What price chocolate? was the theme of the AoC’s conference at The Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall, London on Thursday 16th October hosted by broadcaster and journalist Simon Parkes.


Bertil Akesson (Akesson’s); Kora Bernabe (Martinique); Chris Brennan (Pump Street Bakery); Chantal Coady OBE (Rococo); Pierre Courtemanche (GeoTraceability); Robin Dand (International Cocoa Consultant); Marc Demarquette; Sarah Jane Evans MW; Clay Gordon (USA); (Barry Callebaut); Frank Homann (Xoco); Riccardo Illy (Group Illy); Barry Johnson (Rococo); Philipp Kauffmann (Original Beans); Bill Keeling (Prestat); Tony Lass MBE (Global Expert); Clive Martyr; Marie-Pierre Moine; Borjana Pervan, (International Cocoa Initiative); Shelly Preston (Boutique Aromatique); Christopher Reeves; Amelia Rope; Craig Sams; Sara Jayne Stanes OBE; Luned Tonderai (Panorama), Cecilia Tessieri (Amedei); Angus Thirlwell (Hotel Chocolat); Richard Turner (Mood Foods); Simon Wright; Paul a Young and other experts from the world of cacao and chocolate pooled their thoughts on everything that contributes to the price we pay – or should be paying – for chocolate. Topics discussed included cacao as a commodity, sustainability, ethical issues, cacao genetics, geo traceability and just what goes into the production of chocolate from the tree to the bar. As ever with the AoC, there were plenty of opportunities to meet producers and artisan chocolatiers, and to taste state- of- the-art chocolate creations.

“The wide range of topics under scrutiny during the Conference meant that all our delegates engaged in constructive and lively discussions – certainly plenty for the AoC to think about! I believe that the Conference provided a galvanising impact on the delegates and proved another hugely valuable opportunity for some serious networking by a diverse industry. It was particularly reassuring to discover how much has been done already to alleviate many of the issues created by child labour across Africa by the International Cocoa Institute. Likewise it was of great interest to hear from a number of bean to bar producers just how many ways there are of producing a chocolate bar. The hidden costs of training, marketing and packaging were discussed at length with surprising revelations,” said Academy of Chocolate Chairman Sara Jayne Stanes. “In the end, the Conference agreed that fine chocolate (as opposed to chocolate confectionery) is too cheap and that the cocoa farmers should be paid more. But would the market bear it?”

Note: A bar of chocolate has been estimated at: Cocoa growers share 6% ; Shipment of beans to Europe and North America 4%; manufacture and processing of liquor, cocoa butter and couverture 14%; packaging, marketing and distribution of product 71%; taxes 5%.

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