity of national products to the highest level. Among them are: Oro Moreno, Chocolates Bocao, Forest Finance Panama S.A., Kokoa del Istmo, Kotowa Chocolates Victoria and the unique Cooperative of Multiple Services Cacao Bocatoreña, R.L.

PROPANAMA’s head of exports, Yelsica H. Caballero, emphasized that this type of participation increases exports in value, volume and quality through trade promotion and the development of export markets by opening new market niches and strengthening trade relations.

Textually Caballero said: “The main objective of PROPANAMA is to make known to the international community the high quality of cocoa through the tasting of the cocoa powder, chocolate bars, and cocoa liquor as well as introduce the products available to multiple consumers. In addition to the presence of 6 brands, the authority promotes other companies that have the items in the country through the use of a bar code. The intention is to open markets and connect so that companies can have different types of buyers and international connections, educate, update and train through the extensive program of alternative events offered by the fair. Value-added products such as cocoa liquor are also promoted, and the intention is to diversify”.

Panamanian chocolates.

Caballero also stressed that “this project not only promotes companies that comply with the international certifications required by the European Union.  Locally, we are strengthening positive actions and support to the cocoa sector, such as the report of the cocoa value chain, with strategic allies such as FAO.  In addition, through national partners such as MIDA and MICI, we are developing training programs and strengthening actions to position the sector in international markets. That is why several of these companies in situ have certifications. For example, the cooperative represented here, with more than 70 years of existence and more than 1419 members, are cocoa producers and they comply with this certification. In addition, we have Forest Finance, which has the organic green bean. We are diversifying because we are also promoting companies that transform the product.  In addition to cocoa liquor, we have natural organic bars such as those of Victoria Chocolate”.

During CHOCOA 2024, Panamanian companies dedicated part of their efforts to captivate visitors through customized stands, each one representing the unique identity of the brand. The inauguration of the stand was attended by the Panamanian Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Ms. Elizabeth Ward, who pledged to continue supporting this initiative. The diplomatic authority commented: “as the Panamanian Embassy in the Netherlands we will do everything necessary as follow-up to this tour to further demonstrate that the cocoa from Panama and the cocoa products have an extraordinary quality.  We will coordinate meetings with the companies that are interested in the products exhibited.  It is a great honor to be here accompanying the Panamanian companies”.

Jaime Perez from Bocao also commented on his expectations for this fair: “Panamanian cocoa stands out for its floral notes.  Our roasting focuses on highlighting the natural caramelized flavors of cocoa. We work with cocoa from the Bocas del Toro area and we want, as has happened with coffee, for the fermentation processes to give a greater added value to Panamanian cocoa. For Chocoa 2024 we brought our single origin bars, chocolate covered coffee and cashew nuts because we also want to help rescue this local fruit”.

Regarding the allies he would like to find in Chocoa, he said: “We would like to get a distributor who can introduce our products to stores in Holland and the rest of Europe. We would also like to find chocolate enthusiasts to try our chocolate because Panama is a novelty in the world of fine chocolate”.

Manuel Palacios Quintero of the Bocatoreña Cocoa Cooperative said: “We are dedicated to exporting the cocoa produced for over 70 years by our cooperative with more than a thousand members. We have been complying with European organic cocoa standards for many years.  It is a native cocoa from the Bocas del Toro region in Almirante, ideal for those who are looking for beans cultivated by native indigenous peoples such as the Ngobe- Buglé”.

Panama at CHOCOA 2024

Yoshiris Peña, director of the company Oro Moreno said: “This year, for the first time, Panama participates in this fair.  Therefore, we have brought our collection of iconic chocolates such as coriander, passion fruit, and pineapple.  We also have the collection of designs with our fauna, the golden frogs. We do the “Bean to bar” process and our raw material is 100% Panamanian. Our chocolates do not contain preservatives, they are filled with fruits and our most iconic chocolates are with coriander, also the Panamanian pineapple, cashew seeds and lemon that are really delicious. For us, it is not only about making chocolate but also about representing the biodiversity of Panama.  That is why we produce the “golden frog”, in danger of extinction”. Regarding her expectations with this fair Peña said: “I would love to meet many people interested in our products and for them to taste our chocolates.  I would also like to taste and learn from other chocolatiers”.

The diversity was evidenced by the presence of both consolidated export companies and those seeking to expand, highlighting the richness of Panamanian chocolate.

Jan Fockele, from Forest Finance, presented the award-winning fine organic cocoa produced in the Bocas del Toro region. Nearly 30 years ago, the company began reforesting biodiverse mixed forests in the regions of Chiriquí, Veraguas and Darien. This activity was expanded with the reforestation of a 180-hectare cocoa agroforestry project. Now that the project is becoming increasingly productive, they are looking to attract international customers for the cocoa produced in this area, already awarded the bronze “Cacao of Excellence” in 2021. Jan Fockele was satisfied with the meetings held: “There is great interest in this extraordinary cacao and we have been able to inspire many chocolate producers to bet on this bean”.

Also, the Panamanian delegation disclosed tools to boost the promotion of Panamanian chocolate on its way to export through the correct classification of the sector.  The work agenda included strategic meetings with associations, allies, experts in innovative processes and trainers of trends in cocoa and chocolate, thus seeking to strengthen the international impact of the participating companies, bring international cooperation and strengthening the sector.

Panama’s participation in Chocoa 2024 reflected the country’s firm commitment to excellence in cocoa and chocolate production. Beyond the global showcase offered by the event, this incursion highlighted Panama’s determination in the constant search for business opportunities and strategic alliances at the international level. In short, Chocoa 2024 became a unique scenario to showcase the quality and diversity of Panamanian chocolate products on the world stage.

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