Virtual Eko Chocolate show celebrates global cocoa industry

HRM Oba Dokun Thompson, a traditional regional ruler from Nigeria, and cocoa industry expert, reflected on the recent Eko Chocolate Show 2021 edition, which featured contributions from the UK’s Academy of Chocolate and York Cocoa Works.

The Eko Chocolate Show 2021 edition was staged as a virtual Event, lasting for 16 hours over two days, with over 300 participants representing about 30 countries.

Its theme: Our Cocoa Our Chocolate Our Pride was about building the bridge between production and consumption, celebrating everyone and one another across the globe where cocoa is produced and chocolate is consumed.

The Director of the Show, Dr Dammie Osoba in her opening address mentioned that in 2020, the show could not hold due to Covid-19 and while the situation remained unchanged, it made it possible to have a line-up of chocolate makers, consultants, chocolate sculptor, equipment and accessories manufacturers, technology solutions providers, cocoa researchers and chocolate awarding bodies from across the globe to be part of the edition in a manner that ensured all participants and guests to the virtual event got the maximum benefit that would have been experienced at a physical event.

The first day had presentations by Partners to the Show, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria and Academy of Chocolate UK. Clive Martyr of AoC stated that the quality crusade had started in Africa just like all other parts of the world and Africa had the potential for growing more fine flavoured beans beyond the bulk purchase cocoa it is known for while Chantal Coady OBE (pictured in the main image speaking at the event), mentioned one of the main focus of AoC was to see improved welfare for cocoa farmers, traceability, sustainability and quality.

Sponsors included Safranne Chocolate Moulds of Turkey and Claire Global of Spain who presented their technology enhanced Global Market Place App that gave subscribers the power to eliminate middle men and reach out to more customers across the globe for their seamless B2B transactions.

Artisan Chocolate makers from Africa – Yemmies, Shara, Chockridge and Chocboy all from Nigeria, Ohene Cocoa Ghana, Nya Mboa Cameroon, Moonbean Uganda showcased their products infused with different African twists with rich array of spices, fruits and nuts while Gabu Chocolatier of Grenada and Cacoa St Lucie of St Lucia gave a peep into the carribean flavour.

There were also small size cocoa processors – Spectra Industries, Amel Susan from Nigeria and Tafissa of Ivory Coast who shared their experiences and challenges of the market.

Cocoa Jones and York Cocoa House (Sophie Jewett, pictured below),  both from the UK had a lot to share on their concept of ethical production and the need to make chocolate that will offer more to the producing regions. Coffee which can be described as twin to cocoa was not left out as Happy Coffee Nigeria showcased their offerings while Prime Coffee London shared in addition to their coffee offered, their unique branded chocolate using cocoa beans from their farms in Nigeria.

Raw Beauty and Honey Pot both from Nigeria showcased their range of cosmetics products made out of cocoa and what could even be regarded as cocoa waste with the message that there was no such thing as waste when it came to cocoa.

As people try to understand chocolate, it becomes a case of, the more they see, the less they know and this was captured in Gerhard Petzl’s presentation when he shared his amazing art work and pieces made from chocolate with sculptures, crystals and layers of chocolate landscape explained in ways no one ever knew existed and participants were left amazed.

Coeur de Xocolat of UK, Innova Food Egypt and Cocoa Town USA were also part of the Show. They gave broad presentations on understanding the most cost effective ways of establishing affordable and cost effective Chocolate making processes for those who were interested in investing in the chocolate business.

At the end of the two days, His Excellency Guy Mayers (pictured left at the Academy of Chocolate’s previous annual event in the UK with Oba Dukun Thompson), St Lucia High Commissioner to the UK, mentioned that plans were underway towards the maiden edition of the International Cocoa Festival in conjunction with the Africa Cocoa and Chocolate Forum to be held in St Lucia during the last week of May 2022.

As convener of the Africa Cocoa and Chocolate Forum, I contributed in reemphasising the importance of the collaboration between Africa and the Caribbean towards the cocoa culture development, through building of partnerships to unlock opportunities for wealth creation purposes for the transformation of cocoa producing regions.

In her closing remarks, the Chairman of Eko Chocolate Show, Yeye Hon Omoua Alonge Oni-Okpaku stated that with Cocoa and Chocolate better understood, it was certain that people would continue to share Love, embrace one another in Peace and establish relationships that will make the world a better place for all and hoped the next edition would be a physical one where participants can all meet face to face, hold hands, hug one another and truly celebrate the magic of Cocoa which is LOVE.


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