Origin Traceability

The International Chocolate Awards is committed to supporting economically, socially and environmentally sustainable cacao farming where farmers are paid a reasonable price that reflects the work that goes into growing fine cacao.

We also believe that the best tasting chocolate with the best flavor profiles comes from directly sourced fine cacao.
To promote these goals and to ensure the very highest standard of entries, from 2023 we only accept entries made with chocolate from fully traceable origin cacao from a small number of sources. This aligns with our founding philosophy that the best chocolate can only come from the best origin cacao.

Traceable cacao

Farmer holding orange/red cacao pod in forest

In our 2021-22 season, we introduced the idea that all chocolate entered into our competitions should have a traceable source for the cacao used to make the chocolate. This was a good start, but we wanted to take things further and focus on farmers working to produce the very best in fine cacao with good flavor.

Building on that success, from 2023 we now require that all chocolate entered into our competitions comes from fully traceable sources.

This makes sense, because most fine cacao comes from a single source – usually a cooperative, an individual farmer or a post-harvest processer who collects cacao from local farmers and then ferments and dries the cacao.

What do we mean by ‘Origin’?

‘Origin’ means a known region, area, district, or farm recognised as a source of fine cacao. It doesn’t mean a whole country as this is too general. (It would be like a bottle of wine labelled only as being from France or Italy).

We allow up to 3 different sources (coops, farmers or collection centers) in one origin.

We do allow smaller producing countries to be considered as a single origin though, for example Caribbean countries such as Grenada, which produce a small amount of cacao and have a distinct flavor profile.

What about blends?

Most chocolate sold in the world is a blend of cacao from different countries, or from many cacao growers in a larger cacao producing country. This is usually done to create a bland, generic flavour and to hide poor quality cacao. Most craft chocolate though is produced from single origin source, where the chocolate maker focuses on the specific flavor of the origin.

Sometimes though a maker wants to create a blend, for balance or to create a combination of flavor profiles, just like you would find in wine, whisky or olive oil. So we do accept blends, as long as each individual origin is named and the full traceability details are given. We limit blends to a maximum of three different origins to ensure a focus on fine flavor, rather than commercial blandness.

What about chocolatiers?

Good chocolate is not just theoretical, how chocolate tastes is the most important part of what we do. We want to celebrate and promote craft chocolatiers who might not make their own chocolate (its a very different skill), but have chosen to use high quality origin chocolate for their creations. So all the chocolate they use must follow the same rules. We also ask that they send us a small sample of the chocolate they are using to be sure that it meets the expected origin and flavour standards.

Want to taste some great chocolate made with traceable origin cacao? Visit our Winners section for some of the best examples.