During May 18-21 Quito was host of the 3rd edition of the Salon de Chocolate in Ecuador. The event aimed to increase consumer awareness of the nutritional value of cacao and the high quality chocolate produced with Ecuadorian beans locally and abroad. The Salon offers a stage where creativity, design and fashion meet chocolate in all shapes and flavours. It is an activity that allows chocolate manufacturers, promoters, researchers and consumers share the latest trends and flavours.

Started in 1994 by Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet and sponsored by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an annual event in Paris, the Salon du Chocolat is also hosted in New York, Moscow, Tokyo and other cities. Only recently it has been an activity celebrated in cacao producing countries Ecuador and Peru. Initiatives like the Salon de Chocolate contribute to the Ecuadorian government’s new policy to also support non –traditional exports from small to medium sized enterprises with a high quality offer suitable for the international market. The new Institute for the Promotion of Trade and Investment-PRO Ecuador established by President Rafael Correa aims to increase the presence of Ecuadorian firms at major fairs for organic, ethnic, natural and fair trade products.

Besides traditional banana and shrimp exports, several small and medium sized Ecuadorian enterprises have found their niche in the high-end gourmet foods: ESCoffee with specialty coffees, TerraFertil with fresh and dried fruits, Kiwa and Samai quality vegetable chips, Motuche’s jams and sauces, energy bars and soups made with quinoa and other Andean grains by Fundamyf. Chocolate is an important high quality food that has positioned Ecuadorian firms among the best in the world. Pacari, one of the leading organic and raw chocolate brands produced from tree to bar, in Ecuador with exports to Europe, North America and Australia, makes part of the new wave of entrepreneurship seen now in Ecuador. Firms run with commitment to develop a great product within the guidelines of sustainability. “Most people do not know where chocolate comes from or how it is produced,” said Carla Barboto of Pacari Chocolate. “The Salon de Chocolate allows a face to face encounter with the consumer, increasing environmental and social awareness and an opportunity to show, especially the younger ones, the difference between a standard chocolate and one with high content of cocoa and only natural ingredients”. Ecuador produces 70 percent of the fine Arriba National cacao bean, highly appreciated for its floral and mild flavour by the best chocolate experts.