By Chelsea Kerrington
Pacari Chocolate, a unique premium “tree-to-bar” line and the first single-origin organic chocolate made entirely in Ecuador, has obtained the prestigious Demeter Biodynamic® Certification, the ultimate recognition of sustainability.
Based on the principles and holistic philosophical approach known as “anthroposophy” as outlined by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, biodynamic farming is a self-regenerating ecosystem free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Headquartered in Germany, and with a network of individual certification organizations in other countries, Demeter International is the world’s only certifier of Biodynamic® farming and products. It specifically defines a biodynamic farm as a living organism where animals, soil, crops and humans are interacting units within the complete system. A variety of sustainable farming techniques are used for maximum soil fertility and healthy crop and livestock, including composting, crop rotation, interplanting and seed saving to maintain a precise ecological balance that is minimally dependent on external inputs. Influences from the moon and other planets are also taken into account.
Not all organic farming projects are suitable to earn the Demeter seal, however. The biodynamic farming method requires a high commitment on the part of the farmer, with special sensitivity and skilled observation of the interactions taking place in nature. The ability to recognize weaknesses in the system and to strengthen the farm as a whole organism is key.
Of the 2,500 small-scale Arriba Nacional cacao growers that have partnered with Pacari founders Carla Barboto and Santiago Peralta since the brand’s inception five years ago, 200 have been practicing biodynamic farming for the past four years.
“Learning about the rhythms of nature and how to improve the health and productivity of a farm with a holistic approach has been rewarding,” said Peralta. “Biodynamic farming is a natural extension of the sustainable and fair-trade practices already upheld by Pacari,” Barboto added.
Since its launch in 2007, Pacari has experienced a warm reception and tremendous growth in the specialty foods, chocolate and organic industries across the globe. The finest ingredients are carefully selected for each Pacari line, always processed in small batches to ensure an unforgettable chocolate experience that indulges all senses. The company only uses Arriba Nacional, a cacao native to Ecuador, known for its rich taste, aroma and complex fruity and floral notes.
Currently the Pacari range of chocolate bars includes the lines Origins, Raw, Andean Flavors, Cocoa-Cacao and Covered. Three distinct cacao regions of Ecuador have been selected for the Origins regional bars: Manabi, Los Rios and Esmeraldas. A favorite of “foodies,” the Raw line is minimally processed at low temperatures (under 43 C) to ensure maximum concentration of antioxidants in the final product. The Andean Flavors highlight distinct herbs and spices: Andean Blueberry, Lemongrass, Maras Salt and Merken, all paying homage to special ingredients indigenous to Ecuador and neighboring countries Peru and Chile. The Covered line consists of cacao and coffee nibs, dried guava, goldenberriess and banana-covered with a fine layer of organic dark chocolate, providing an exquisite combination of flavour and texture. In its Cocoa-Cacao line, Pacari was perhaps the first brand to introduce the consumer to pure roasted cacao beans coated with a thin layer of fine chocolate and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate continues to grow as an internationally recognized chocolate authority appreciated by chocolate connoisseurs and consumers worldwide, exporting approximately 15 tons of chocolate a year, mainly to the United States and Europe. Through its distributors in Germany, the UK, Belgium, Australia, Canada and other key markets, Pacari is present at multiple international and local food shows and events, including the Salon du Chocolate in Paris, the Fancy Foods and Natural Expos in the USA as well as the Anuga and BioFach events in Germany. Recently, Pacari earned seven awards at the Los Angeles Chocolate Salon, claiming the first place Gold Award in the Best Dark Chocolate and Best Organic/Fair Trade Chocolate categories. One judge from the salon described Pacari as a “unique and memorable company” with “wonderfully playful, yet mature” chocolate.
The company’s initial passion for chocolate is what led them to connect with small, local producers to develop a superior organic product that supported local communities. By offering prices well above market conditions as well as a number of sustainability programs, Pacari has developed an attractive tree-to-bar chocolate line while continuing the constant research, learning and sharing that nurtures the very communities where the chocolate comes from. Obtaining the premier biodynamic certification is another indication of the success and expansion expected for this Ecuadorian brand in 2012 and the years to come.
When O.W.N. asked the couple about their next goal, Peralta, always driven to learn even more about sustainable ways of life, replied, “We may be turning all Pacari into Ecuadorian Biodynamic Chocolate.” For now, Peralta has embarked on an expedition to follow the route of Christopher Columbus when he first discovered cacao beans. At the BioFach in Germany, Pacari will be part of the prestigious Demeter pavilion in Hall 7 for the first time, and also showing at the Ecuadorian pavilion in Hall 2. Their exciting Demeter Biodynamic® certification will undoubtedly continue to propel this dynamic family-owned company to the top of the industry, while ensuring they live up to their name. In Quechua, an indigenous language of Ecuador, Pacari means “nature.”