Is War on Drugs Bad for Chocolate?

Gourmands fight for native Peruvian cocoa
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 26, 2012 9:06 AM CDT
Some are pushing for more native Peruvian cocoa.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – To cut down on production of the coca plants behind cocaine, the US has pushed an alternative crop to Peruvian farmers: a high-yielding cocoa hybrid. And while CCN-51 has had commercial benefits, there's one problem, chocolate experts say—it just doesn't taste that good. Instead, these connoisseurs say, Peru should focus on producing its delectable native cocoa, which yields smaller crops but sells for higher prices: Some European chocolatiers are willing to spend $4,000 per metric ton of native white cocoa, compared to $2,300 for CCN-51.

"I don't understand why USAID"—the Agency for International Development—"is here, in a country so rich in diversity, where everything is virgin. What need is there to introduce new varieties?" asks a chocolatier who uses Peruvian cocoa. Cocoa from Peru's northwest is considered less acidic than CCN-51, instead tasting "earthy" and "nutty," Reuters reports. But even if fine dining isn't its priority, USAID says it's on board with the push for native cocoa: It's launching a contest to promote the stuff. (Read more chocolate stories.)

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