Cocoa beans are the primary ingredient of chocolate. in fact, it is cocoa beans that provide a bar of chocolate, the “chocolate” flavor. Thus having the right quantity and quality of cocoa beans at the right time is of critical importance to a chocolate maker.
Cocoa grows in plantations. That means that once planted, mature cocoa trees give cocoa once or multiple times every year. It is unlike wheat or maize which can be harvested just once and the plant needs to be replanted.
Cocoa grows almost exclusively within 20 degrees north and south of equator. But a majority of cocoa is consumed in outside this zone which means that almost all of the cocoa crop needs to be transported outside the country it is grown in. this involves a lot of logistics.
So let us answer the question – where can one buy cocoa beans from? The answer to that question depends on the amount of cocoa beans that one needs.
If you want to buy a few hundred metric tons of cocoa beans
If you are a medium sized chocolate maker, and you need a couple of hundred metric tons of cocoa every year, you are better off buying it from bulk cocoa bean suppliers. They are big companies which maintain an origin presence and export cocoa by the container load. This can be the most economical method of buying cocoa.
But while buying cocoa like this, you need to be careful of the quality, quantity, time and place of delivery. It is the best to deal with companies that have a good reputation in the market for honoring the contract that they enter. Since cocoa prices fluctuate a lot, an adverse move in the price of cocoa may mean that your supplier is no longer interested in honoring the contract she has made with you if she is not properly hedged. The probability of this happening remains lower with reputed companies and higher with speculators who bet on the price movement of cocoa to make profit, instead of the efficiency of their operations.
You also need to be sure of the quality of the cocoa that you will get. Since cocoa has many quality parameters, it is critical to ensure that all the quality parameters are mutually agreed and are a part of a written contract. Dealing with counter-parties that are the members of Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC) ensures that in case of dispute, you can seek arbitration with FCC instead of going the expensive legal route.
You want less than 25 metric tons to a few hundred kilograms of cocoa beans
You are a big enough chocolate maker to have a recognition and following in your area. But not so big yet that you need more than 25 metric tons of cocoa beans in one go. You would rather order cocoa beans in batches of a few hundred kilograms to at most a couple of metric tons.
In such a case, you might want to find cocoa distributors who can service your need. These companies import cocoa beans (and often cocoa products like cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa powder etc) in bulk. They then sell these cocoa beans or products in smaller quantities. They are the wholesalers of the world of cocoa.
You should look to buy from reputed distributors of cocoa beans. Be careful that the batch of cocoa you are buying meets all the quality parameters that you want. It is always helpful to develop an ongoing relationship with one or two distributors so that the quantity and quality of your cocoa is assured.
A few kilograms of cocoa beans is all that you need
If all you are seeking is a few kilograms of cocoa beans, you are better off ordering the beans online. You can find cocoa beans suppliers on www.findcocoa.com who will home deliver the required quantity to you. In fact, it is possible to order a few kilograms of cocoa directly from some origin countries. Just that, the delivery cost might be a higher in this case.
If you want samples for a larger order later, it is the best to contact suppliers directly from the origin country. It will be much easier for you if you agree to pay the delivery cost of the beans upfront. You can look for cocoa bean suppliers on the biggest directory of the cocoa and chocolate industry.