The cocoa tree can only be cultivated under certain climatic conditions. It grows in a small band spanning 20 degrees north and south of the equator, and needs good soil and sufficient water. In addition, it does not tolerate temperatures below 16°C.
As it relies on pollination by mosquitoes and small flies, it loves shadow and rotting foliage. The oldest cocoa-growing areas are in northern South America and Central America. Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador are seen as the original homeland of the cocoa plant, whose botanical name ‘Theobroma cacao’ literally translated means ‘food of the Gods’.
The main growing areas have now been relocated from Central America to West Africa and South East Asia. Around 70% of cocoa processed today comes from West Africa.