Peru is South America's third largest country and is situated in the western part of the continent. In the north it shares a border with Colombia and Ecuador. It borders with Brazil and Bolivia in the east and with Chile in the south. The west coast of Peru stretches along the Pacific Ocean. ForestFinance cocoa forests are located in the San Martín region (Peruvian Andes), a province in the northeastern part of the country.
Rich river valleys and a comparatively minor annual rainfall of usually less than 1,500 millimetres make San Martín the ideal location for cocoa farming. The deep, fertile soils are important for healthy and highly productive cocoa forests. The rather low rainfalls also make for a low humidity level. This protects the trees from aggressive fungal diseases that pose the greatest threat to cocoa harvests worldwide.
Only few countries are recognised as valid producers of fine cocoa by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). For many years, Peru has been one of these countries. However, the ICCO does not lay down any universal criteria which specifically define cocoa as fine cocoa. Nonetheless, the most relevant characteristics of fine cocoa are the genetic origin of seeds, the morphological properties of the plant as well as chemical properties of the cocoa beans and differences in colour. Above all, the difference between fine cocoa and bulk cocoa lies in the taste and quality.
The names of fine cocoa-producing countries are regularly published by the ICCO. The ICCO currently classifies 23 countries as fine cocoa-producing countries (July 2016). Peru has been included for decades. Panama was a newcomer in 2016. ForestFinance exclusively cultivates fine cocoa in Peru and Panama.
An economic reform, foreign investments and a better connection to the world economy contribute to economic progress in Peru, resulting in for instance strongly increased agricultural exports. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 economic growth in Peru was at over six per cent. According to the Federal Foreign Office (as of November 2016), Peru achieved economic growth of three per cent in 2015. The declining economic growth is due to lower prices for raw materials from mining. Peru has signed trade agreements with the EU, the USA, Canada, Singapore and Thailand. The bilateral relationships between Peru and Germany are friendly. A German-Peruvian Investment Protection Agreement exists since 1997.
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) recorded a total cocoa bean production of 121,825 tonnes in Peru in 2017. During the past ten years, cocoa farming in Peru has tremendously increased, reaching a new record in the field of cocoa cultivation. By now, Peru ranks third in the South American cocoa producing business after Brazil and Ecuador.