Cuvee Bali chocolate, launched in 2016 by Valrhona, has elevated the quality level of Balinese cocoa beans
Although Indonesia is the world's third-largest cocoa producer after the Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, its beans have not traditionally been known for their quality. Bali, which harvests sopk10诀窍me 5,000 tonnes a year (about 3 percent of Indonesia's total production), was no epk10诀窍xception - that is, until recently, when the Cuvee Bali chocolate by French brand Valrhona helped raise the bar.
Far from the island's idyllic beaches and tattooed surfers, the Jembrana region produces 30 percent of Bali's cocoa. Until recently, the beans were sold raw, at low prices to middlemen working with agri-food and cosmetics industry giants.
But five years ago, Agung Widiastuti, the chairwoman of nongovernmental organization Kalimajari, and the 30 cocoa farmers of the Kerta Semaya Samaniya (KSS) cooperative decided to take up the quality challenge.
"When you talk about quality, you're talking about the process of fermenting the beans," says Widiastuti. "In 2012, I started helping the farmers of this cooperative to improve their production in order to find more upscale buyers." At the time, Valrhona was looking to create an Asian chocolate to address growing demand from its clients in the region. The company entered into a partnership with the cooperative and in 2016 bought its first container-load of the fermented, sun-dried, hand-sorted beans, paying double the usual market price. Valrhona then shipped the beans to France - and Cuvee Bali was soon launched.