In January, 2017, the organizing partners of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme announced the new 2017 Edition for cocoa producers to participate in the International Cocoa Awards, a global competition which recognizes the work of cocoa farmers and celebrating the diversity of cocoa flavors global

The Cocoa of Excellence Programme, coordinated by the university of Biodiversity International, is jointly organized with Event International in partnership with Guittard Chocolate, Seguine Cacao, Cocoa and Chocolate, Barry Callebaut, Puratos and with sponsorship from CAOBISCO, the European Cocoa Association (ECA), The Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC), Nestlé, the Lutheran World Relief (LWR), Mars UK, and with in-kind contributions from the Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (CRC/UWI), Valrhona, Weiss Chocolate and CocoaTown.

Every two years, this unique programme recognizes quality, flavour and diversity of cocoa according to their origin. By bringing together leading sensory evaluation experts, the chocolate industry and the next generation of cocoa pioneers, the Cocoa of Excellence Programme recognizes and rewards cocoa with exceptional and unique flavour attributes, while bringing know-how, cocoa evaluation tools, market opportunities and incentives for safeguarding cacao diversity to farming communities and national organizations globally.

All cocoa samples received by the 28th of February 2017 by the Cocoa of Excellence Programme are analyzed with physical evaluation of the beans and cut test. Beans samples passing these initial tests are processed into cocoa liquor and evaluated by an international panel of experts. The best 50 high-quality samples from different origins, with recognized or interesting flavour attributes, are nominated for the International Cocoa Awards and evaluated by a broader panel of professionals and sensory evaluation experts. The best 3 to 5 cocoa samples from each of the 4 producing regions are selected and receive an International Cocoa Award celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat that will take place from 28th October to 1st November 2017.

The contact information of the producers and flavour profiles of the best 50 samples, including the ICAs, is made public. All sample producers receive a detailed feedback report. The feedback is a critical part of the Cocoa of Excellence Programme, providing an opportunity to understand and improve quality at cocoa producer’s and National Organization Committee’s levels.


Based on the recommendation of the ICCO, the Produce Monitoring Board serves as the National Organizing Committee (NOC) responsible for announcing the Cocoa of Excellence programme   at National level, took up the task to monitor the sample preparation in the four cocoa producing districts of Bo, Kailahun, Kenema and Kono in the South-east. The activities were well coordinated based on good farm practices that ensure good quality of cocoa beans. The activities were carried out as prescribed in the checklist submitted by the Committee for cocoa of excellence.

  • Awards & global recognition: the best 50 cocoa samples of exceptional quality and with promising market prospects and unique flavours are selected, processed into chocolate and nominated for the International Cocoa Awards. Between 3 to 5 cocoa producers from each of the 4 regions receive an International Cocoa Award.
  • Individual feedback and recommendations: All cocoa samples are evaluated by an international panel of experts and sample providers receive a detailed individual feedback, including a quality and flavour analysis and recommended innovations and improved practices. This feedback provides an opportunity for farmers to improve some practices and increase their capacity to produce high-quality cocoa and navigate on the premium cocoa market.
  • Marketing opportunities: the Cocoa of Excellence Programme and the International Cocoa Awards provides a platform for cocoa producers to meet representatives from the cocoa and chocolate industry. Contact information for the 50 nominated samples are published and shared with the industry through the Cocoa of Excellence Promising samples are displayed and promoted at the Salon du Chocolat celebrations and similar cocoa and chocolate events as well as distributed to interested chocolate makers.

OUTCOMES/RESULTS: Selection of best 50 samples

The cocoa of excellence is pleased to inform you that the sample sl005 produced by Sahr Bangura- associated to Kasiyatama has been selected as part of the best 50 samples from a total of 166 samples received from 40 countries for the 2017 edition.

The sensory evaluation of the 166 samples (as liquor and untampered chocolate) was done during May, June and July by the Cocoa of Excellence programme Technical Committee. The selection of the 50 best samples was the result of the statistical analysis of the data.

Sahr Bangura Cocoa Farmer from Fiama Chiefdom, Kono District associated to Kasiyatama Farmers Cooperative


The best 50 samples are now being processed into chocolate and the next step will be the sensory evaluation by a large panel of 40 experts during the month of September. The selection of the 12-15 International Cocoa Awards (ICA) will therefore be made by mid-October. All 50 chocolate samples will be celebrated at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris (28th October to 1st November, 2017) where the Cocoa of Excellence programme will have a stand. The International Cocoa Awards (ICA) ceremony will take place on Monday 30th October in the evening. The National organizing Committee and all sample providers particularly the selected ones among the 50 best are encourage to participate in the celebration.


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