FCIA 10 Years On – Reflecting Back & Forging a Way Forward for Fine Chocolate.
Welcome to the inaugural FCIA Focus, a new and ongoing column in Dessert Professional. As the newly appointed President of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA), I’m grateful to this esteemed industry publication for the opportunity for FCIA to share critical insights, knowledge and developing trends and issues. This is an honor bestowed on FCIA after serving the fine chocolate community for the past 10 years.
A decade ago, 16 leading fine chocolate industry pioneers came together to create the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) in the hopes of harnessing, expanding and sharing their collective knowledge and passion for exceptional chocolate. Since then, the FCIA has grown to include almost 300 direct members with a large supporting fine chocolate global community, while holding true to its founding premise of providing a forum for education, engagement and empowerment. We are committed to listening to and learning from each other and the industry. As 2016 draws to a close, we reflect on what we’ve learned over the past 10 years and chart a path forward that continues to build on the lessons learned and innovative efforts of the FCIA’s diverse and passionate members.
Where We’ve Been & What We’ve Learned
- FCIA has convened over 200 educational forums for the fine chocolate community. Educational topics include: Ingredient Trends & Flavor Composition, Marketing & Branding, Innovations, Equipment, Packaging Techniques, Regulations, Business Practices, Tastings & Sourcing.
- Continual outreach by our members to help educate the industry as a whole and farmers globally on leading post-harvest practices (impacts on flavor from genetics, fermentation and environment/terroir).
- Heirloom Cacao Partnership – Launched in 2012 -- Our partnership with the HCP focuses on building and nurturing relationships with farmers globally to preserve heirloom cacao and capture the exceptional and unique flavor profiles that only the finest cacao from around the world can offer. The HCP is an important tool to promote global sustainability. We are at a critical inflection point that demands the collective support of not only the fine chocolate industry, but also dessert professionals if we are to continue to preserve the artisanal flavors and quality of heirloom cacao for future generations.
- Overseas Trips to Support Heirloom Cacao Partnership & Cacao Farmers Globally
In all our efforts, we’ve learned the value of bringing together our industry, listening and learning from one another, and the power of speaking from that collective wisdom so we can continue to support the exciting growth and passion of the fine chocolate industry.
Where We Go From Here – The Future of Fine Chocolate
So much has changed in the chocolate industry in the last 10 years, with fine chocolate leading the way. While broad consumption of chocolate has been trending downward as of late, demand and interest for fine chocolate continues to rise. The fine chocolate industry is at a tipping point and now is the time for growing our membership to take advantage of this increasing demand. The more members we have, the stronger our voice and the more we can support the industry. We’re kicking off a year-long 10th Anniversary celebration this January, and we are excited to let the many audiences we serve (chocolate maker, chocolatier, industry supplier, etc.) know that we have their specific needs in mind as we plan for the next 10 years. We’re adding benefits that will meet their needs in the form of: Chocolate maker and chocolatier forums, ground-breaking national research into consumer perception of fine chocolate (results to be presented at our January event), tours to origin, regional meet-ups, quarterly webinars and a mentoring program.
Going forward, the FCIA is also focused on creating an educational portal which will house our best practices and lessons learned, so members can access new learnings on demand. We will also launch new consumer awareness initiatives and expand our support of the HCP by searching for more heirloom cacao around the world. We plan to be a leading voice on developing sensory standards for cacao by leveraging the vast knowledge and passion of our membership.
To do all that we have planned, to have the collective impact we envision, we invite you to join us.
To learn more about the FCIA and to take advantage of our current membership campaign, visit www.finechocolateindustry.org/joinus.