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The Arriba Nacional Denomination of Origin in Ecuador

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					A truly valid definition of the Arriba Nacional term when applied to
Ecuadorian cacao, or simply the Arriba name, includes Nacional beans
sourced in parts of the Province of Guayas, the Province of Los RÃ-os and
a small fraction of the Province of BolÃ-var. Ecuador historically
produced fine flavor cacao from many other areas which were all Nacional
beans but marketed under distinct names, including Bahia-from the area
around Bahia de Caraquez, not to be confused with Bahia, Brazil; Balao
from Southern Guayas and the coastal areas of Azuay and Cañar; and Cacao
Machala from the Southernmost part of the country.Erroneously, around
2006 Ecuador's Institute of Intellectual Protection (Instituto
Ecuatoriano de Propiedad Intelectual, IEPI in Spanish), which is
responsible for trademarks and other intellectual property rights,
published and approved an "Arriba" Protected Denomination of Origin that
is restricted to (or rather, erroneously, covers all) beans of the
Nacional variety. In effect, this means that any chocolate made from
Nacional beans grown anywhere in Ecuador can be called Arriba-which is a
major deviation from the original historical definition of the
term."Arriba" has now come into use by chocolate manufacturers both
inside and outside Ecuador, and has largely lost its significance; an
ironic parallel given that the "Arriba" flavor has also become
increasingly diluted, ambiguous, and unknown due to historical factors
including the loss of pure Nacional trees, genetic erosion, the
introduction and mixing of CCN-51 and Nacional beans, and numerous other
factors. As far as I know, there is little to no enforcement of this PDO
by any agency or authority.Other factors contributing to the historical
Arriba flavor profile have also been lost in the shrouds of history; one
interesting example is the origin and type of the wood used for
fermentation boxes, which is said to contribute to the final chocolate
flavor. Anecdotally, there is supposed mention in original historical
documents written in French found in Vinces, Ecuador (a.k.a. "Little
Paris" during Ecuador's cacao boom in the early part of the 20th century
due to the number of french inhabitants and wealth found there), that the
wood comes from Ecuador's highlands-but no one has been able to determine
what kind of wood was used that helped contribute to the original Arriba
flavor (conversation with Cristian Melo, Sep 2011).Renewing and restoring
the original "Arriba" bean and its flavor profile to its former glory is
a herculean task, and while efforts are under way, they are still only in
their infancy. Unfortunately, the major players who have the power and
money to push the movement forward are not doing a lot. And the minor
players are more often than not opting for ambiguity over transparency,
both in their marketing and sourcing, which ultimately benefits no one. I
see the issue as one similar to "peak oil." Will we run out of the oil we
need to develop the technologies to maintain and enhance our standard of
living before those technologies are here? Will we build them while we
have the oil to do so? Or will we simply conduct business as usual until
the oil is almost gone, then struggle for a solution? It's the same with
the Arriba Nacional flavor profile, as well as the Nacional variety of
cacao in Ecuador. Will it disappear before adequate efforts are made to
save it, or will industry, government, and the private sector act now,
before it's too late, to keep Arriba Nacional and Nacional beans on the
map?

				
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