Chocolate Ancestry

Does your late-night chocolate fix have a pedigree?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The global cocoa industry is worth about eighty BILLION dollars worldwide! And ninety percent of the world’s chocolate comes from remote areas in tropical countries. This can make it hard to enforce fair trade and sustainable practices.

Never fear! Pedro Lafargue from the University of West England and team are here! They’ve developed a method for tracing chocolate origin — based on its DNA!

The cocoa plant’s DNA is in its beans AND in the chocolate made from them. The researchers obtained samples of chocolate of known origins to create a DNA library. They designed a tool to track and trace chocolate origins using this information. Then, they used commercially available chocolate to test the tool. 

Each farm’s local environment is unique. This makes the plant DNA one-of-a kind! Scientists can create a database of samples to make tracking easy. It’s like Ancestry-dot-com – for chocolate!

I wonder if MY holiday chocolate was descended from royalty? Delicious either way!  

Reference: Lafargue, P., Rogerson, M., Parry, G. C., & Allainguillaume, J. (2021). Broken chocolate: Biomarkers as a method for delivering cocoa supply chain visibility. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print).