Who We Are
The Mercado do Cacau website arose from the need to enable the use of the Internet to spread the practices of agribusiness and transactions directly linked to the cocoa market. We are the only website in the country that discusses in detail the issues related to cocoa.
One justification for our existence was the fact that, even with the passing of the years, all business processes were still the same, and so we decided to innovate business procedures of cocoa, seeking to provide interactivity between buyers and sellers through our website, in addition to providing various daily updated information inherent to business, giving support to all chain involved in the industry.
Articles from expert authors, real-time quotes of internal and external market prices; links to other specialized pages on the subject and access to new technologies of production are some of the issues explored here. It is important to remember that we pioneered launching this website with Web TV format - a junction of the tools used on TV and the Internet - in January 2010, giving rise to the TV market.
With a qualified team, the Mercado do Cacau won a loyal and also very participative audience, which has always tried to give suggestions of copy and commenting issues discussed here. And this is the reason of our existence: serve a segmented audience, hungry for qualified information!
History of cocoa
Cocoa is a word that derives from the term “Kakaw”, of Mayan origin. According to some scholars, the word can be translated as "bitter juice", but in essence “Kakaw” is a phoneme and was used to refer to cocoa tree.
The researchers found in some Mexican ceramic pots the phoneme "ka", which was represented by the stylized shape of a fish, marked with two dots to indicate that the phoneme was repeated twice.
No one knows for sure who the first people to cultivate the fruit were, but history tells that the Aztecs in Mexico and the Maya in Central America were the first people to cultivate cocoa. But it is also said that even before the first Spanish settlers arrived in America, the cocoa was already cultivated by the Indians.
According to historians, the cocoa tree, also called cacahualt, was considered sacred by the people. This is because the prophet Quatzalcault taught the Aztecs how to cultivate the species, both for food and for beautifying the gardens of the city of Talzitapec in Mexico. And all cultivation was accompanied by solemn religious ceremonies.
In 1758, the Swedish botanist Carlos Linneo called the plant by Theobroma cacao L, which means “food of the gods”. Maybe inspired by all the symbolism surrounding the cultivation of cocoa.
The cocoa beans were considered so valuable that they were used as currency. They used the Aztec vigesimal system. There were specific names, such as the countles consisting of 400 cocoa beans, the xiquipil consisting of twenty countless (8.000 beans). The emperor Montezuma usually receives annually 200 xiquipiles (1.6 million beans) as a tribute of the city of Tabasco, which today corresponds to something about 30 bags of 60Kg.
It is said that a good slave could be exchanged for 100 beans at the time. Peter Martyr from Algeria wrote in 1530, yet about the use of cacao as currency, in the book DE OURBE NOVO PETRI MARTYRES AB ALGERIA: “Blessed money, which provides a sweet drink and is a benefit for mankind, protecting their owners against the infernal plague of greediness, because it cannot be accumulated for a long time, nor hidden underground.”
The Golden Fruit
A cocoa tree has long leaves that are born reddish and soon turn in to a deep green, measuring up to 30cm. Its fruits can also measure up to 30cm long, with greenish, brownish or reddish colors that tend to yellow when ripe. Within the fruit is found 20 to 50 beans coated with a white and sweet flesh and fixed to a placenta of the same type. A cocoa flower has five petals and is pollinated by small insects, throughout the year. Between pollination and fruit ripening elapse about 180 days.
Botanists believe that cocoa originated from the headwaters of the Amazonas River, and expanded in two main directions, giving rise to three major groups: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario.
Criollo: The word means “Hispano-American native” in Spanish and was the first variety cultivated in the territories where Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico are located today, called by the people of Mesoamerica (Olmecs, Mayas, Toltecs and Aztecs) and also cultivated in Central America and northern South America. Their almonds are large and light coloring or rosaceous, low acidity and slightly bitter taste. It was considered the noblest of cocoa varieties, but it is not very productive and very susceptible to diseases. It currently accounts for about 5% of world cocoa production.
Forastero: Is cocoa which comes from the Amazon basin. It has flattened violet almonds, of medium acidity. It is considered productive and disease resistant. It currently accounts for about 80% of world production, and is cultivated mainly in Africa and Brazil. It has melon-shaped fruits and some subspecies produce excellent quality cocoa.
Trinity: It is a hybrid cocoa which resulted from the intersection of two other varieties, bringing together features of both. It was created in Trinidad after 1727, when Criollo cacao plantations were destroyed by cyclones and storms. Thirty years later, the Capuchin monks have brought and planted seedlings of Forastero, which ended up crossing with remnants of Criollo. It has excellent quality, and answers today for about 15% of world production.
The Arrival in Brazil
Cocoa has been gaining economic importance with the expansion of chocolate consumption, and because of that several attempts were made in order to implement the cocoa crop in other regions with climate and soil similar to the original. And so, the seeds were gradually spreading throughout the world.
In the mid-eighteenth century, cocoa had reached the South of Bahia, and in the second half of the nineteenth century, was led to Africa. Officially, cacao cultivation began in Brazil in 1679 by Royal Charter which authorized the settlers to plant it in their lands.
Antonio Dias Ribeiro, in 1746, received some cocoa beans, the melon-shape Forastero type from the French settler Luiz Frederico Warneau, from Pará, and introduced in Bahia. The first planting was done in the state in the Cubicle farm, on the banks of river Pardo, the current city of Canavieiras. Only in 1752 plantations were made in the city of Ilhéus.
Cocoa has adapted to the climate and soil of southern Bahia and the region now produces 95% of Brazilian cocoa, Espírito Santo produces 3.5% and 1.5% is cultivated in Amazônia. Brazil is the 5th cocoa producer in the world, alongside Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. In 1979/80, the Brazilian cacao production exceeded 310,000 tons.
About 90% of all Brazilian cocoa is exported, generating foreign exchange for the country. In the period 1975/1980, cocoa generated 3 billion 618 million dollars.
Beyond the Chocolate
There is no doubt that cocoa reminds chocolate, always been like that, since the Aztecs, who in their religious ceremonies included the Chocolate. Cacao has always been cultivated to enjoy only the seeds of its fruits, which are the raw material of the chocolate industry. But the fruit of the cocoa tree is possible to extract other byproducts, as common industrialization juice cocoa, from the extraction of the pulp.
The cocoa juice has a very characteristic flavor, considered exotic and very pleasant to the taste, resembling other tropical fruit juice. It is fibrous and rich in sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) and also in pectin. Some of the substances that compose the cocoa juice confer a high viscosity and pasty appearance.