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The Conexión Cocoa and Chocolate Summit 2024

The Conexión Cocoa and Chocolate Summit 2024

The Conexión Cocoa and Chocolate Summit was a vibrant event filled with insightful discussions, expert panels, and engaging activities, bringing together experts and enthusiasts from around the world to share knowledge and celebrate the art and science of cocoa and chocolate.

The summit began with a warm welcome and opening remarks from distinguished guests, including key figures from the Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. Jenny Samaniego from Conexión, Johanna Renckens from Rikolto - CREA, and Felipe Romero, Dean of the School of Gastronomy at UDLA, also addressed the attendees, setting the stage for the event.

One of the first major discussions revolved around the Green Pact and its implications for the cocoa and chocolate sector. Moderated by Christian Marlin, the panel featured experts like Christophe De Vroey, Ragna John, Paula Rueda, Carlos Pozo, and Rommel Betancourt. They delved into the consequences and future outlook for the industry under the Green Pact.

Following this, a panel on positioning Ecuadorian cocoa in light of global trends took place. Moderated by Johanna Renckens, this discussion included insights from Esteban del Hierro, Verónica Velandia, Merlyn Casanova, Juan Touma, and Freddy Cabello. They explored the impact of the World Cocoa Conference and other global trends on Ecuadorian cocoa.

A chocolate networking break provided attendees with an opportunity to enjoy some chocolate and connect with fellow participants. This was followed by a session on the current prices of cocoa and chocolate, moderated by Jenny Samaniego, where panelists like Pablo Valdivieso, Santiago Peralta, Lidia Zambrano, Francisco Miranda, and Roy Fraatz Lopez discussed the challenges and opportunities in the current global context.

The summit continued with a discussion on the challenges of deforestation-free cocoa regulation, moderated by Claudio Marconi. Panelists Diana Armendáriz, Franz Ríos, Rita Cedeño, Andrés Naula, Katherine De La Torre, Nelson Yépez, and Lenin Robayo shared their insights on the EU regulations and their impact on the cocoa value chain.

Highlighting the quality of Ecuadorian cocoa, a special session recognized the achievements of Ecuadorian cocoa in the Cocoa of Excellence. Presenters Ney Barrionuevo and Mario Remache honored winners like Lidia Zambrano, Freddy Salazar, and Juan Touma. A master tasting session led by Lady Paredes and Javier Meza followed, offering a sensory experience of high-quality cocoa.

The day concluded with closing remarks from Charls Michel Geurts, the EU Ambassador, and the summit organizers from Rikolto and Conexión. A chocolate tasting, meet and greet, and networking session rounded off the day, providing a delightful end to an enriching event.

On the second day, the summit offered a series of master classes exploring various aspects of cocoa and chocolate. Attendees participated in hands-on sessions on chocolate formulation and techniques, creating signature bars and bonbons, restaurant desserts, and trends in cocoa derivatives, led by experts like Javier Lasluisa, Estefania Monge, Santiago Cueva, and Nicolás Rodríguez.

Another series of master classes focused on the transformation of cocoa into sweet and savory delights. Participants learned about applying Cocoa of Excellence standards, using cocoa in savory dishes, showcase desserts, and incorporating chocolate into ice cream, with guidance from presenters such as Lady Paredes, Javier Meza, Jorge Guadalupe, Cristina Cerón, and Gabriel Mena.

The third master class series delved into the journey from forest to chocolate, covering topics like agroforestry, genetics, cocoa bean quality evaluation, and sensory evaluation of chocolate. Experts Lenin Robayo, Diego Saquicela, Andrés Proaño, and Mario Remache shared their knowledge and expertise in these areas.

The summit concluded with final remarks from the organizing committee, highlighting the key points from the event and expressing gratitude to all attendees. The Conexión Cocoa and Chocolate Summit was an enriching experience that successfully fostered a community of culinary enthusiasts and professionals, all passionate about the future of cocoa and chocolate. Stay tuned for more exciting events and initiatives from Conexión!

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