All of us are chocoholics (if you’re not then you’re making a dire dietary mistake), but as manufacturers look to increase their productivity, and farmers implement agricultural ‘improvement’, the desire for increased yields could result in chocolate losing its all important flavour.
However, the industry may be saved by the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza (thankfully abbreviated as CATIE).
You can check out their website here: http://catie.ac.cr/en/
CATIE has taken on the agricultural improvement of the cocao plant so that cocao yields more fruit and suffers from fewer diseases. The organisation helped to eliminate the threat of frosty pod, a cocao disease that virtually eliminated the cocao plantations in Costa Rica circa 1978.
CATIE, however, have also made it their goal to ensure that chocolate tastes chocolatey. Their studies and improvements on the cocao yield are done according to strict measures that eliminate any crop improvements that diminish the fine, fruity taste of chocolate.
Mark Schatzker, the Flavour Detective, takes a look at how improving the characteristics of chocolate crops has been undertaken without sacrificing flavour.