Charles Picque, the economy minister in Belgium, has announced a new labelling initiative that will sort out the “real chocolate” from the rest. In a bid to serve the interests of both European consumers and West African cocoa producers, only manufacturers who exclusively use cocoa butter fats will be able to label their produce with the special quality tag “ambao.”
Created in May, the state-sponsored “‘Traditional and Quality Chocolate Association” is promoting the tag, seeking to remedy the damage done to cocoa-producing countries’ economies following the decision by EU ministers in March this year, which forced member states to authorise the use of up to 5% fat substitutes in products labelled “chocolate.”
The government of Ivory Coast produced a white paper that estimated the effects of this directive, which was expected to result in a 20% fall in the world prices for cocoa beans and a decrease in demand by 150,000 tonnes. In addition to this the social impact is immeasurable because over 1.8m small farmers run subsistent farms for cocoa in West Africa.
It is hoped that with the Belgian adoption of the new “ambao” tag, European consumers will be making discerning choices in their chocolate purchases, preferring quality products and simultaneously circumventing an EU directive that could be disastrous for West African economies.