What Buyers Are Saying

Yellow Seed is fueled by your input.  Below are our favorite quotes* of the year from cacao buyers and chocolate makers captured in Yellow Seed interviews and our website feedback forms. This snapshot provides a glimmer of the challenges and excitement in the growing craft economy.

 

BEST QUOTES OF 2015

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“There are a lot of new chocolate makers coming out looking for high quality beans. These buyers are not as price sensitive. They want something unique. And then there are all these producers out there who don’t know how to find buyers. Essentially this is the problem that Yellow Seed is trying to solve.”

~Cacao buyer, Interview.

 

“It is easy to get samples of things now. However, it’s not easy to get samples of good things.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.  

 

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A MAGIC WAND would be to be able to say ‘I want a nutty bean’ and that search gives you 5 people who have a nutty bean in country, the price and the quantity on hand. Oh and tie all flavor results to harvests, because flavor profiles change per harvest.”

~Chocolate buyer and maker, Interview.

 

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_MG_9069Conservation & Desarrollo and other Associations support flavor program in Ecuador. http://www.ccd.ec/es/, http://cacaodesabor.blogspot.com/

 

“I feel that cacao has been somewhat neglected (vs. coffee) and it’s best to dedicate my time in improving something – to polish it, to elevate it. Cacao requires more work to raise its reputation. I love novelty and experimenting. And the craft keeps surprising me. It opens up 100 new doors and alley ways. Flavor development is constantly evolving. I enjoy working with farmers to continuously improve the product and bring out better flavors.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

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Chocolate Makers in Antigua, Guatamala

 

“The shipping industry is built around the shipping container. There is a 20-foot container and a 40-foot container that transports cacao. If you look at moving less than 12.5 MT it presents challenges. You are either increasing costs significantly or you end up trying to piggyback and fill that shipment with other shipments like rice to keep costs down.”

~Cacao buyer, Interview.

 

“We run out of beans constantly. For example, in January [a seller] said he had 3MT of beans for us, but [months later] he has yet to ship these beans. The issue is not bad planning, it’s just that [logistics and sourcing] take a really long time and there are a lot of things that could go astray in the meantime. To make sure you always have beans, you have to over capitalize enormously. [To meet production] you should have a year’s worth of beans on hand, if you’re smart.”

~ Chocolate maker, Interview.  

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Photo by Alexis Grossman

 

 

One of the HARDEST parts of chocolate sourcing is finding people you can trust and finding good cacao. Typically, there is a lot of mistrust between both farmers and buyers. One of the best thing that Yellow Seed is doing is finding the people and creating a way to know if people are legit on all sides.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

“The challenging thing is not just the logistics, but it is finding people to buy beans from. This is the fun gooey stuff and it’s the stuff that you really have to find out – who you trust and who you don’t trust. The rest is easy.”

~Cacao buyer, Interview.

 

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Aproca, Ecuador.

 

“Someone needs to make a landscape diagram of the network of players and then try to connect them to show the interactions and how they can move forward.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

It is very costly to bring newer farm origins online, due to quality improvement, training and infrastructure. It takes more time and money to establish [a trade relationship] than many small-scale makers have.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

“Once an issue [with a farm producer] was brought up, it was how the organization dealt with the issue that really changed the future of that relationship. It is the willingness or desire of how you handle those challenges and how you get over them that are really telling. For example, if something bad happens, we don’t just stop right away. We have a conversation. ‘Here is what we are seeing, here is what is going on and what can we do to prevent this.’ But then if you go 2, 3 or 4 strikes and you don’t see any effort for change, you can’t make good quality products. Then you know the business suffers and we are not doing anything that’s meaningful [in regards to improving livelihood] on the ground.”

~Cacao buyer, Interview.

 

“If the groups that are producing [cacao] don’t have a really clear idea of what it is you are looking for as a buyer, then someone is bound to be disappointed.”

~Cacao buyer,  Interview.

 

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Sofia Rubio, Producer of Brazil Nut and Chocolate Products, Peru

 

“I am drawn to the chocolate business because of how it helps advance the lives of producers. I also love the science and art that goes into the craft.”

~ New chocolate product maker, Website form.

 

We seek a more direct connection with cacao farmers. However we simply do not have the time to make those connections happen and we rely on others to procure our beans.”

~‘Possibly the smallest batch maker working in a 200 sq ft factory,’ Website form.

 

“The American market can afford to pay more for chocolate and in paying more for chocolate every part of the system can be supported.

~ Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

We should be paying $10, instead of $4 for chocolate bars.”

~Large-scale chocolate maker, Interview.

 

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Hand wrapped with care

 

“The big selling point of what we do is not just the quality but it is the ETHICS. Instead of having a stamp on the product, we have the photographs and a story of the people who we purchase cacao from. That’s what matters.”

~Craft chocolate maker, Interview.

 

The level of transparency that we are really looking for goes beyond any of the certifications that are out there.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

“I would love to see continual feedback and communication among every step in the industry; transparency from farmers to roaster to see how everything is priced and the margins each receive.”

~ Chocolate Roaster, just starting up! Website form.

 

With certification, what you are paying for is the label. Craft chocolate makers would rather pay more money to just fly there and see [the farm and operation]. People care a lot more about quality and so we have to verify every piece of the value chain.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

Cacao is 20 years behind coffee in terms of the systems in place. Even with Fair Trade, nothing we buy is certified. We buy everything from small producers.”

~Cacao buyer, Interview.

 

“The industry needs agreements between buyers and farmers to be open and judged. This transparency is the only thing to give Direct Trade meaning. Currently Direct Trade is strictly operational and not values oriented.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

Photo Credit Dan Collins

Photo by Dan Collins

 

“The primary focus of our sourcing protocol is increasing farm gate income. By bringing more money into those communities you are empowering the individuals to speak to priorities and define how [the trade relationship] is going to work. As a cocoa buyer and a chocolate maker, that is the primary focus, everything else is kind of icing on the cake.

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

“The path to growing fine flavor cacao seems riskier for the producer. They have heard for years,low prices, large volumes and mellow flavors.’ And now we’re coming in and telling them that ‘small volumes are ok, bold flavors are preferred and we are willing to pay more.’ However this complete change in direction is a big risk for the producer, especially without some level of market guarantee.  They’re a little anxious if they do all this work to change over [to quality] and we disappear in a year. We need to prove that we’re not going to just be around for one or two years.  In order for this whole ecosystem to work, chocolate makers need to be talking to, working with and investing in producers.”

~Chocolate maker, Interview.

 

* Note: Quotes represent our most accurate description of what we transcribed at the time. We did not include names for privacy.

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