Apart from its rich and unique taste, Cacao holds a cultural and ceremonial significance in Belize especially in the South. The Toledo Cacao Festival is held in celebration of cacoa and chocolate. Well, in order to ensure that the flavor and ritualistic importance is preserved and carried over to international markets, a Cacao Validation workshop was held on Friday in Punta Gorda. The objective of the workshop was to assess and endorse two draft reports concerning an Industry Strategy for Belizean Cacoa. Manger of Export Belize at BELTRAIDE discussed the impact this strategy will have on the success of the industry in Belize and abroad.

Lejia Melanie Gideon, BELTRAIDE
"Belgium is known for, along with the Nederland's, to be the two top countries that produces chocolate, yet they do not grow Cacao beans and we went there for two things; to assess if there is a niche market for Belizean Niche products, whether it's the Cacao bean, whether its various products, along the value chain and whether it's the final product chocolate and so we went to a fair and it was a resounding yes. The amount of boutique chocolatiers that we saw and the amount of demand for various products in the value chain from the bean, up to different things, their liqueur, their cocoa butter - everything in between. There is a huge demand."

Shahera McKoy, BELTRAIDE
"Basically what we are trying to do here, is to look at Cacao from production to finish product, looking at international markets for not only the Cacao beans, but also for chocolate and other finished products made using Belizean Cacao. What will come from that and the engagement with stakeholders is to develop a strategy for implementation that will include anywhere from looking at increasing current production of Cacao in Belize, improving our processing practices, marketing better in international markets and anything that gets awareness, for not only the Cacao beans, but the additional products that are produced."

The Industry strategy focuses on programs and activities to increase productivity of raw beans, value added products and services and the environment.

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