Author Archives: Geert Vercruysse

About Geert Vercruysse

Life is short, Break the rules, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile. Dont Like: Cheat's, liar's. Those who say they will do.... and then dont! I’ve learned that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

How LBCs are illegally renting certification licenses to businessmen.

JoyNews investigations have uncovered how some Licensed Buying Companies and farmer society groups illegally rent their certification licenses to businessmen to enable them to export regular cocoa as certified ones.

It came to the fore that a certification license could be rented out for as high as a million cedis to businessmen.

Under the Cocoa Sustainability Initiative, farmers are paid extra premium for growing certified cocoa.

However, in many cocoa growing areas across the country, there’s a blatant abuse of the system giving rise to a situation where some LBCs do not pay the appropriate premium and also pass regular cocoa as certified.

In the latest Hotline Documentary dubbed Robbing The Poor, investigative journalist Kwetey Nartey probed these underhand dealings that make the farmer poorer defeating the purpose of the Cocoa Sustainability Programme by dealing with certification bodies as one of the managers of a new LBC.

In April 2019, UTZ, a cocoa certification standard body, sets up its Cocoa Assurance Plan which included a temporary ban on any new cocoa certifications in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire. Applying for a new license is out of the question.

In this exposé, the investigative team decided to go on a hunt for licensed buying companies or interest groups in the cocoa sector willing to trade their license.

Hope Wordu, an official of the Business Assurance BV, a certification body, was willing to assist in the process to obtain a certification license through shady deals with officials of LBCs and CSO in the cocoa sector.

Hope who also works with two certification bodies took a commitment fee of $1000 to start his work.

He opened up on how he will work the documentation when UTZ/Rainforest Alliance lifts the ban to enable the undercover team to certify its own farm group for the certification process, part of which may be genuine, while a significant part will be falsified.

He even admitted his actions could attract sanctions from the certification standards body if caught. But, for him, the gains outweigh the odds.

Mr Wordu knows very well why farmers are being exploited by some LBCs that have signed up for the certification programme and admits that the 25% of cash premium must be given to farmers.

In all, we will spend fewer dollars on securing UTZ/Rainforest certificate if we engage his services.

We agreed to a commitment fee of $2,000 after signing a contract with him. A project management fee of $1,000 for 12 months, ten per cent of the total premium received from UTZ/RA certified procurement. He set up a meeting with Abraham, one of the senior managers of a licensed buying company in the country.

He elected Hope to be his spokesperson during the meeting. They expressed their willingness to give the undercover team their RainForest Alliance certificate to sign an agreement and ship certified cocoa to a ghost chocolate company.

Abraham pledges that the team can use their RainForest certificate and pay ¢140,000 as renewal fees. Hope steps in to reassure the team that this practice is general conduct among some licensed buying companies. He says some companies are actually trading with other companies’ certificates.

In this case, he adds that the undercover team needs to do a bit of training for the farmers to cover up the fraud.

To ascertain how deep this canker is in the industry, the undercover team requested a meeting with another cocoa interest group willing to sell their certificate to me. Hope introduces the team to officials of farmer-based association Kookoo Pa.

Its Executive Director, Fred Amponsah and one Ibrahim are were present at the discussion which centered on how much each would gain if the deal is pulled off successfully.

The conversation then shifted to the shady details of using their certificate to export cocoa to chocolate producers.

Hope admits that this act is illegal. But for him, in business, interest matters more than standards.

It will cost the team ¢1 million to own the certificate of Kookoo Pa farmer-based association. The executives presented the team with two certificates as proof of how serious they were in engaging the team.

o industry players, this issue should be a matter of concern.

Selling the certification standard is an affront to the integrity of the program. Country Director of UTZ/RA spells out what it could cost them if such evidence is presented.

The regulator, COCOBOD knows what this means to the industry. Head of Public Relations Fiifi Boafo says bending rules under the certification programme should not be condoned.

Clearly, it is those in charge of setting the standards for poor cocoa growers who are rather breaking the rules. But, this breach of protocols, meant to attract sanctions, is rather making these crooked officials better off, while farmers sink deep in poverty.

It may appear to be a simple case of poor implementation of the cocoa certification programme.

However, this is a complex, dubious, deliberate practice of sidestepping the processes and paying cash premiums to farmers for the purchase of conventional cocoa bagged as certified ones.

When JoyNews contacted officials of Olam Ghana and Nyonkopa cocoa buying companies they said their international office hasn’t given them any clearance to speak on the issue.

Eliho cocoa buying company said they are unable to speak to the issue and directed the investigative team to speak to the licensed cocoa buying association.

Officials of Kuapa Kooko also did not provide responses to the team after they had requested for a formal letter detailing questions we wish them to answer.

Footnote: Equator Commodities is not involved in any of the malpractice this expose sought to unravel. The investigative team in their dealings used the said name as a cover-up story to infiltrate the camp of those renting cocoa certificates.


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Posted by on 01/11/2020 in scandal, Travel


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Fermentation & Flavor Development

In the chocolate industry, fermentation is considered one of the crucial steps for the development of all the amazing flavors we experience in fine chocolate. The harvested beans, still covered in their white pulp, are loaded into buckets and transported to a central fermentation area for processing, often mixed in with beans from neighboring farms. Farmers then transfer the cocoa beans to specialized fermenting “sweatboxes”, usually covering them with banana leaves. Here is where the magic happens, or rather where science and nature join forces to develop the precursors of all the chocolatey flavors we so adore.

The process works something like this: the sugars inside the white pulp – glucose, fructose and sucrose – are transformed into alcohol. The alcohol then turns into acetic acid that diffuses into the beans themselves. The chemical reactions involved in fermentation produce a significant amount of heat, making the pile of beans reach temperatures up to 55°C after a few days. The germ within the bean dies and this triggers the release of enzymes. These enzymes are important for the development of chocolate flavors. We can say that these naturally occurring microorganism kick-start the fermentation process, changing the sugars in the pulp to organic acids, and giving the beans their flavor.

After 2-3 days, farmers turn the pile over. This helps to ensure an even fermentation and introduces air into the fermentation process which, depending on the cacao variety, can last up to 7 days.

Fermentation has such a big impact on the cocoa beans that, even by using the same exact cocoa beans, results can vary widely when tiny changes are made during the fermentation process (how long the beans stay inside the boxes, how many times they are turned, etc). Some craft chocolate makers have fun experimenting with cacao that has been subjected to different fermentation protocols. The results are chocolate bars with completely different aromatic profiles, even if they are made with the exact same beans!



Dick Taylor Madagascar Sambirano Dark Chocolate

Koko Buzz

Dick Taylor Open Bar 406 If you think this intricate molding is hard to achieve, it’s even more difficult without soy lecithin.   What a beautiful presentation!

I’ve found myself in a rut this year somehow eating only simple chocolates including some quasi-mass-market brands.  It’s what’s been lying around the kitchen and it has done a fine job at satisfying my impulse cravings, but has not been all that interesting.  That all changed when I found myself in Harvard Square this weekend where I stepped into the landmark gourmet shop – Cardullo’s.  Like other shops around the country, I’ve seen their selection of artisan chocolates slowly dwindle in recent years, but I knew I could rely upon them to have something beyond the average confection.

There I found Bonnat – too delicate, Dolfin – over refined, Antidote – fun, but I was not in the mood, and then Dick Taylor – perfect, reliably excellent.  And…

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What’s the REAL expiration date of chocolate bars?

When you buy a chocolate bar, you are inclined to check the expiration date written on the packaging to figure out how long the chocolate will be edible for (in case this is even an issue). Or in other cases, you will find a chocolate bar hidden somewhere in your house and look at the expiration date to see if it’s still safe to eat.

You might be surprised to know that, despite the expiration date, chocolate stays edible and safe to eat for longer than what’s indicated on the packaging.

Chocolate bars last longer than other foods because there is no water activity in them, which means that there is no environment for bacterial growth. Also the amount of cocoa butter in it has a stabilizing effect on the chocolate. This is why you will rarely find a proper Expiration Date on chocolate bars, but most likely a Best Before Date, to indicate that the chocolate will maintain its best aromatic and textural properties until that period of time.

However, chocolate makers, whether artisanal or industrial, are very cautious with best before dates. They’d rather indicate a shorter time-frame than a longer one.

Chocolate bars are best eaten as fresh as possible, but they can still be considered edible a few months after the best before date printed on the packaging. Depending on the type of chocolate, the integrity of the package and the kind of storage, there are some general indications to follow.

Dark chocolate is known for lasting longer than milk and white chocolate.The absence of dairy content makes it less perishable. If unopened and stored properly, dark chocolate lasts 2 years (from the day it was made). If opened, but still stored properly, the rule of thumb is one year.
As for milk and white chocolate bars, the time available is cut in half. One year if unopened and stored properly, and 6-8 months if opened and stored properly.

Some chocolate professionals also believe that chocolate becomes better as time goes by. Like wine, some new flavors may develop in the chocolate bar with aging.



Moves to clean up chocolate industry are racing ahead.

Moves to clean up chocolate industry are racing ahead | World news | The Guardian
Photograph: Images

Chocolate gets its origin and domestication story rewritten

Long believed to have been domesticated in Central America some 4,000 years ago, cacao has a more interesting story than previously thought #WorldChocolateDay

tomesaveur item op Instagram: “『カントゥ』『オリジナルビーンズ』 オンラインショップにて全品10%オフ! ◆◆QANTU/カントゥ◆◆…”

Bron: tomesaveur item op Instagram: “『カントゥ』『オリジナルビーンズ』 オンラインショップにて全品10%オフ! ◆◆QANTU/カントゥ◆◆…”


For those who think white chocolate isn’t ‘real’ chocolate, have we got bars for you – The Washington Post

White chocolate with almond. Black base, chocolate in the background.
Available in our shop.



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Why Chocolate is Forever: Four Ways We’re Working for the Future of Cocoa | World Cocoa Foundation


Conscious organic Ecuadorian chocolate

Geen boom gekapt. Papier van suikerrietvezels. Kakao uit het Unesco biosfeer Sumaco in de Amazonas van Ecuador. De handgeselecteerde bonen komen van de Kichwa coöperatie Wiñak. In deze aromatische chocola komen de smaken van regenwoud volledig tot zijn recht.

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