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VacQPack and Organic Cocoa Beans

To maintain the quality and to enhance the shelf life of beans, VacQPack uses a modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) system allied with low pressure by vacuum at a regulated temperature. The VacqPack system can test and achieve organically compliant treatment for several types of beans. Experience worldwide and a portfolio of projects assures that an optimal technical approach can be reached.

The VacQPack system ensures cocoa preservation, fighting insect infestations and related moisture issues in bulk packaging. Cocoa preservation requires a specialized gas barrier liner, low pressure, controlled temperature (CA) and atmosphere (MAP). Furthermore it can use nitrogen (N2) in the majority of the cases, or carbon dioxide (CO2) in the case of identified infestation or cross contamination.

In addition, this preservation process works in a synergetic way, along with the cocoa beans’ natural fermentation while stored. The recognized phenomena of CO2 release by the cocoa beans will in fact help in fighting the insect infestation hazard.

VacQPack’s challenging experiences in cocoa preservation in the field are documented in case studies of Belgium traders. Extended storage of cocoa beans has proven to be achievable, overcoming the time barrier of 9 months. The beans’ quality was guaranteed even with packages being exposed to open air, suffering from sun exposure, rain, and heat. The VackQPack liner also proved to be insect and rodents resistant, due to its gas barrier.

A very interesting supply chain study on cocoa beans was recently conducted between VQP and a partner in Ecuador. The goal was to know all the expenses related to the conventional means of handling, storing, and transporting cocoa, then to compare it to the VacQPack system.

Theobroma cacao
Cocoa contains many vitamins and minerals as well as healthy doses of potassium and copper. In addition, it supports cardiovascular health, and contains iron, which transports oxygen through the body. Finally, calcium and magnesium are also found in cocoa beans.

All types of cocoa beans (Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario) are hygroscopic. Consequently they are prone to contamination by molds and insect infestations. Due to the moisture exchange between the beans and the atmosphere, there is the potential for infestation, mainly from the larvae of Cocoa Moth (Ephestia cautella) in warm tropic regions. In cooler tempered latitudes, cocoa may be attacked by the Warehouse Moth (Ephestia elutella).

The first symptom of damaged cocoa beans is a musty, unpleasant odor. Due to cocoa’s fat content, warm weather is risky, because of the potential for rancidity.

Disinfestation using chemical insecticides normally isn’t compliant with residue regulations. This presents the challenge of preventing consumer health risks and manufacturer/trader market depreciation in a natural way. Cocoa preservation using organically compliant treatment will help retain the sensorial origin attributes and extend product shelf life.