Salon du Chocolat, the most important public and trade event devoted to the world of chocolate, celebrated its 17th edition, October 20 – 24th  at Pavillion 5 ViParis, Porte de Versailles in the French capital.

Choosing the theme “Ethnic and Choc” show organizers, French entrepreneurs Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet, followed their goal of connecting the different actors along the chocolate supply chain with the end consumer in a fun, educational, entertaining and professional atmosphere. Around 400 chocolate experts including trader Alter Eco and Latin American producers and exporters Pacari, Machu Picchu Foods and 200 leading chocolatiers and skilled pastry chefs shared their recipes and experience during culinary activities to showcase amazing and delicious pieces. To raise consumer awareness of the organic, fair-trade cocoa sector and its initiatives promoting sustainable development, Alter Eco sponsored a competition to win a trip for two to visit a cocoa cooperative in the Peruvian Amazon. Visitors also enjoyed the famous catwalk of chocolate clothes, conferences, book displays and plenty of information about the latest chocolate trends. The success of Salon du Chocolat has been transferred to sister events hosted in New York, Tokyo, Peking, Moscow and Shanghai and Brazil will become the first cacao-producing country to host an edition of Salon du Chocolat in July 2012.

Nevertheless, Peru since the past two years, and Ecuador this year, both well known cacao and chocolate producers and exporters, have also organized their own events in an attempt to offer a platform for the industry to connect and to increase local awareness of the real taste of chocolate and its origins. In May the French Chamber of Commerce hosted the "Salon de Chocolate," in Quito in cooperation with the Programa de Desarollo Economico Local (Prodel - a division of USAID) and local producers like Pacari, Hoja Verde and Kallari.

The second edition of “Salon de Cacao y Chocolate Peru” was co-hosted by the Peruvian Association of Cocoa Producers (APPCACAO) and local government and international cooperation organizations at the Sheraton Hotel in Lima, July 7 – 10. Under the slogan ¨Good chocolate comes from the field¨, the event attracted a crowd of 7,000 consumers, local and international buyers, consultants, celebrity chefs, processors and producers. An amazing sculpture made with 100% bitter chocolate simulating the ruins of Machu Picchu was the perfect icon at the entrance to the event. A museo-like display guided the visitors through the history and the health benefits of cacao and the development of the chocolate industry. The learning process was accompanied by tastings from over 30 firms exhibiting chocolate made with a variety of exotic ingredients, quinoa, sacha inchi and stevia among them.

In Peru annual consumption of chocolate per capita is only 0.53 kg, compared to 12 kg consumed by the Swiss, the highest in the world. “Peruvians are starting to enjoy the taste of real chocolate made with quality cocoa beans. In the past we only had candy with chocolate flavour, from a low percentage of cocoa liquor,” says Rolando Ramirez, President of APPCacao.

International speakers and attendees at the Salon de Chocolate y Cacao included Pascal Le Gac, founder of Le Maison Du Chocolat in Paris; Valentine Tibere, official representative of Salon Du Chocolat; Archer Daniels Midland from USA and Dr. Marc Cohen, PROCRELYS president from France. Peru is well known for its gastronomy, but few people link Peru with specialty cocoa. “I want to tell Peruvians that they have to take this product as a treasure,” said Mexican chef José Ramón Castillo, who owns the popular TV show Elgourmet.com.