IT’S A YES! You voted yes for a new micro-batch category, but with a few conditions about quality, machine size and who can enter.
The results of our micro-batch survey are in. We asked our entrants, judges and the wider fine chocolate industry if we should add a new category for micro-batch chocolate makers.
Answers came from respected and established chocolate makers, small-scale micro-batch start-ups, judges and others in the industry. We received over 100 responses and the answer was a clear majority of ‘yes’ for a new category, with only 9% voting for no change and an overall majority from both entrants and judges voting for a completely separate micro-batch category (54%).
It was also clear from the votes and comments that the standard and quality of any product that’s given a prize must not be compromised, regardless of the category.
56% of those who replied also said there should an overall prize for best chocolate, allowing all plain-origin bars to compete for best chocolate in the competition, how ever they were made.
The size of machine that counts as micro-batch was less clear, with a slim majority of chocolate companies voting for 30 kilos or less for the refiner or for the largest machine in the production line. Judges and others thought differently though, so the combined vote was only 35% in favour of a 30 kilo limit. In this case, Grand Jury discretion will be applied to combine the 30 kilo and 50 kilo votes, giving a more clear cut 64%. So 50 kilos or less it is.
Can large companies enter micro-batch?
Our respondees were equally split on whether large companies who mostly buy chocolate but also have some micro-batch production should be allowed to enter the new category. Examples would be chocolatiers who mostly buy couverture or chains with in-store production in some stores.
Entrants were equally divided on this, but other chocolate companies mostly said ‘no’, while judges generally said ‘yes’. As there is no clear decision, Grand Jury discretion will apply. The idea of the micro-batch category is to support small companies making chocolate, so entries from large commercial companies won’t be encouraged, however, Grand Jury discretion will apply in cases that are not clear cut.
Conclusions and actions
- Add a new micro-batch dark plain origin bar category for 2015
- Overall prizes for ‘best plain/origin chocolate bar, covering all plain/origin categories, including micro-batch and high-percentage
- Micro-batch defined by largest machine size in production line as 50 kilos or less
- The micro-batch category is aimed at smaller companies producing all their chocolate from micro-batch machines, but entries from larger companies may be considered at Grand Jury discretion
The definitions and criteria will be reviewed after an initial period to check if they need to be refined, in which case we will again consult our entrants, judges and the wider industry.
Thank you to all those who took part. We look forward to entries in this exciting new category in 2015.