It is one of the world’s favourite ingredients, particularly during the festive season, yet no two cocoa beans are the same. ISO’s International Standard for cocoa quality has recently been updated, just in time to make Santa’s visits a little sweeter.
We all know that chocolate is good for heart and soul, but did you know that it all starts with the humble cocoa bean? Largely cultivated by some 14 million hard-working cocoa workers in countries around the equator, on typically smallholder farms, cocoa is difficult to grow and most farms experience low yields.
Yet with the developed world’s taste for the sweet stuff never ceasing to increase, ensuring that the quality of the cocoa bean is internationally agreed has never been more important.
ISO 2451, Cocoa beans – Specification and quality requirements, does just that, by specifying the requirements, classification, sampling, test methods, packing and marking of cocoa beans, with additional recommendations related to storage and disinfestation. It covers everything from size and colour, to moisture content, preparation and classification of the beans.
The new standard was developed by ISO’s technical committee for cocoa, ISO/TC 34, Food products, subcommittee SC 18, Cocoa, whose secretariat is jointly held by GSA, ISO’s member for Ghana, and NEN, ISO’s member for the Netherlands.
MacMillan Prentice, Co-Secretary of ISO/TC 34/SC 18, says ISO 2451 was updated to harmonize the language, requirements and grading of cocoa bean quality across the cocoa world and to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to effectively test for such quality. “It was developed by a broad group of stakeholders, including representatives from the private sector and governments, with the objective that it will help to further facilitate international trade.”
ISO/TC 34/SC 18, in cooperation with technical committee CEN/TC 415, Sustainable and traceable cocoa, of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), is also responsible for the development of the series ISO 34101, Sustainable and traceable cocoa, which consists of four parts on sustainability management systems, performance, traceability and certification schemes.