The new standard for chocolate

Adriene Hill Sep 30, 2011

The new standard for chocolate

Adriene Hill Sep 30, 2011

Kai Ryssdal: You go to the store, you buy a candy bar — Three Musketeers, let’s say — and that’s your chocolate. Oh, that it were so simple.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it’s discovered hundreds of new kinds of cocoa tree — the stuff from which chocolate is made — in Peru. That could mean new chocolates, each with its own flavors, and an even newer — even more special — specialty chocolate market.

Marketplace’s Adriene Hill reports.

Adriene Hill: We’re not talking Hershey’s milk chocolate bars here, which is not to put them down — I’m a fan. But single-origin chocolates are something entirely different, in price and flavor.

Art Pollard: It has these deep rich notes of blackberry and plum and smoke and chocolate. It just just has these amazing layers of flavor that just go on and on and on.

Art Pollard is the chocolate maker for Amano Artisan Chocolate. He’s describing his $10 chocolate bar sourced from the remote Venezuelan village of Chuao. Hearing him talk about his single-origin chocolates is like listening to a wine fan go on about their favorite bottles.

Hill: Is chocolate getting snobby?

Pollard: No, I don’t think so. Fundamentally, with chocolate, anybody can appreciate it.

True enough. But some connoisseurs want to know exactly where there chocolate is coming from — and the rarer, the better.

Marcia Mogelonsky is an analyst at Mintel.

Marcia Mogelonsky: Now people are getting more educated on types of chocolate and they are developing a more refined chocolate palate. Just as we did with coffee a little while ago.

With the USDA discovery of the additional types of Peruvian cocoa, there’s more talk about establishing geographical designations for the sweets. It’s a move that could pay off for cocoa farmers and chocolate producers, and mean higher-priced gourmet chocolate bars.

Mogelonsky: It’s worked for wine, it’s worked for coffee. There’s no reason it can’t work for chocolate.

But don’t expect your vending machine candy bar standby to start touting its origins anytime soon. The high-end may be on its way up, but there’ll always be a market for plain old chocolate.

I’m Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

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