In Britain we eat an estimated 660,900 tonnes of chocolate a year, an average of 11kg per person per year. This equates to about 3 bars a week!
But how much do you really know about chocolate?
- Chocolate comes from a fruit tree and is a seed.
- The Theobroma Cacao tree (meaning Food of the Gods) produces cocoa beans, with each tree producing approximately 2500 beans
- It takes around 400 cocoa beans to make a pound of chocolate and 70% of them comes from West Africa, with the Ivory Coast producing roughly 40% of the world’s supply.
- There are an estimated 1.5 million cocoa farms in West Africa, owned by small families, where the beans are harvested by hand.
- The crop is so delicate however, that often, up to 30% is lost.
- A cocoa farmer must wait around 4 or 5 years for a tree to produce its first beans.
- There are two kinds of cacao – forastero beans, which are easy to grow – and crillo beans, which is believed to make a better tasting chocolate.
- Some trees are over 200 years old but only produce usable cacao for the first 25 years.
- Most cocoa farms are not owned by the companies that make chocolate but thanks to some programmes supported by the industry, farmers are now earning around 20-50% more than in the past.
- Between 40 and 50 million people world-wide depend on cocoa for their livelihood but their income can be affected by the fluctuation in the value of the price of cocoa.
- White chocolate is not strictly chocolate as it doesn’t contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor. It does, however, contain cocoa butter.
- The Aztecs valued the cacao bean so much that they used it as currency.
- The melting point of chocolate is around the same as human body temperature – which is why is tastes so good as it melts on your tongue!
- Chocolate first arrived in Europe some time in the 16th century – the Fry and Son company made the first eating chocolate, but it was Cadbury who made the first bars.
International Chocolate Day is September 13th with World Chocolate Day on July 7th – but do we really need an excuse to eat chocolate?!