Photo Gallery


Ivorian farmers split ripe pods. Courtesy of Nestle.

Ivorian farmers split ripe pods. Courtesy of Nestle.

An African woman sorts beans. Courtesy of Ray Major, The Hershey Company.

An African woman sorts beans. Courtesy of Ray Major, The Hershey Company.

Farmers in Indonesia. Courtesy of Ray Major, The Hershey Company.

Farmers in Indonesia. Courtesy of Ray Major, The Hershey Company.

A cacao farmer dries beans in Africa. Courtesy of World Cocoa Foundation.

A cacao farmer dries beans in Africa. Courtesy of World Cocoa Foundation.

Farmers transport cacao seedlings by boat in Vietnam. Courtesy of World Cocoa Foundation.

Farmers transport cacao seedlings by boat in Vietnam. Courtesy of World Cocoa Foundation.

The Tropics

The cacao tree, Theobroma Cacao, is a tropics-only kind of tree, and its growing range hugs the Equator.

Nearly all cacao grows within 20 degrees of the Equator, with 75 percent hailing from within 8 degrees of either side.

Cacao trees grow in three main regions:

  • West Africa
  • South and Central Americas
  • Southeast Asia and Oceania

Cacao trees grow only near the Equator. Courtesy of National Confectioners Association.

 

 

 

 

 

Top-producing cocoa countries include the following:

  1. Côte d'Ivoire / Ivory Coast
  2. Ghana
  3. Indonesia
  4. Nigeria
  5. Cameroon
  6. Brazil
  7. Ecuador
Chocolate is full of mysteries, and the cacao tree’s birthplace remains one of them.

While scientists agree the tree originated in South or Central America, the exact location eludes them. Some believe it first grew in the Amazon basin of Brazil. Other scientists point to the Orinoco Valley of Venezuela, while still others root for Central America.

Others propose an enigmatic tale and posit that the Olmecs, the first known people to eat cacao, brought the tree from their original homeland, and that this unknown location may have disappeared under the sea.