All you need to know about Brazilian cocoa exports

Did you know that Brazil is one of the largest cocoa producers in the world? It is incredible how it has become increasingly important for the country’s economy. If you are passionate about chocolate or simply want to understand more about this process, this text is dedicated to you!

In this article, we promise to explore everything you need to know about the export of Brazilian cocoa, from production to the arrival at its final destination. You’ll learn about the two most commonly used varieties of cocoa, as well as about the export certifications and regulations procedures. In addition, we will show you how the cocoa industry has been a major source of income for the Brazilian economy.

Cocoa export has been a significant source of income for the Brazilian economy. In addition, the cocoa industry also generates direct and indirect jobs for thousands of people in the country. However, for cocoa exports to continue growing and remain competitive in the international market, it is substantial that producers and exporters know the details and nuances of the process.

In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about exporting Brazilian cocoa, ranging from the choice of cocoa varieties to the logistics of shipping the beans to their destination.

Cocoa production in Brazil

Cocoa production in Brazil began in the 17th century, when slaves were brought from Africa to work on the farms. Since then, the country has become one of the largest cocoa producers, with an annual harvest of more than 400,000 tons.

Most of the cocoa production in Brazil takes place in the Northeast region, especially in the states of Bahia, Pernambuco and Alagoas, where most of the producers are small farmers. The choice of those territories is due to the hot and humid climate, which is ideal for the cultivation of this product.

Brazilian cocoa’s quality is highly valued due to its unique characteristics, such as its distinct flavor and aroma. In addition, its local production is done in a sustainable way, which has become substantial for international buyers.

The Export Process

After the harvest, the cocoa is sent to the shelling factories where it is transformed into shelled beans, ready to be exported. During the shelling process, the cocoa is cleaned and separated from the husks to ensure its quality and prepare it for the next step: processing.

Brazil is the main exporter of cocoa in the planet, and its main destinations are some countries in Europe, North America and Asia. Before being exported, the cocoa is submitted to rigorous quality controls, including flavor, aroma and color analysis. Such control is carried out to ensure that the product meets international requirements standards and its safety for consumption.

In addition, the cocoa also undergoes government inspections to guarantee every regulatory requirement. Those are key inspections to ensure the goals for quality and safety, as well as to protect the interest of international buyers and Brazil itself.

After passing all the quality checks, the cocoa is packed and shipped to its destination. Cocoa exports are a considerable part of the Brazilian economy and play a key role in generating income and employment. With global demand for cocoa increasing, its export is an important opportunity for Brazil to take advantage of and increase its presence within the international market.


Once the cocoa is packed and approved for export, it is sent to its destination, where it will be transformed into a final product, such as chocolate, and so on.

In Europe, France, Germany and Switzerland, are Brazilian cocoa’s main export destinations. The United States are also huge buyers, as well as Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea.

Benefits of cocoa exports for the Brazilian economy

The cocoa industry has become a significant source of income for the Brazilian economy, providing a positive impact on both employment generation and the country’s economic growth, since Brazil is recognized as one of the largest producers of cocoa in the world.

The global demand for cocoa has increased considerably, thus making its export a great opportunity for the country to strengthen its presence in the international market and contribute even more to its economy. In addition, the cocoa industry is also responsible for providing jobs for a large amount of people, especially in the countryside regions, where most of the cocoa farms are located.

Certifications and regulations for cocoa exports

Before being exported, Brazilian cocoa must pass through a series of inspections and regulations that are usually established by the government and international organizations. They serve to ascertain the quality and safety of the product and also the international buyers’ demands.

Among the most common certifications for cocoa exports, an organic certification, to guarantee a non-agrochemical production and a fair-trade certification, to value ethical practices during the production and marketing process, need to be mentioned. In addition, there are sanitary and phytosanitary regulations that must be followed to ensure the safety of the food and prevent the spread of diseases.

The certifications and approvals of cocoa for export are made by various agencies, such as the Brazilian Agricultural Sanitary Defense Agency, which is responsible for verifying the compliance of agricultural products with the established sanitary and phytosanitary standards, including the export of cocoa. Besides, there is the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), also responsible for monitoring the quality of agricultural products for export.

Cocoa varieties and their relevance regarding exportation

Along the industry, two main varieties of cocoa are usually considered: Forastero and Criollo. The Forastero is the most widely cultivated variety, known for its high yield and resistance to pests and diseases. Meanwhile, Criollo is considered the finest for its flavor and aroma complexity.

In Brazil, most of the cocoa production involves forastero cocoa, but the criollo can also be found, especially in the Northern region of the country. It is ideal to know the characteristics of each variety and choose the one that meets the demands of buyers along the international market.

Buyers look for specific cocoa varieties depending on the use, for example, the chocolate industry values the criollo species and the pharmaceutical industry looks for the forastero. The climatic and geographical conditions of the production region also influence the quality of the cocoa.

Cocoa production and processing

After the fruits are harvested, the cocoa beans undergo a fermentation and drying process before being packed and shipped for export.

The fermentation process is crucial to the final quality of the cocoa, since it is at this specific moment that the beans acquire their characteristic flavor and aroma. Therefore, it is important that the fermentation process is carried out correctly, and thus guarantee the quality of the cocoa beans that is destined for export.


For the reasons already mentioned, we may easily verify how fundamental to the Brazilian economy the export of cocoa is, since it provides an important source of income and contributes to the economic growth of the country. Moreover, with the growing global demand for cocoa, Brazil has the chance to expand its presence in the international market and stand out as a key player in the industry. With that, the cocoa industry also has a positive impact on society, by generating jobs and contributing to local development.