Guido Gobino is currently one of the most interesting chocolatiers working in artisanal chocolate production in Italy and indeed the world. The careful selection of the best ingredients, meticulous control of the entire production chain, the hunt for new flavors that still respect tradition, cutting-edge technology and the attention to packaging design are just some of the elements that characterize Gobino's production.
A long-time friend of Slow Food, Guido Gobino has been moving closer to the association, ever since-with Terra Madre and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity-it shifted its priority to agriculture and began working all over the world, including with hundreds of small-scale cacao producers in Latin America. In the year his business celebrates 50 years of family management, Gobino has decided to forge an alliance with the Slow Food Presidia and start using cacao from Chontalpa, in Mexico, for a dedicated line of chocolate.
The collaboration with the Latin American Presidium fits in with company's constant quest for cacao of the highest quality. In October 2014, Guido Gobino will officially present Chontalpa, the name of the one of the five regions in Tabasco state, known for its cacao production, and now also the name of the line of chocolate made with cacao from Slow Food Chontalpa Cacao Presidium. The collaboration is currently about to become a concrete reality: 25 Presidium producers are finishing up the harvest, while on the other side of the ocean, in Italy, Gobino is refining the recipes prior to production starting. Cacao is a natural product, subject to weather conditions and seasonal and natural rhythms. Only an artisan able to process chocolate from the raw material, the cacao pods, can best convey the characteristics of the Presidium's pods in the finished chocolate.
"The future of small farms is closely linked to the success of the crops on which they depend," says Guido Gobino. "For us, this is an opportunity to move towards objectives of sustainability and direct collaboration with the producers, to improve their working conditions and guarantee an ever-better quality for our chocolate." The partnership with Slow Food has various aims: to work closely in contact with the producers and help them to improve the quality of their cacao pods; to have them participate in the development of the project and guarantee them a fair income, thanks to the elimination of middlemen; to design sustainable packaging made using by-products from sugarcane processing, no glue and natural dyes; and to develop transparent information for the consumer using the narrative label.
The project has also been started to raise the profile of Chontalpa, recognized as the birthplace of criollo cacao, the rarest and most prized variety, renowned around the world. The state of Tabasco is Mexico's leading cacao producer: 67% of its surface area is dedicated to the crop and it is responsible for around 80% of national production. Though cacao is central to the lives of Chontalpa's small-scale farmers, every day they must struggle against a hostile economic and commercial system. Their difficulty in accessing credit and distance from the national market make it very hard for them to receive technical assistance, solve plant disease problems, process the cacao with suitable machinery and technology and produce a semi-processed product that would guarantee them an income proportionate to their efforts. The producers only have access to the local market, where middlemen impose their own often unfavorable prices. It becomes impossible to translate the actual quality of the raw material into market value.
Gobino is committed to buying cacao directly from the small-scale Presidium producers and supporting them by paying a fair price, which goes entirely to the producers, without any middlemen taking a cut. The chocolate will be made following a production protocol drawn up by the producers and Slow Food, and will be the first to bear the Slow Food Presidium brand: truly a good, clean and fair chocolate.
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Over the next few weeks you'll be able to discover the journey the cacao pods make from Mexico to Turin!
Chontalpa by Guido Gobino, made with Presidium cacao, will be on sale from September 2014 and will be officially presented at the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2014 (Turin, October 25-29).
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