Cacao-Trace: Better tasting chocolate through expert fermentation



Imagine a region where each cocoa farmer grows, harvests, ferments and dries his cocoa beans. They will each use their own skills and customs and end up with different types of cocoa beans with different qualities that will be used to make chocolate. This is what commonly happens in cocoa. Although fermentation seems by no means to be of the highest priority among many companies in the cocoa industry, the process is key.

Where the chocolate industry traditionally focuses on an increased quantity of dried cocoa beans, Cacao-Trace takes a different approach. This sustainable cocoa-sourcing program aims for chocolate with superior taste. Based on years of research, expert fermenters set new criteria for the fermentation process. They collect the finest fresh beans and take control of the natural fermentation process in post-harvest centers to let the beans’ original taste potential develop in the best possible way. They closely monitor the whole process and adapt the fermentation sequence, time, moisture and temperature.

 This level of control allows them to produce only the specific flavor combinations desired- even different chocolate flavors made from the same beans. As fermentation is an essential step in producing delicious chocolate, this makes the difference between average and superior quality.


The focus on superior tasting chocolate contributes directly to better living conditions for the farmers and their communities.

Adjoumani is a cocoa farmer from Ivory Coast who works within the Cacao-Trace program. He benefits from individual coaching to grow higher quality cocoa and receives guidance to run his farm in a more professional way. Once Adjoumani has collected his fresh beans, he brings them to a Cacao-Trace post-harvest fermentation center, giving him extra time to spend on other crops on his farm. Thanks to the high quality of his beans, Adjoumani gets an additional quality premium for his cocoa beans. But Cacao-Trace does not stop there. In addition, he receives an extra Chocolate Bonus every year he receives an additional Chocolate Bonus. Per pound of Cacao-Trace chocolate that is sold, 5 cents goes to a Chocolate Bonus Counter, 100% of which is redistributed every year to the cocoa farmer community. This can add up to an additional 1 or 2 months of salary.

“When you ferment well, you can smell the chocolate. Cacao-Trace lets every bean express all its diversity and uniqueness.”


The Cacao-Trace program has all the classical elements of sustainable certification schemes like farmer field training, ethical and fair pricing and diversification of the farmer’s production and revenues. However, it is unique on two points:

  • Applying decades of fermentation expertise in post-harvest centers, located in cocoa producing countries around the world, is the key ingredient in delivering superior tasting chocolate and higher income for our cocoa farmers.
  • By selling this higher quality chocolate to customers and consumers, they share this tasty benefit entirely back with our Cacao-Trace farmer communities via the Chocolate Bonus.

We launched our Cacao-Trace program in 2013 because we wanted to develop our own approach for better control of the cocoa chain with the aim of creating a benefit for everyone and for generations to come. Because we truly believe that creating a better chocolate together is the only way to sustainability.

Today, our program is based in five cocoa-producing countries across the world: Ivory Coast, Vietnam, The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Mexico. We are committed to continued investments in sustainable cocoa.


Belcolade launches the ultimate origin chocolate: Papua New Guinea 73 Cacao-Trace

The latest result from the Cacao-Trace philosophy is Belcolade Origins Papua New Guinea 73. Papua New Guinea chocolate typically has a smoked flavor because of the traditional drying technique. With this chocolate, Belcolade - the real Belgian chocolate brand of Puratos - wanted to safeguard the pure and natural taste of the region. An optimized fermentation procedure, an adapted natural drying technique and careful roasting of the cocoa beans allowed the authentic flavors of the cocoa bean to naturally express in the final dark, non-smoky chocolate. The result is a surprising complexity of flavors: roasted flavors of coffee, hazelnut with notes of both fresh and dried fruit. And underlying hints of black pepper and honey.

The Cacao-Trace program and its close partnership with cocoa farmers started in 2018 and has already made a positive impact on the environment and the livelihoods of the local communities. Next step in the program is the distribution of the chocolate bonus.


Click on this WeTransfer-link for high-quality pictures and videos on Cacao-Trace’s activities. Feel free to use them on social media, in blog posts or in articles!


Youri Dumont

Business Unit Director Chocolate

Raphael Audoin Rouzeau

Global Cocoa Sourcing Manager

Press Contact

Alejandro Tovar - VP of Marketing:

About Puratos

Puratos is an international group, which offers a full range of innovative products and application expertise for artisans, industry, retailers and food service customers in the bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors. Our headquarters are located on the outskirts of Brussels (Belgium), where the company was founded in 1919. Today, our products and services are available in over 100 countries around the world. In many cases, they are produced locally by our subsidiaries. Above all, we aim to be ‘reliable partners in innovation’ across the globe to help our customers deliver nutritious, tasty food to their local communities.