This exclusive Big Interview sees Carla Martin, Founder and Executive Director at Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute discusses the organisations growth and more.
What is the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute (FCCI) mission?
FCCI focuses on reducing inequality and information asymmetry in the cacao and chocolate value chain, especially in relation to ethics and quality. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing the understanding of cacao and chocolate through rigorous research, education, and knowledge-sharing, with emphasis on supporting professionals based in cacao producing countries. The results of FCCI projects are disseminated globally at events, through publications, and in education programs.
What is the background and history of the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute?
The Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute began operations at Harvard University in 2016, after its founding by me and our initial board made up of academics, experts from cacao and chocolate and related industries such as coffee and business strategists. At the beginning, we focused on providing accessible training on cacao quality, global market strategy and ethics debates; and communicating key elements of academic research for industry members and consumers through events, workshops and media. Our team has provided training to over 1,000 individuals and organisations around the world (over half of those trained are cacao producers who have attended our programs tuition free and with translation in their native language), work that has supported adoption of industry standard cocoa quality-grading techniques in 50 countries. In addition, we have provided expert content in hundreds of events and workshops in over two dozen cacao- and chocolate-producing countries, in collaboration with many partnering organisations.
How has the FCCI grown in recent years?
Since 2018, we have expanded our work to include our signature international academic-industry bridge event, The Chocolate Conservatory, where, in the style of a think tank conference, we bring together key thinkers to contemplate solutions to wicked problems. We have also spearheaded partnerships to develop project-based research, transparency and impact work, such as our research on the size of the specialty cacao-chocolate market; the impact of Covid-19 to cacao, chocolate and confectionery businesses and professionals; understanding the global cocoa market with USDA, IESC and Gaia Cacao; and developing critical research methods for transparency and impact reporting with cacao and chocolate companies that aim to advance their sustainability and ethics goals. Our research is widely cited and informs policy and decision-making in the public and private sectors worldwide. Finally, we are proud of our research fellowship program, which identifies emerging scholars from cacao producing nations and sponsors their original, multilingual, public scholarship. This program has so far supported two talented young professionals from Mexico and Colombia to specialise in the study of cacao and chocolate in their countries.
Read more of this article in our latest edition here: March 2022 Single Issue form – International Confectionery Magazine (in-confectionery.com)