Interview with Stephanie Daniels


During my research on cocoa in Nicaragua, I was referred by Professor Moody to speak with his friend, Stephanie Daniels, who works at the Sustainable Food Lab in Vermont. I had an opportunity to speak with her over the phone to ask questions about cocoa production around the world. Luckily for me, Stephanie is a specialist in fine cocoa and has done research on cocoa in high value markets.

In our conversation, Stephanie explained to me that cocoa is extremely capital intensive and no longer requires a lot of labor. Large and expensive machinery takes care for most of the work in chocolate production.

She says that it is important for chocolate producers to connect with its targeted market. Some markets are inundated by large corporate producers while others primarily consist of small and gritty artisan producers. Marketing chocolate as a treat is critical in some markets and not as important in others.

Stephanie also explained that a products packaging and how it connects to people is rather important. Some chocolate producers have focused on creating a “mission” with its chocolate and using its creative packaging to gain consumers. Other chocolate producers are making retail shops that create a full immersion and creates a complete experience for the consumer, aside from just eating the chocolate. Many successful companies in Latin America have profited off of tourism and have made chocolate an experience rather than just a piece of candy.

Stephanie provided me with additional resources including her own paper, “Reaching High-Value Markets: fine flavor cocoa in Ghana”. Her paper goes through the fine cocoa market in the context of Ghana and lists ways of improvement for the country to profit more off of its cocoa production.

My talk with Stephanie definitely helped steer me in the right direction in terms of research and has opened my eyes on the intricacies of he chocolate and cocoa industries around the world.

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