CECAO is Dedicated to Excellence in Ecuador

CECAO is Dedicated to Excellence in Ecuador

In 2022 after spending some time in Ecuador learning about the premium cacao production from growers and association team leaders, we began offering Ecuadorian cacao. This is in partnership with CECAO - Compañia Exportadora de Cacao de Aroma y Organico - an Organic, Fair for Life certified cacao buyer in Ecuador. Producing 2,200 tons of cacao annually, buying from 10 associations who manage a farmer network of 1,800 producers.  CECAO is committed to paying farmers fair prices, improving cacao productivity, maintaining high quality and consistency, at high volumes.  They take a business-forward approach and reinvest their profits in projects to expand their own reach.


Working Together for Excellence

The 10 associations that CECAO works with are spread out in different regions in south central Ecuador and are all independently owned, managed and operated.   Each association has their own managers who are responsible for traceability, farmer network and relations, buying, and post harvest.  Each association has its own central facility for fermentation and drying.  Each one of the associations follows the same post-harvest protocol as means to achieve consistency.

Grower Spotlight - Vitaliano Saravia Fajardo

From the Guayas zone, he is 80 years old and was the first producer of the Thomas association, which started in 2003.  He formed the association almost 20 years ago.  He has been working in cacao his whole life, his father was also a cacao farmer.  One of his sons works on the farm with him. 

Vitaliano is a leader in the community and of the Thomas association. His 10 hectare farm is also used as a demonstration farm to show visitors and for farmer trainings and produces an average of 12 quintals per acre throughout the harvest. 

Exceptional Quality Control

There are 2 primary quality control points in the operation.  The associations evaluate the quality of the baba at the time of buying.  It gets placed in the fermentation boxes the same day.  CECAO also does physical and sensory evaluations of every lot they bring to their warehouse.  They have a roaster, melanger, and refrigerator full of liquors at their main office. 

Engaging with Biodiversity

Cacao farming in Ecuador has traditionally relied on intensive monoculture practices that focus on maximizing productivity, with little regard to environmental sustainability or cacao flavor.  This leads to negative impacts on soil health and biodiversity, leaving farmers vulnerable to climate change and market volatility. 

CECAO offers varieties of cacao nacional, along with fruit trees from their nurseries, teach grafting methods, and provide a micro-organismal solution that is 100% organic for fertilization.  While cacao remains the primary crop focus for many producers, we saw a diversity of crops including bananas, oranges, mandarins, jackfruit, and coffee!


Grower Spotlight- Estella Dutan Barerra


Estella is 76 years old and has been on her cacao farm for 4 years.  Her farm was entirely a CCN farm when she took it over 4 years ago.  Since then, she has been transitioning from CCN to national varieties.  She has been putting in grafted “inhertos” in the existing trees, and removing the CCN when the inherto takes. 

The association and foundation have been really helpful in teaching her the methods and helping her with the process.  She prefers working with Progreso and national varieties instead of other buyers because they always pay her right at the time of selling.

LAVOR PROFILE; Honeysuckle, Dark Chocolate, Lemon

Each producer is assigned a code and receives a card.  All of the transaction history is help in a folder that is specific to each farmer.  CECAO works with the associations to map out each farmer’s plot with GPS, so they have complete digital mapping of where each farm is located.  Additionally, each farm gets their cacao registered with CECAO as cacao nacional.  The associations and CECEO do not buy any CCN-51, so all of their cacao is organic certified and cacao nacional certified.



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