Chocolate has far reaching consequences. It all starts with the cacao tree. The general rule is to stay within 20 degrees north and south of the equator for ideal climate. Seventy percent of the world's cacao is grown in West Africa, and the overall amount produced is increasing yearly to keep up with growing global demand. The world map below is an interpretation of global cacao production data (in tons) released by FAOSTAT dating back to 1961.
...changing in America.
Over the last 6 years, the United States has become home to dozens of new bean-to-bar chocolate makers (also known as craft chocolate). These are the small producers (less than 250 tons annually) that are pushing the envelope of what chocolate can be; reintroducing and redefining a flavor that has been dominated by large producers such as Hershey's and Cadbury. Craft chocolate makers are taking root along the West Coast and in the Northeast, but also making homes in regions throughout the United States. The interactive map below is based off of data independently gathered from chocolate makers by Bar & Bean, and presents the growing influence of craft chocolate in America. All numbers are those reported by individual makers.
...becoming chocolate again.
Mass-market chocolate represents a series of trade-offs for low-cost, yield, and consistency. As a result, the bare minimum mark is met to classify a product as chocolate. The FDA mandates that milk chocolate need only be 10% actual chocolate. The consequence is hardly much chocolate at all. Craft chocolate makers are far exceeding FDA minimum standards in a pursuit of flavor. The visual comparison above is an artistic interpretation of the breakdown of Hershey's milk chocolate versus a Craft milk chocolate, respectively (dark chocolates have a much higher percentage of cacao).
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