What Is The Ecuador Cocoa Boom?

The booming cocoa of the Ecuador refers to an era where high demand for cocoa to Ecuador became the first cocoa exporter in the world. This time occurred between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. During this period the Ecuadorian export economy had significant growth.

Since 1870, cocoa production in the coastal and highlands began to increase very quickly. This produced a surplus that began to be exported and generated a profit surplus never seen before by local farmers.

The cocoa boom in Ecuador

Cocoa is almost automatically associated with chocolate, although it is one of its main uses, it is also useful in the production of butter, hygiene and beauty products, as well as other varieties of food and chocolate drinks.

The soil of the coastal regions of Ecuador is incredibly fertile, and added to a very constant climate (where there are no 4 seasons), the Ecuadorian lands allow the cultivation of cocoa and other agricultural products throughout the year.

In the latter part of the 19th century, the good climatic conditions of the Ecuadorian coast and mountains began to be exploited to obtain cocoa.

Small farmers quickly realized that they could easily harvest the product for excellent profit margins.

With the arrival of the 20th century, Ecuador became the largest producer of cocoa worldwide, exporting its product mainly to Europe, Japan and the United States.

The cocoa grown in the mountains was destined for local consumption, while that obtained in the coastal zone was exported.

Benefits of the cocoa boom

Noting the great work done by small farmers and peasants, the Ecuadorian government decided to further promote the cocoa industry by granting numerous low-interest credits and lowering taxes on exports.

The infrastructure of the cities where cocoa was produced and exported notably improved, as well as their economy.

The generation of jobs began to attract more and more producers eager to enter the cocoa business.

Negative consequences

However, the cocoa boom in Ecuador also brought some negative consequences.

Seeing the potential of the land for cultivation, landowners emerged  who controlled vast amounts of land, making the small farmer disappear, who had no choice but to become a worker.

While the workers were exploited, the large producers amassed huge amounts of money that were never reinvested in Ecuador, but destined for investments in foreign countries.

The arrival of the First World War in 1914 greatly lowered the demand for cocoa in Europe. In addition, several British colonies in Africa began to produce cocoa at a very low price, which ended up bankrupting Ecuadorian producers.

Current situation

Despite having suffered serious drops in production, demand for cocoa finally rose again.

Again the small farmers began to grow the product in a more organized way. Ecuador is currently the largest supplier of fine cocoa in the world.


1. Cocoa Boom (June 17, 2012). Retrieved on October 31, 2017, from Auge Cacaotero.
2. Elia Arcas (nd). Uses and properties of cocoa. Retrieved on October 31, 2017, from En Buenas Manos.
3. National cocoa export statistics (nd). Retrieved on October 31, 2017, from Anecao.
4. Galo Ramón Valarezo, Víctor Hugo Torres (2004). Local development in Ecuador.
5. Ariel Herrera (May 11, 2016). Ecuador’s economy in the 19th century. Retrieved on October 31, 2017, from Economic History of Ecuador.

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