The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) on Monday opened a series of high-level discussions in Guayaquil, Ecuador, to focus on two major issues for the global chocolate and cocoa sector: cocoa flavor and quality.

Cocoa producers, researchers, industry executives, government officials, and civil society organizations, gather to participate in these talks. The discussions will explore how chocolate manufacturing is influenced by cocoa quality standards, direct sourcing and the mapping of cocoa flavor characteristics.

These annual talks, which took place in El Salvador last year and Colombia the year prior, rotate through Latin America and aim to help the region's cocoa sector develop sustainably.

“Fine flavor cocoa and quality are important issues for WCF and its member companies in the region, and we are proud to be convening a diverse group of stakeholders in the region to have these discussions,” says Richard Scobey, president, WCF. “Ecuador, and Latin America in general, play an important role in the global cocoa supply chain, and we want to ensure the region’s cocoa sector continues to grow sustainably.”

To that end, WCF's activities in Latin America emphasize research, environmental concerns, modernization, flavor and quality. It also provides support for regional research programs that address disease resistance and the maintenance of unique cocoa collections in Costa Rica and Trinidad.

In addition, WCF has also begun work on tackling climate change, which is a growing concern for cocoa farmers in Latin America. By working with public and private sector partners, WCF hopes to develop strategies to help farmers confront and adapt to changing weather patterns.