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jul 18, 2017

Brazil develops its 'chocolate routes'

 

Due to modern, sustainable techniques and a terrain like no other in the world, Brazil has risen to the top of the world's chocolate industry and produces some of the best cacao seeds in the world. It suffices to say that Alain Ducasse, one of the world's greatest chefs, uses Brazilian cacao in his chocolates.

In 2016, Brazil produced 152,000 tons of seeds. And as the Brazilian chocolate industry continues to develop, producers are investing heavily in offering chocolate-lovers a more immersive experience. As a result, the “chocolate route” is on the rise in Brazil.

A great example is the effort of producers in the region of Ilhéus, Bahia, immortalized by the literary masterpieces of Jorge Amado. In the 20th century, the area became known as "cacao land," and has preserved its status as the leading producer of cacao in Brazil.

However, the region was hit by severe plagues in the late 1980s and is just now recovering its prominence. In recent years, chocolates from Bahia have earned praise in France's prestigious Salon du Chocolat.

Now, producers have organized themselves to restore historical spots and revive the industry that inspired Jorge Amado.

Founded in 1536, Ilhéus is one of Brazil's oldest cities, and some of its districts still preserve the façades from colonial times. Some warehouses display the initials of the old "Cacao barons," as farm owners were known at the time.

"We want to internationalize the cacao culture, but also showcase the quality of our product to the world," explains Lucas Kruschewsky, the man behind the "chocolate route revival" project.

Ilhéus' circuit includes a complete tour of the cacao farms - from plantation to harvest, but also how the seeds become one of the world's most delicious sweets. Those with more time on their hands can also stretch the visit to neighboring towns like Canavieiras, Uruçu, and Itacaré.

Tourists will be amazed by the jaw-dropping landscape of the "Cacao Coast," one of the most beautiful in the world: from cascades to beaches to swamps, you can see it all.

 

Gramado

The Southern city of Gramado is one of the most famous chocolate-producing cities in Latin America. For those with a sweet tooth, it's the right place, as Gramado has over 30 chocolate factories. Most of them offer special free tours, allowing visitors to follow their artisanal production process step-by-step.

Chocolate is a serious business in Gramado, and the region is even investing in developing its own protected designation of origin. Not only must the product itself come from the Gramado area, but it also must contain higher quantities of cacao than average chocolate, thus increasing its quality.

In addition to a tour of the factories, visitors can enjoy Latin America's first-ever Chocolate Park. It is a sculpture gallery - and every work is made of chocolate. There are replicas of the White House, Mount Rushmore, and the Rio's Christ statue. Some are four meters tall, amounting to over 20 tons of chocolate in a single location! Unfortunately, though, you won't be allowed to take a bite.