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Artisans struggle to keep up with holiday demand

Authors of Raising The Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate reveal why chocolate artisans won’t sacrifice quality for profit

raising the bar bookWhile chocolate flying around the room may seem like a dream come true to most consumers, the weeks leading up to December are more of a nightmare for chocolatiers trying to produce last-minute orders and ship the last of their products for the year.

Retail clients of these artisans often underestimate holiday sales and end up requesting last-minute shipments and overnight deliveries.

As difficult as it may be to turn out product under such pressure, fine chocolatiers are hard pressed to say no when a large portion of their yearly sales are made between the months of October and December thanks to gift-giving season.

In Raising The Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate, Parisian chocolate artist Patrick Roger reflects on how process is often not important to his customers during the holiday rush, only the chocolate is.

“At my shop in Sceaux, there are 700 customers a day at Christmas who are buying my little chocolates,” he says. “All the ingredients are listed, but this doesn’t mean anything to them. I have the refined palate that I pass on to them. I am the one who must guarantee the quality of my work.”

A disconnect exists between cocoa bean farmers, chocolate manufacturers and consumers purchasing the finished product — consumers do not see all the work being done from the ground up, and few consider the origin of the bean when eating chocolate.

Fine artisan chocolate products feature fresh ingredients and do not contain preservatives; therefore, their short shelf life often results in grueling hours for chocolatiers and distributors.

“Chocolatiers and chocolate makers in the fine chocolate industry are working overtime to keep up with demand as Christmas approaches,” says Pam Williams, president of Ecole Chocolate Professional School of Chocolate Arts and co-author of Raising the Bar. “Fine flavor manufacturers are selling to a generation that wants pleasure fast.”

This is one of the many challenges that the fine chocolate industry is currently facing, which Williams and her co-author Jim Eber are educating consumers about in their new book, Raising The Bar (Wilmor Publishing Corporation; October 2012), by documenting the global journey from cacao gene and cocoa bean to chocolate bar and bonbon.

The book looks at the future of the world's finest chocolate as seen through the eyes of people who live chocolate every day and strive to preserve its richest, most complex and endangered forms for future generations.

In order to convey the reality that the best tasting chocolates in the world are poised for extinction, Williams’s and Eber’s book explains the merits of fine chocolate products and the specific processes necessary to achieve these delicious treats that are in such high demand around the holidays.

Raising The Bar serves as the voice of the conscientious chocolate makers around the world and helps readers discern the true chocolate artisans.

“Consumers must understand the amount of work that goes into producing quality cocoa if it is to survive in the future,” says Williams.

Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate (Wilmor Publishing Corporation; October 2012; Hardcover; $19.95; eBook; $9.95; ISBN: 978-0-9691921-2-1 (Print); 978-0-9691921-3-8 (eBook).

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