WASHINGTON, March 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprungli are providing a financial gift to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service's Sustainable Perennial Crops Laboratory (SPCL) to support genetics research on fine-flavor cocoa varieties found in Ecuador. The research may help ensure long term supply of cocoa and chocolate products that contain prized flavor attributes.
WCF President Bill Guyton said, "We are proud to partner with Lindt & Sprungli to support USDA's research in Ecuador. By better understanding the diversity of Ecuadorian cocoa, we are positioned to maintain production of distinctive cocoa varieties, while helping farmers to benefit from increased yields."
SPCL's research is focused on understanding the genetic diversity of Ecuador's Nacional type cocoa varieties and how they differ from other varieties grown throughout South America and the Caribbean. In collaboration with the Ecuadorian National Agricultural Research Institute (INIAP), SPCL is establishing genetic profiles for all traditional cocoa varieties in Ecuador, while focusing on "Arriba cocoa."
Genetic diversity within and among these traditional cacao types is being assessed using tools of spatial genetics and genomics. The research findings will be used to develop mechanisms promoting the conservation of traditional varieties and will work to verify the quality of Nacional beans reaching the market place. By exploring on-farm diversity in Ecuador, the research will also strengthen INIAP's effort in selecting high yielding and disease-resistant Nacional varieties.
More than 100,000 Ecuadorean families are active in the cultivation of cocoa trees. The country exports approximately 65 percent of the global supply of fine-flavor cocoa. The varieties of cocoa found in Ecuador are prized for their unique floral flavors.
The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) is an international membership foundation that promotes a sustainable cocoa economy. For more information, visit www.worldcocoa.org.
About Lindt & Sprungli
Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprungli AG is the worldwide leader in the premium chocolate segment and was founded over 165 years ago in Zurich, Switzerland. Lindt & Sprungli quality chocolate is manufactured in eight production facilities in Europe and the USA and sold in more than 120 countries worldwide. The Lindt & Sprungli Group employs around 8,200 people and achieved sales of $3.4 billion in 2012.
SOURCE World Cocoa Foundation