Candy and Snack TODAY July/August 2014 : Page 55

COCOA SUSTAINABILITY continues: “John Scharffenberger presented this idea initially and now, several years later, there is a group of us dedicated to bringing this more expensive, higher-quality cocoa to the market. Almost four years into these efforts, the trees are productive and the financial rewards of bringing higher-quality cocoa to market are becoming evident. “We’re working with farmers in different countries on their post-harvest practices and on developing the flavors we want. We have flavor labs where they can taste the cocoa so they know what they’re working toward.” Ultimately, he says, by educating growers about fine flavor varieties and providing planting materials, they’ll embrace crop diversity and benefit economically. challenge posed by impending Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) stipulations regarding inspection, storage, processing and recordkeeping. Guittard however, is sanguine, and for good reason: The company recently achieved Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 2 certification and is working toward Level 3. IMPROVED SAFETY RAISES QUALITY Gary Guittard consults with Plant Manager Rich Terhell while on a tour of a farm in the Dominican Republic. “The FSMA is sort of an after-the-fact measure. It never gives you the To illustrate, Guittard notes that in the tools; it tells you where you need to be. SQF2 Dominican Republic, farmers harvest the cocoa, leapfrogs that,” he says, adding FSMA standards remove the pods, deliver it to the processing have been satisfied, if not exceeded at Guittard. facility and are paid immediately and well, “We had a lot of the SQF programs already stimulating an imperative to plant more. in place, although they weren’t necessarily fully Providing education, materials and documented. The process really helped us focus incentives to farmers is a huge investment for and brought us together as a team. That’s the manufacturers, whether through participation best part: The employees saw the result of a on committees or through boots-on-the-ground good, safe, quality product through getting the programs. How do they assess their involvement documentation,” Guittard explains. “We’ve in a sustainability program and decide whether always been super-conscientious. We have had to continue? “We are learning how to measure our own micropathology lab since the 1970s, results. The WCF has developed the CocoaMAP doing redundant testing and sampling of our to measure parameters for success and failure,” raw materials and in-process product as well as Guittard explains. the production environment. “Ultimately we have to rely on people’s “In addition, we had a great coach, a former creativity: It’s at the heart and soul of all that is employee, who knew our processes and our human,” he tells Candy & Snack TODAY . “If a operations. The whole certification process took program is endorsed by the culture, if it adapts about one year. That made us look ahead to and is accepted, it will flourish and thrive. If it Level 3.” doesn’t, it was the wrong program.” That doesn’t mean he’s indifferent to the Cocoa importers are facing a major plight of smaller manufacturers who might not test or be aware of pathogen issues addressed by FSMA requirements. “We all need to be more educated about what we’re doing,” he says. “There could be a learning curve ahead for small companies. Overall, the industry needs to meet and talk about it, and if we have issues, we need to do something about them.” As for the FDA, he says the agency needs to view chocolate as a unique (left to right) Guittard Chocolate Co. Director/Brand Manager Clark Guittard, commodity that has to be Marketing Manager Amy Guittard, a cocoa farmer from the Conacado handled in a specific way. cooperative in the Dominican Republic, Plant Manager Rich Terhell, President “If it is, it will be fine,” and Chairman Gary Guittard and Quality Control Manager Dave Ward he adds. CST during a visit to the cooperative. EMPOWERING THE FARMERS ‘The tide is moving, it’s rising, even if you can’t see it. People are really trying to figure out how to help the farmers.’ G ARY G UITTARD Guittard Chocolate Co. w w w . c a n d y a n d s n a ck t o d a y. c o m J u l y / A u g u s t 2 014 Candy & Snack TODA Y 55

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