The global crisis in conservatism: Today’s right is not an evolution of conservatism, but a repudiation of it

London July 4, 2019

VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia’s president, has declared the liberal idea “obsolete”. It will not surprise you to learn that we disagree. Not just because he told the Financial Times that liberalism was all about immigration, multiculturalism and gender politics—a travesty—but also because he picked the wrong target. The idea most under threat in the West is conservatism. And you do not have to be a conservative to find that deeply troubling.

In two-party systems, like the United States and (broadly) Britain, the right is in power, but only by jettisoning the values that used to define it. In countries with many parties the centre-right is being eroded, as in Germany and Spain, or eviscerated, as in France and Italy. And in other places, like Hungary, with a shorter democratic tradition, the right has gone straight to populism without even trying conservatism.

Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as a disposition. The philosopher Michael Oakeshott put it best: “To be conservative…is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant.” Like classical liberalism, conservatism is a child of the Enlightenment.

Liberals say that social order emerges spontaneously from individuals acting freely, but conservatives believe social order comes first, creating the conditions for freedom. It looks to the authority of family, church, tradition and local associations to control change, and slow it down. You sweep away institutions at your peril. Yet just such a demolition is happening to conservatism itself—and it is coming from the right.

The new right is not an evolution of conservatism, but a repudiation of it. The usurpers are aggrieved and discontent. They are pessimists and reactionaries. They look at the world and see what President Donald Trump once called “carnage”.

Conservatives believe in character, because politics is about judgment as well as reason. They are suspicious of charisma and personality cults. In America plenty of Republicans who know better have fallen in with Mr. Trump even though he has been credibly accused by 16 different women of sexual misconduct.

Brazilians have elected Jair Bolsonaro, who fondly recalls the days of military rule. The charismatic Boris Johnson is favourite to be Britain’s next prime minister, despite being mistrusted by MPs, because he is deemed to be the “Heineken Tory” who will, like the beer, refresh the parts other conservatives cannot reach.

By John Felsted, Political Commentator, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Canada fares no better.

Principled conservatism is under siege. The standards and values we hold have been compromised from within by those who espouse a ‘big tent’ approach and are not just willing, but eager to jettison principles to attract votes. It never occurs to these dolts that their ‘progressive’ actions erode our support base. Principled conservatives are not leaving the party – the party is leaving them.

Conservative drift towards ‘lite socialism’ is costing us long time, solid support that is replaced with newcomers with transient, if any principles. Reaching out to millennials is hazardous. It is a sad fact that our universities and colleges are conservative deserts.
Character, ethics, honesty and openness still matter. Our shift to the left and adoption of questionable tactics puts us in a melee of competing political parties with very little to differentiate them from one another. Our position of not risking offence to anyone makes us vulnerable and unworthy of support.

The result is a loss of public trust and political apathy. Why would the public place trust in any political party that spends its money making personal attacks on rival party leaders rather than mapping out a plan to deal with our major concerns?

Our current government is embroiled in two major scandals which involve interference in and misuse of our justice system and is ideology driven rather than practical and realistic. Conservatives are not stepping up to reassure the public that they will take specific action to ensure that it cannot recur under their watch. They have made no indication that they will limit the powers of the PMO to make another SNC-Lavalin incident impossible.
Our current government is fixated on climate change as the major threat to Canada.

Canadians are concerned over our economy in terms of a steadily increasing cost of living with no offset in income, health care, taxation, crumbling infrastructure, employment, affordable housing and immigration.

Electors can be forgiven for suspecting an October election may result in a change of faces but few, if any, changes in function. We are failing to signal that we are listening to the electors we want to support us.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on The global crisis in conservatism: Today’s right is not an evolution of conservatism, but a repudiation of it

Conrad Black on Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and his prison days

London 29th June 2019

He was, in his own words, a ‘staggeringly rich’ businessman and newspaper magnate, who went to prison for a multimillion dollar fraud conviction in 2007. He has kept a low profile ever since. Then six weeks ago he received a call from the president… Conrad Black tells Alice Thomson about life inside – and after jail

Lord Black, 74, photographed at the St Martins Lane hotel, London
Lord Black, 74, photographed at the St Martins Lane hotel, London

Conrad Black has just stepped off the cruise ship from the United States where he has been working his passage by giving lectures to rich tourists. “I had a high old time,” he says, “but my God, it’s a liver-busting circuit. It took ten days. I improvised talks for well-to-do Americans about history and politics.”

The irony is not lost on the Lord Black of Crossharbour. At the turn of the century, the former press baron used to criss-cross the Atlantic with his entourage in one of his company’s two private jets that would have made his recent lecture attendees look like paupers. But that was before he ended up in a Florida jail for three years convicted of obstruction of justice and fraud.

The Canadian-born former owner of The Daily Telegraph and Lady Black, the journalist Barbara Amiel, were once, by his own admission, “staggeringly” rich and happy to flaunt it. At the height of their fame in 2000, when he was the third most prominent newspaper proprietor in the world, they went to an 18th-century fancy dress party at Kensington Palace seemingly dressed up as Cardinal Richelieu and Marie Antoinette; Black was draped in red and gold robes with a vast jewelled ring and his wife was enveloped in lace and pearls. It seemed a moment of high hubris. He saw it as high humour. He embraced pomp and pageantry and dismissed those he disliked as puerile or pusillanimous.

The Blacks seemed to have it all before their downfall: three vast houses in Kensington knocked together to provide a dozen bedrooms, a 1954 Rolls-Royce, three butlers, a pair of apartments in New York, one just for servants, and a house in Palm Beach next to Donald Trump – of whom more later. His wife, a well-known writer originally from Watford, dressed in Chanel. He called her “preternaturally sexy”. She had a dozen Hermès Birkin bags, 100 pairs of Manolo Blahnik shoes and a separate wardrobe for her furs. She once joked that her extravagance knew “no bounds”, although Black later stresses to me, “It’s not as if our home was full of glass statues urinating champagne. It was a tasteful house.”

As a young columnist on the Telegraph, I found it overwhelming. Black, 74, who wrote biographies in his spare time, would invitehis journalists to drinks and dinners with princes, chairmen, historians and dukes under a vast portrait of Napoleon. I remember one drinks party escaping for a moment, opening the wrong door for a bathroom in the basement and finding a butler labelling lots of suitcases of clothes for Palm Beach, along with three hat boxes.

The power was more intoxicating than the money, Black says. “You can get awfully tired of these rich, dumb Americans in Palm Beach who had made $1 billion in birdseed. It’s power that makes the difference and newspapers were powerful.” When his friend William Hague, Conservative leader at the time, suggested him for a peerage, Black needed to become a British citizen first. “Prime Minister Tony Blair sent round the papers by chauffeur and told me to put Mr Blair and the foreign secretary as my two referees. The whole process took half an hour.”

Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel, Kensington Palace, 2000
Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel, Kensington Palace

But it was the money that brought him down. The gilded rooms, Amiel’s shoes and their luxurious holidays, angered his investors although he says it was “never vulgar”. His father was a successful Canadian businessman, an executive with a major brewery. Black made his first business investment at the age of eight, putting his savings of $60 into General Motors. He bought his first newspaper in Canada in 1966. At the height

of Black’s power he not only owned the Telegraph Group but the Chicago Sun-Times, The Jerusalem Post and the National Post in Canada, as well as hundreds of regional papers globally as chief executive and chairman of Hollinger International.

But in 2003, he was accused of misappropriating funds from his publicly owned company for his personal use. An inquiry concluded that he had run a “corporate kleptocracy” and he was found guilty of playing a role in a multimillion-dollar fraud and given a prison sentence.

The court wrangling went on for years. His newspaper rivals in Canada, America and Britain covered every last gold tap, with one even conjecturing, wrongly, that he had bought Napoleon’s pickled penis. He sold his stake in Hollinger to the Barclay brothers, and got rid of most of his houses and possessions before going to jail.

Two of his convictions were later overturned; he continued to profess his innocence and wrote a book, A Matter of Principle, to put his side on the record. When he walked free, he returned to Canada and wrote columns for such magazines as the National Review.

Then came the next twist to the story. Last month, President Trump, that former neighbour in Palm Beach, decided to issue a full pardon, called Lord Black “entirely deserving” of clemency and said he had attracted broad support from “many high-profile individuals”. These included the singer Sir Elton John and Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state.

It’s not as if our home was full of glass statues urinating champagne. It was tasteful

Black insists it isn’t because he wrote a nice biography of the president, Donald J Trump: A President Like No Other, last year. “He just rang up,” he explains. “My assistant said there was a call from the White House; I picked up and said, ‘Hello.’ I suspected it was a prank at first by the British media, but the caller spoke politely, ‘Please hold for the president.’ Two seconds later one of the best-known voices in the world said, ‘Is that the great Lord Black?’ ” The peer’s view is that the “long ordeal with the US justice system was never anything but a confluence of unlucky events, the belligerence of several corporate governance charlatans, and grandstanding local and American judges.”

We could spend all our time unpicking the events that led to his jail sentence. What I want to know is why Lord Black has come back. Is he determined to conquer London once more? And has he had enough of dressing up? We meet in Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, in the bar in mid-afternoon. He looks at the menu and groans, “Too much,” and lies back on the banquette in pared-down chinos and blazer. His voice is less a growl now than a whisper. As proprietor, he had a habit of writing irate letters to his own newspapers when he found a leader or column irritating, not usually to do with politics – he particularly disliked one that disparaged women giving birth in their fifties.

He doesn’t want to reprise his social position, he insists, although he does want to return to the House of Lords. But only because politics “is finally becoming interesting again”, not because he has missed wearing his ermine cloak or dining with other lords and not “if it courts controversy”.

“I’m getting a bit old and the ranks of people I know have been thinning,” he explains. “Up until recently, politics hasn’t been particularly interesting, I knew David Cameron a little bit when he was a greeter for Michael Green [the head of Carlton Television]. He has made a historic misjudgment but these things happen,” he says, seeming more forgiving these days.

Boris Johnson, however, is a different matter. Conrad helped to create Johnson when he employed him first at The Daily Telegraph and then at The Spectator. He once held a party for him in 2001 with full-size cardboard cut-outs of him and placemats of his face, and commissioned an ode to his employee.

“I’ve never understood the terrible antagonism to him in some circles, although I am not blind to his limitations as his former boss. Some people think he should be sent to prison for life or something – he really upsets them. Boris lied to me, but that’s Boris. These things happen.”

Black and his wife in 1994
Black and his wife in 1994Camera Press

Johnson had sworn to Black that if he made him editor of The Spectator he would drop any immediate political ambitions. “He promised in a hilarious sequence of oaths and affirmations that he wouldn’t dream of standing as a candidate, he put it verbally and in a very exaggeratedly emphatic way. But it wasn’t two weeks before we found that he had thrown his hat in the ring as candidate,” Black says now. “There was Henley and another place, just to be doubly sure. I was fairly annoyed when he became an MP.”

Now though, he thinks his time may have come. “I just have the sense he’s the one who can slice the Gordian knot if not much else. It has been a shocking spectacle for the world to see Britain in this state, incoherent and divided. Politics hasn’t been this interesting since my friend Margaret Thatcher was in power, but this is way over the top.”

While Boris Johnson was editing The Spectator, he was having an affair with his deputy, Petronella Wyatt, whom Lord Black still sees regularly. “I am completely astounded how complicated the private lives are of some of the people I know. I would find it a terrible strain, but some people like that kind of thing. I don’t think it has a bearing on his ability to be PM.”

Black is one of the few men to know both Boris Johnson and President Trump. He was once Donald Trump’s business partner in a Chicago skyscraper project; he and Amiel would often dine with the Trumps in New York and went to their wedding. “I don’t think Boris is much like Trump. Despite the impression Trump gives, he was an extremely efficient businessman, he ran a tight ship and all his people were capable. He was fantastically motivated to make money and he has been widely misunderstood and underestimated with people thinking he was an absurd character.”

He must see that the president is a contentious figure. “There is plenty of room to disagree with him, but the only slightly absurd thing about him is some of the peculiar and slightly shabby methods he used to further his self-enrichment. They weren’t illegal. He has had this idea all the time I have known him of translating celebrity into high political office and, if I may put it this way without sounding like an old dowager, becoming more socially successful. He has always had a grand plan and he follows it with almost preternatural determination. There are aspects to Boris’s private life which are quite sad. That is not the case with Trump; his ex-wives speak well of him and there was plenty of money for them.”

His admiration doesn’t seem manufactured. “Trump is the only person elected president without ever having sought any kind of public or military office before. He did it with a communication strategy that had just become technologically possible – in that sense he was like President Roosevelt using the radio. Boris is a character but not so much a pioneer; he’s just ambitious. He wants a statue and journalists don’t get statues, only prime ministers.”

As his former boss, I’m not blind to Boris’s limitations. He lied to me, but that’s Boris

Now back in London he is meeting Boris again for a drink but the capital he says has changed. “You can see there are more un-English faces than ever, I don’t mean that disparagingly, but it is a change. There are problems with the Islamists, I think, but that is not confined to Britain. London is still an interesting city; it’s a crossroads. My mantelpiece used to be covered with these stiff invitations. Now the super-rich are different; there are foreigners who have made money in odd ways that probably would raise eyebrows with the membership committee of White’s club.”

He never quite became part of the British Establishment. “I had the impression that, as a foreigner, they credited me with being an educated person, knowing the language tolerably well and British history fairly well, better than most maybe. But when adverse circumstances temporarily overtook me the British that I knew well were more loyal than I expected. On the other hand, I found some elements of this country, especially the media, gratuitously hostile and nasty – the British never like too much success. But everything is fine now and I’ve pretty well won the public relations battle.”

Does he want to exact revenge on those who put him in jail? “I know philosophically the danger of getting too obsessed with revenge. If I have an opportunity to return the unkindness inflicted on me in some cases, I would do it, but it happened. I feel all in all I’ve come through it rather well; the odds weren’t very promising. I don’t want to put on the airs of the embattled veteran, though on many occasions it was no day at the beach, believe me.”

I assume he won’t want to dwell on his incarceration but this is when he suddenly becomes animated. In a bizarre way, he sounds almost nostalgic about his time behind bars, although he had to share a cell, scrub showers and undergo regular body-cavity searches.

“Quite frankly, it wasn’t the most complicated political structure. On the night I arrived I was very graciously greeted by a man who proved to be the don of the Genovese family, who said the famous words, ‘If you catch a cold, we will find out who you got it from.’ Then he said, ‘We have a lot in common – we’re both industrialists.’ ” He ended up going to Mass with the don’s collector every week because “I did feel a little guilty about a few things in life”. He was careful not to offend anyone. “I did not truckle to the system, but I didn’t break the rules either.”

Black’s Palm Beach mansion
Black’s Palm Beach mansionSplash News

Amiel visited him each week, waking up at 3am to drive four hours to the gates. He would pass her messages in code so that she could pay people through their families on the outside to do his laundry and cook for him. “Barbara saved me.” Teaching did, too. “The Bureau of Prisons has this policy that anyone who hasn’t graduated from secondary school can matriculate, but they have teachers who are for the most part completely incompetent and no one trusted them. The head of education became slightly aware of me because two of my books were in the library. He asked me to become a tutor.

“They would arrive surly and suspicious and I would give them a little speech that I eventually could recite in my sleep saying, ‘It is nothing to me, but if you want to game the system here and leave with your foot on the up escalator and some chance to make a living that is adequate and doesn’t lead back to a place like this, I can help you. That is exactly what the authorities don’t want; they want you to flop back in here, and keep giving them the kick-backs for mattresses and cornflakes.’ ”

Under his guidance, 200 inmates graduated and he went to their award ceremonies. By now he was hooked. “The system didn’t do anything to introduce them to the possibility of universities, so I helped them sign up for correspondence courses. A few of them I even helped financially. It was fun. These people had gone through their whole lives being told they could never achieve anything.

“I’m not a do-gooder,” he says. But he can’t help adding that some got in touch to congratulate him on his pardon.

Biographies dwell on his complicated relationship with his father. He just calls him “a bit of an eccentric, but a gentleman. Although he could be difficult; my mother was a saint.”

It is Amiel, he says, who has stopped him feeling bitter. He has also stayed close to his daughter and two sons from his first marriage. “I had encountered [Amiel] over the years in Canada, but we were both married to other people. Then one day we met when both single and Cupid’s arrow proceeded at the speed of a missile, from the ground to 60,000ft in 3 heartbeats. I suddenly saw her in a different light. I was concerned my feelings might be unrequited. She said that she felt she was subject to a takeover bid, but not a hostile one.”

When Black went through the courts in America, she was painted as a gold-digger. “Her performance was magnificent, which I can’t say surprised me that much. She visited me endlessly [in prison] and when I came out she was there with the dogs. She has proved them all wonderfully wrong.”

They are now settled in a house in Toronto. “We may get something here in London again but nothing big … I like cities more than the countryside. I still chat regularly to people like Kissinger, who is 96 now, and Elton John has been a loyal friend.”

Leaving court in Chicago in July 2007
Leaving court in Chicago in July 2007Getty Images

Black seems remarkably sanguine, almost content. “Believe it or not, I have had considerable success as a columnist – I’m rather well paid just to give my opinions and I don’t have to administer anything.”

He thinks his friend Donald Trump will get re-elected. “The group on the cruise were successful, intelligent people from all around the country and they think Trump is Jesus Christ on wheels.” His former employee Boris could become prime minister. It will make life easier for him. But he does worry about conspicuous wealth now. “Not particularly because of being in prison by the way – some of the drug guys had a lot of money. All your dukes once had their vast estates, too. But because it is causing social instability. You can’t just soak the rich or they will leave the country, but they need to act appropriately.”

He sounds embarrassed momentarily at his new worthiness. “I sometimes think people regard me as a bit of a Pollyanna now, which I never was, but I am optimistic. I am in rebuild mode, financially speaking. The world is a jungle. I am not naive – in America in particular there is fierce competition and ruthless competitiveness that leads to a great deal of striving and achieving, but it also leads to the destruction of the lives of many people. Britain is tamer. It has a wonderful history, although you do have your foibles. I’m proud to be British.”


A few days later I contact him again. Everyone always asks about the infamous fancy-dress photo that so many remember him for. I ask whether he now regrets dressing up as Richelieu to his wife’s Marie Antoinette – a picture of extreme excess and conspicuous wealth.

No, he does not and he wants to set the record straight. He writes in an email:

“This canard has been floating around for 20 years all over the world: that Barbara was Marie Antoinette and I was Richelieu. We would have been happy to pretend to be these people but Barbara was a friendly (and perhaps suggestible) barmaid, not the Hapsburg-Bourbon queen of France, and I was just an ordinary cardinal. I did not have the great Richelieu’s goatee and moustache, nor his secular insignia as duke, prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and the interior (police and national security), founder-president of the French Academy and grand admiral. The historical ignorance of the press is distressing, even after all these years, and it is a relief not to employ them any more.”

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Conrad Black on Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and his prison days

Roger Federer:”You cannot be alone at the top”

By Simon Kuper

The Financial Times, London 28th June, 2019

In 25 years of interviewing athletes, I’ve learnt that they never ask you anything back. Roger Federer is the exception. In the van to his private jet, he bombards me with questions: how badly have the gilets jaunes smashed up Paris, where I live? Do I have children? When he discovers I have twins (he has two sets, one female, one male), and that my mother, like his, came from northern Johannesburg, he grins with delight: “We could be like brothers.” He speaks near-perfect English, with some of the singsong rhythm of his native Swiss-German.

This morning we are flying his shared NetJets plane from Zurich to Madrid, where he’s playing a tournament. We take off almost vertically: private jets fly at over 40,000 feet, higher than commercial planes, and whizz through the thin and nearly traffic-free air.

Federer and I sit facing each other in soft beige leather armchairs. The stewardess unfolds a dining table between us. Our fellow passengers — two of Federer’s fitness coaches and a NetJets man — loll on a sofa at the back of the cabin. I feel as if I’m in a magazine advertisement for first-class life. My tablemate, despite a slightly bulbous nose, is as beautiful as a Roman god. With his long legs slung over each other, he looks perfectly at ease in his body. He smiles and makes eye contact with the confidence of a man accustomed to getting a good response from everybody he meets. Unlike many athletes, he doesn’t need an agent by his side to censor his speech.

Aged 37, Federer has been on the circuit playing uniquely gorgeous tennis for 20 years. Pundits began predicting his retirement a decade ago, but he won another Wimbledon in 2017, the Australian Open last year (his 20th Grand Slam tournament) and he returns to Wimbledon next week ranking third in the world behind Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, and seeded second by the tournament’s organisers. He is aiming for a record ninth victory. He seems genuinely unsure when he will retire. On the plane this morning, he appears as vigorous as a grown-up can be.

I want to get him to review his life and career. But first the stewardess brings us mini-croissants and fruit skewers. I had wondered whether Federer would eat human food; Djokovic likes his gluten-free and raw, when he deigns to eat at all. But Federer spreads marmalade on his croissant.

The stewardess suggests detox juices: “Morning energy!”

Federer smiles: “I never have, but let me try one.” She gives him three different juices. I order a café latte, he an espresso, and we both get muesli. This is turning out less Spartan than I’d feared.

“Really,” I start, “you’ve had multiple careers. You had your rise; then unchallenged supremacy; then rivals arrive — ”

“I see it the same way,” he interrupts. I continue: “Now you’re battling your way back to the top.” Here he demurs. “It’s really the good times now. It’s like I’m on this tour, almost, and I can appreciate these moments. Not knowing what the end is, is also maybe nice.” He says he savours every trip now, because he knows it may be his last visit to that city. Then how would he sum up his career? “It’s gone way too fast. I feel like I was a junior yesterday.”

Over 40,000 ft in a private jet (Brunch supplied by Park Hyatt, Zurich) Juices — Morning Energy, Ginger Sunrise, Green Booster Fresh cut fruits Birchermüesli Omelette with bacon and vegetables Bakeries and muffins Total SFr98 (£78)

The bourgeois boy from Basel (his parents worked for the Ciba-Geigy pharmaceutical company) left home at 14 to enter a tennis academy. “I cried when I was away. Every time I took a train, Sunday night at six, I was as sad as could be, but it was my choice. You give up your childhood a bit, but I would probably do it all over again.”

At 15, he sat practising his autograph on paper tablecloths in French restaurants. “In case I got famous. I was thinking, ‘Hopefully one day I can win tournaments and be in the top 100. And who knows, maybe play against one of those guys I’ve seen on TV.’ I think at 18 I broke the top 100, and you’re like, ‘wow, I can really be on the tour. I’m in the locker room with Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. My god, it’s so cool.’ ”

The teenager’s biggest challenge was off-court life: “Doing the red carpets, meeting important people, looking at women, speaking to women, speaking to people who I couldn’t place, it was hard. I was a shy person. But I think tennis helped me, really shaped me.”

Aged 19, at the Sydney Olympics, he met his future wife Mirka Vavrinec, who was playing tennis for Switzerland. Months later, he finally won a tournament. He recalls the carefree tennis of youth: “At 20, there’s a great point, and you’re like, ‘This one, I’m going to crush so hard, I’m actually going to make a hole into the ground.’ At 37 you’re like, ‘Hmm, I’m probably going to first hit it there, then manoeuvre the guy around, and somehow work my way to the net and finish off with a nice volley.’ ” Nowadays, he says, he sometimes has to push himself to try “the crazy shots”. He worries about becoming too canny, and tennis becoming too professional.

Simon Kuper interviewing Roger Federer at 40,000ft

He has wolfed down everything except his fruit. I initially assume our breakfast is over, but the stewardess reappears to take more orders.

“Could I maybe have one more espresso?” asks Federer, adding a very British, “Sorry.”

She suggests an omelette.

“Why not?” says Federer. I concur, and remark on his appetite.

“I don’t want to become too serious,” he says. “It also reminds me, maybe, I’m more than just a tennis player.” Has he really eaten KitKats before major finals? “I’ll have a coffee before every match, and if there is a chocolate on the side, I’ll have a chocolate. Or a cookie.” Geniuses don’t have to sacrifice like mortals.

But Federer had to learn to control his genius. I ask if he recognises parallels with another natural: Lionel Messi. Federer, a football fan, lights up. He asks excitedly if I’ve met Messi (he hasn’t). “Funny enough,” he says, “I haven’t spoken about Messi nearly enough. What I love about Messi probably most is when he gets the ball and is able to turn the body towards goal, and then he has full vision. Then he’s going to pass, or dribble, or shoot. There’s always three options for him. He’s one of the few who’s got that.”

I note the parallel: Federer, too, has many choices. The tennis writer and coach John Yandell once counted 20 variations of his forehand alone.

“Yes,” nods Federer. “The problem when you’re younger is knowing to use what when. That is quite — how do you say? — complex. Whereas if you’re a player who’s just very good at doing forehands and backhands across court all day, it’s easier.

“I’ve got a lot of different options. For us it’s more challenging. I think once you master the craft of knowing, ‘Which club shall I take out of the bag for this shot or pass?’, it’s incredibly exciting. Maybe this is why my love for the game is so big nowadays. Geometry, angles, when to hit which shot, should I serve and volley? Stay back? Should I chip and charge? Should I hit big?”

It’s really the good times now. It’s like I’m on this tour, almost, and I can appreciate these moments. Not knowing what the end is, is also maybe nice

Once he mastered his options, he won his first Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon in 2003. In January 2004 he added the Australian Open. Then, he said, “I took a conscious decision: I’d like to play for a long time.” His fitness coach recommended frequent breaks rather than chasing every appearance fee.

“You could just power out and say, ‘I’m planning to play till 30,’ like everybody else did, but I always thought it’d be so much fun to play through generations. Because our generations are not 10 years, 15 years. Every five years you have somebody else. My generation, then Rafael, Novak and Andy [Murray]. Now you have the next generation. I wanted to experience that, and also — it sounds stupid now — maybe give younger guys an opportunity to play somebody old like me.”

From 2004 through January 2010 he towered over men’s tennis (except against Nadal on clay), winning 15 Grand Slam tournaments. In 2009 his twin daughters arrived. “For me, ’10 and ’11 are a blur, because of the children. All I remember is moments with my family, not my results. I’m happy it’s this way.”

But while Federer changed nappies, Nadal and Djokovic matured and began beating him on all surfaces. Nadal’s record against Federer, after a 15-year rivalry, stands at 24-15, after this month’s straight-set victory in the semi-finals of the French Open. Federer didn’t win any Grand Slam tournaments from 2013 through 2016. Given his age, most pundits assumed he was fading. He says, “Those were the fighting years for me. This is where I had to show battle.”

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the 2009 Australian Open.

Nadal defeated Federer in the final over five sets in four hours and 23 minutes. Would he have preferred unchallenged supremacy? “Of course. I would have loved to dominate forever. When Rafael and others were coming through, it took me some getting used to.” He says of Nadal: “At one point you tip your hat: you’re very good. I take joy after realising: you cannot just be alone at the top. You need rivals. I’m thankful to these guys, to make me a better player.”

Federer and Nadal have set a tone of niceness in the locker room. In the 1980s, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe sometimes didn’t even speak to rivals and youngsters. Federer reports hearing that “in the ’80s and ’90s, a few guys really could not stand each other”.

By the time he started on tour, things had improved. “It was a very friendly locker room already, so I guess I just maintained that. Something I care deeply about is that young guys are welcomed nicely on to the tour, and they realise, ‘This is going to be fun, buddy, and, we, the top guys, are cool.’ ”

So when a teenage rookie walks into the locker room, Federer goes up and says hi?

“Yes. Then maybe: ‘You want to practice?’ And in that practice, you can chat: ‘What’s going on? Do you have brothers or sisters? Who was your hero growing up?’ ”

I interject: “But you were their hero.”

“Not always. Sometimes. That’s always awkward, especially when it happened the first time.”

Roger Federer’s wife Mirka (right) and their four children

In 2014, Federer’s sons were born. I quote the chess player Garry Kasparov, who told me over an FT Lunch in 2003 that at 40, “You can’t throw energy of nuclear size in the game. Because you have family, or kids, maybe businesses, you have other problems.”

Federer enthusiastically interrupts: “I always feel like I’m wearing two watches, one on myself and one of the family, because I know their schedules inside out. I know when they’re going to bed, when I’m at the tennis. I know I can quickly FaceTime them before they go to bed, 45 minutes before I play.

“I come back [home] after winning a match or tournament, or losing, and they’re like, ‘Hey, can you play Lego with me?’, and I’m like, ‘Let’s do it.’ Fine, I sometimes sit there and my match is going through my mind, but I am trying to give full attention to my son. I never saw in my vision, as a little boy, winning Wimbledon and then going to play with my children. So this is quite surreal.”

His egalitarian fellow-Swiss allow him to be a regular dad. “I can go to playgrounds with my kids. It’s just me speaking to other parents, like what you would be doing.”

Don’t some parents want selfies?

“Yes, and that is normal. I have to make a decision when I walk out in the morning: am I in the mood for it? If not, well, I have a choice to stay home. And I can always be polite and say, ‘I’m with my children right now. I’m trying to build a house in the forest or whatever, but I’m happy to do it later.’ ”

After his knee operation in 2016, many predicted retirement. But he has since added three more Grand Slam titles. “I believe I’m at the height of my physical possibilities still,” he says. Though he takes more breaks nowadays, it’s not only to protect ageing bones. “You don’t want to go through a career racing through everything, and think, ‘I was never enjoying my biggest moments.’ ” A while back, he suggested to his wife that they take time to savour his tournament wins. Instead of flying out at once, “Maybe we could leave the next morning. We could have a nice dinner, a glass of champagne, chill out.”

Has he had a happy 20 years on tour? “Very.”

Federer at Wimbledon in 2003. It was the Swiss player’s first Grand Slam tournament win, and the first of eight singles titles at Wimbledon

Federer at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia in 2018

Does he fear the void afterwards? “Not really. Having a foundation, having four children, having some sponsors that are going to exceed my playing days, I think it will be fine.” And he won’t miss the stress, he adds.

“I will miss that other family: the players. I think that’s what will be toughest. One day, when you really leave, the question is, who are you still going to be in touch with? That’s when you realise who your real friends are from the tour. You realise there’s not many.”

Who are they? His immediate answer is touching: “I would think that I’m still in touch with Rafael.”

After nearly two hours of almost ceaseless conversation, we’re descending into Madrid. Federer gestures at the arid fields below us. “Europe is so much fun. You see, we’re travelling just a little bit. The landscape’s already semi-burnt from the sun. In Switzerland, everything’s just green. I love that about Europe.” He tries to enjoy the cities he visits. He never wanted his travels to be “hotel, club, airport, see you later. We try to have a hotel in the city centre, so we can go for a walk or go to a park. Nowadays, with the zoo, we see cities from a totally different angle with the kids. I like restaurants at night, to decompress with my wife and friends.” Federer claims to enjoy interviews. I ask what we journalists still don’t get about him. That he’s a jokester in private, he replies. And also: “Maybe they don’t know I have a wine cellar, and I like to open a bottle with friends.”

On the tarmac, the NetJets man snaps our picture. Federer throws an arm around me, and I put my hand on his back. Every other back I’ve touched felt like a single undefined mass. On Fed

Then I go to the regular terminal for my economy flight home.


Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Roger Federer:”You cannot be alone at the top”

Xi Jinping wants China’s armed forces to be “world-class” by 2050: He has done more to achieve this than any of his predecessors

London, June 27th June 2019

OVER THE past decade, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been lavished with money and arms. China’s military spending rose by 83% in real terms between 2009 and 2018, by far the largest growth spurt in any big country. The splurge has enabled China to deploy precision missiles and anti-satellite weapons that challenge American supremacy in the western Pacific. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, says his “Chinese dream” includes a “dream of a strong armed forces”. That, he says, involves “modernising” the PLA by 2035 and making it “world-class”—in other words, America-beating—by mid-century. He has been making a lot of progress.

Organisational reforms may be less eye-catching than missiles that fly at Mach 5, unmanned cargo planes and electromagnetically powered superguns (all of which China has tested in the past year). Yet Mr Xi has realised that there is little point in grafting fancy weapons onto an old-fashioned force. During the cold war the PLA evolved to repel the Soviet Union and America in big land wars on Chinese soil. Massed infantry would grind down the enemy in attritional battles. In the 1990s Chinese leaders, alarmed by American prowess in the Gulf war of 1991, decided to focus on enhancing the PLA’s ability to fight “local wars under high-technology conditions”. They were thinking of short, sharp conflicts on China’s periphery, such as over Taiwan, in which air and naval power would be as important as ground forces. Mr Xi decided that winning such wars required changing the armed forces’ structure. He has done more in the past three years to reform the PLA than any leader since Deng Xiaoping.

Mr Xi’s principal aim is to increase “jointness”. This term, borrowed from Western military jargon, refers to the ability of different services—army, navy and air force—to co-operate on the battlefield quickly and seamlessly. Jointness is especially important for fighting wars that break out abroad. It can be difficult for commanders at national headquarters to choreograph soldiers, sailors and pilots from a great distance. The different services must be able to work together without instruction from on high.

China’s model is the United States, which—under the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986—drastically reformed its own armed forces in order to achieve this goal. The Pentagon carved up the globe into “combatant commands”. No longer would services squabble among themselves. All soldiers, sailors and pilots in a given area, such as the Persian Gulf or the Pacific, would take orders from a single officer.

Mr Xi has followed suit. Before his reforms, army and navy commanders in the country’s seven military regions would report to their respective service headquarters, with little or no co-ordination. In February 2016 Mr Xi replaced the regions with five “theatres”, each under a single commander (see map). The eastern one based in Nanjing would prepare for war with Taiwan and Japan, for instance. The sprawling western theatre, in Chengdu, would handle India. The southern one in Guangzhou would manage the South China Sea.

As well as these geographic commands, two others were formed in 2015, each aimed at an American vulnerability. American forces depend on communications via satellites, computer networks and other high-tech channels. So Mr Xi created a new Strategic Support Force to target these systems. It directs space, cyber, electronic and psychological warfare. In 2018 it conducted exercises against five PLA units in what the Pentagon called a “complex electronic warfare environment”. American military power in Asia also depends on a network of bases and aircraft carriers. Mr Xi took aim at these by establishing a new service called the PLA Rocket Force—an upgrade of what was previously known less rousingly as the Second Artillery Corps.

He has also been trimming the armed forces’ bloated ranks, though they remain over 2m-strong. Since 2015 the PLA has shed 300,000 men, most of them from the land forces, which have lost one-third of their commissioned officers and shrunk from 70% of the PLA’s total strength to less than half (though happily the army has kept its dance troupes, which it had been told it would lose). By contrast, the marines are tripling in size. Navy and air-force officers have gained more powerful posts, including leadership of two theatre commands. This reflects the PLA’s tilt towards the seas—and the skies above them.

It is hard to tell whether the new PLA is more proficient on the battlefield. China has not fought a war in four decades. The last Chinese soldiers with experience of a large-scale conflict—a war with Vietnam in 1979—will retire shortly.

But there is evidence that the PLA is getting better at jointness. Some of China’s growing number of forays beyond its borders, notably bomber flights around Taiwan and over the South China Sea, indicate increasing co-ordination between air and naval forces. “We see a lot of joint exercises to work out kinks in the system and get the services used to working with each other,” says Phillip Saunders of the National Defence University in Washington, DC. Chinese war games were once highly scripted affairs. Now officers are assessed on the realism of their training, says Meia Nouwens of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Before Mr Xi’s reforms the “blue team”, which simulates an adversary, would always ritually lose large-scale annual exercises known as “Stride” in Inner Mongolia. Now they usually win.

But China’s troops may still be ill-prepared for complex warfare. In America promotions depend on officers’ ability to work with other services. Their Chinese counterparts often spend their entire careers in one service, in one region and even doing the same job. Political culture is another problem. “The structures that China is trying to emulate are based on openness, on delegation of authority and collaboration,” notes Admiral Scott Swift of MIT, who retired last year as commander of America’s Pacific Fleet. He says modern warfare requires decentralised decision-making because cyber and electronic warfare can sever communications between commanders and units. “Militaries that are founded on democratic principles are going to be much more adept at adapting to that environment,” Admiral Swift suggests.

Mr Xi is an authoritarian who strives for centralised control. His predecessor, Hu Jintao, did not have a tight grip on the PLA, says Mr Saunders. That is because Mr Hu’s own predecessor, Jiang Zemin, had appointed the two vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission, a powerful body that oversees the armed forces. They stayed throughout Mr Hu’s tenure, frustrating any efforts to reform the PLA and curb its endemic corruption and ill-discipline.

Mr Xi is determined not to suffer the same fate. His anti-corruption purges have ensnared more than 13,000 officers (three serving generals were demoted in June, according to the South China Morning Post, a newspaper in Hong Kong). Mr Xi slimmed down the military commission from 11 to seven members, kicking off the service chiefs and adding an anti-graft officer. The body was also given control of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, which in turn absorbed the coast guard.

Predictably, the restructuring has generated resentment. Senior officers are irked at losing privileges. Demobilised soldiers sometimes take their grievances to the streets—one reason why Mr Xi founded a ministry of veterans’ affairs in 2016. But, says Ms Nouwens, younger ranks benefit from merit-based promotion, take pride in the growing prominence of the PLA in Chinese film and television, and admire Mr Xi’s “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. They will have an opportunity to show off on October 1st when a huge military parade will be staged in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of Communist rule. It will be the first such show in the capital since Mr Xi launched his reforms. Expect a world-class performance.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Xi Jinping wants China’s armed forces to be “world-class” by 2050: He has done more to achieve this than any of his predecessors

What Jordan’s Refuge Crisis can teach the rest of the world

Jordanian Refugee Camp – 5th June 2019

WASHINGTON – In the summer of 1949, three years after I traded my United States Army uniform for civilian clothes, and three months after I sold my half of a successful war surplus business I had started to my partner, I hopped aboard the Queen Elizabeth at the dock in New York City to move to Paris.

Arriving in France two weeks later, the damaged road I took into the City of Light was the first visible sign that Europe was still recovering from the war that had taken more than 40 million European lives from 1939 to 1945. But it wasn’t until I tried to start a business exporting food to Germany that I came to understand that for millions of people, the horrors of that war continued to live on, but in different ways.

One in five German homes had been destroyed during the war, leaving 20 million Germans homeless, the vast majority of which were women, children, and the elderly. Another eight to ten million former prisoners of war, slave laborers, and death camp survivors had set out by foot to find food and shelter at war’s end, only to settle in refugee camps on German soil for as many as five more years, as most nations – including the U.S. – refused to grant visas or extend quotas to let in victims of the war. What I remember today as mass misery, history remembers as the largest mass migration in human history.

In the seven decades that have passed since, I never imagined that I would see a day when the total number of refugees, and the scale of human misery, would surpass what I saw in 1949. But I was wrong. Today, there are more than 25 million refugees, a fraction of nearly 70 million innocent people who have been driven from their homes by armed conflict in recent decades. Twenty percent of them are fleeing the murderous eight-year conflict in Syria.

Now, as then, the wealthy countries of the world have largely shut their doors to most refugees. Instead, battles over immigration in the U.S. and Europe have sparked a global populist revolt, with far-right nationalists winning office in elections from the EU Parliament to the Oval Office. But unlike World War II, when the U.S. and Britain oversaw the fate of displaced people, the front line of the refugee crisis today is being handled by a small, landlocked country in the Middle East that is about the size of the state of Illinois and has nowhere near the reach or resources of the West: the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

With Israel to its west, Iraq to its east, and Syria to its north, Jordan is an island of stability in an ocean of violence. Refugees from all three states have been crossing Jordan’s borders since 1948, along with refugees from Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, and Bosnia. As of 2015, every third person in Jordan was a refugee.

One thing we’ve learned about refugees over the past seven decades is that if a person is displaced for five years, they are more likely to remain displaced for at least twenty years, and Jordan is a prime example. Of the tens of thousands of Palestinians who flooded into Jordan after the founding of Israel in 1948, many stayed. Today, around 70 percent of Jordan’s population is of Palestinian origin, almost two million of whom still live in refugee camps of one kind or another.

Where other nations might have crumbled under the weight of the influx, Jordan has held firm, thanks in large part to the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II and his estimable wife, Her Majesty Queen Rania, who is also Palestinian. I first heard of Abdullah shortly after he was a young military officer who had come to the US to train. Wayne Downing, a West Point graduate and four-star general who commanded America’s elite counter-terrorism teams and is known as the father of the modern Rangers, trained foreign soldiers who traveled to Fort Bragg to learn about democracy. Of all the soldiers he trained, he told me, Abdullah was one of the best.

Downing didn’t consider how the leadership skills he saw would be called upon to lead a refugee crisis, but Jordan’s embrace of refugees under Abdullah’s leadership – like its embrace under Abdullah’s late father, Hussein, before him – has been crucial to ensuring the refugee crisis does not spread to the rest of the world. As the U.S. faces increasing refugee challenges of its own – and as the credibility of U.S. leadership rests on our ability to deliver on the values we claim to stand for – it could stand to learn a few lessons in leadership from Jordan.

The first lesson: refugee crises are never contained—and solutions must quickly shift from short-term to long-term.

Jordan dealt with this issue in real time as it worked to tackle the Syrian refugee crisis. Despite Jordan’s long history of hosting refugees, the Syrian crisis has broken every record. Today, almost 1 in 7 people in Jordan is a Syrian refugee. They are mostly impoverished, and more than half are children.

At first, Jordan adopted an open-door border policy, assuming that the conflict would soon be over and that refugees would eventually return home. What Jordan didn’t anticipate was just how massive the wave of Syrian refugees would be, and the economic burden that would put on Jordan’s government. By 2016, 650,000 refugees had registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and these registered refugees had the right to public services like education, healthcare, and housing in camps.

But in truth, the actual number of Syrian refugees was almost double the number of registered Syrian refugees, meaning estimates of Jordan’s need for international help fell far below UN estimates. And because Syrians were not permitted to fully access the labor market, pay taxes, start businesses, or spend, they could never help relieve Jordan’s economic strain.

Realizing the futility of assuming the Syrian refugees would simply return home, Jordan worked instead with the international community to find longer-term solutions. The result was called the Jordan Compact. In return for billions in pledged grants and loans and relaxed trade regulations with the European Union, Jordan agreed to issue 200,000 new work permits for Syrian refugees in agriculture, construction, and production of goods. It expanded education to include all Syrian refugees, and it reduced fees for work permits.

The initiative was well-intentioned. But the Compact was designed without any input from Syrian refugees themselves, which leads to the second lesson: for policy changes to be successful, there must be trust between refugees and hosts.

In the early days after World War II, the U.S. had trust issues of its own, when the displaced in Germany – camp survivors and camp guards alike – were initially housed by nationality (Poles with Poles, etc.) without regard to roles. It meant, as historian David Nasaw has written, that “inmates and torturers” were housed “side by side” in “inhumane forced gatherings of victim and victimizer.”

Jordan has dealt with a trust issue of a different kind. Because of negative public opinion towards refugees as well as the lack of Syrian representation in the Compact’s creation, Syrian refugees doubt the Jordanian government’s motives, and many have not signed up for permits even with the new policies in place.

Jordan has tried to build goodwill by tweaking its policies to better accommodate the challenges Syrian refugees face. Just last year, the government began the process of regularizing the status of unregistered Syrians living outside of camps. This “amnesty policy” protected them from arrest and increased their access to employment, education, and financial assistance.

Unfortunately, the amnesty policy led to the third lesson: that host countries on the front lines of conflict need more money than is currently available, and that this funding must come from the international community.

Currently, Jordan fills gaps in funding by raising taxes. Since the beginning of the crisis, Jordanians have seen a tax hike of more than 42 percent, particularly on consumer goods like clothes and cigarettes. But almost a fifth of the population remains unemployed. A third of Jordanians fall below the poverty line at least once a year. And Jordan’s public debt now tops $40 billion, more than 95% of the nation’s GDP.

Jordanians cannot afford to pay higher taxes, and their protests have prompted resignations of Jordanian officials. But Jordan is also being forced to cut essential services for refugees. Just a few short months before the amnesty policy was announced, the Ministry of Health slashed healthcare subsidies for Jordan that were reportedly costing upwards of $2.2 billion a year.

The international community is supposed to ease Jordan’s financial strain by providing foreign aid and funding the UN and other international aid organizations. Yet, although the World Bank estimated that the 2016 cost of hosting Syrian refugees would top $2.5 billion, donors at the London conference pledged just $700 million in annual grants, and even limited funding promises too often go unmet.

Which is insanely short-sighted. Jordan needs international help, led by the U.S., to ensure not only that refugees receive the support they need, but also that the government remains stable. Political unrest in Amman could plunge the rest of the region into chaos, resulting in more volatility and more refugees in ways that will further challenge U.S. interests.

If we’re not willing to welcome refugees here, we need to be committed to supporting them there. Because if we can’t help them, as we learned in Europe seventy years ago, it’s not a failure of their morality – it’s a failure of ours.

By Stanley Weiss., a global mining executive and founder of the Washington-based Business Executives for National Security. His memoir, “Being Dead is Bad for Business”,  is available online and a collection of his selected writings, titled “Where have you gone, Harry Truman?” is available at major book outlets and on line as well.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on What Jordan’s Refuge Crisis can teach the rest of the world

Anti-Trump Protests in London a Bust

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ted Malloch: Live from Londonthe heart of London we see the fact.

The Trump protest was a real bust. It is damp, no wet, and all the placards have been thrown away. It rained on the crazy parade.

Protesters shouted, banged drums and waved placards at what organizers called a “Carnival of Resistance” in Trafalgar Square while Prime Minister Theresa May held talks with Trump a short distance away at her Number 10 Downing Street residence.
The crowd was way smaller than expected.

The crowd, if that’s what you call it, is only a few thousand mostly angry misanthropes,

Trotskyite Labour supporters and jihadis, like the terrorist supporting mayor of London, Sad Khan, who detests Trump so much he floats a baby balloon over his city rife with crime while attacking Trump as a misyogist, etc. etc.

One statue depicted Trump on a golden toilet. Very classy.

Khan is a belligerent Muslim who has been photographed with known terrorist groups and seems more intent on Pakistani power and multiculturalism than benefitting the citizens of the great country still called — Great Britain.

He is a “stone cold loser” in Trump’s tweet and lacks taste, decorum or any diplomatic grace whatsoever. He is also small.

Trump should, given the mayor’s notorious behavior have his name added to the No-Fly List since he despises America so much.

The loony, bearded Labour leader, Jermyn Corbyn, who is left of left and a Trotskyite Marxist who wants to nationalize the economy, tax the rich to death, and leave NATO, is so anti-American that he even refused to meet Trump as the holder of the US presidency which is customary.

He would not even attend his own Queen’s State dinner. Oh, he wants to do away with her, as well.

After what can only be called a smashing success at the State Banquet last night at Buckingham Palace where all the stops came out, today’s meeting with the failed Prime Minister Theresa May and her officials was a drop off.

She has just TWO days left in office.

The bigger event is tomorrow at Portsmouth, where the
D-Day ceremonies will commemorate the 75th anniversary of America and Allied victory on the beaches on Normandy against Nazi Germany.

Maybe the Left can protest that, too?

Without American blood, might and support there would no freedom at all in Britain or across Europe for that matter.

No one seems to want to remember that.

Except the Queen — who extolled America last evening in her wonderful toast.

FOX News reporter Benjamin Hall made the same assessment this morning.

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Anti-Trump Protests in London a Bust

MEASURING PERFORMANCE: New Data Shows Absolute Economic Destruction During Obama Years

Friday, May 31, 2019

by Assistant Editor May 30, 2019

Guest post by Dr. Ted Malloch, author of Davos, Aspen and Yale

The Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis just released this single snapshot of economic performance over the Obama years.

What do you see?

(Sorry, files not transferable) visit:

His eight years did more to destroy America than any of past presidents, be they Democrat or Republican.

Look and study these few charts:

Student loans exploded and are a literal time bomb ticking away at he millennial generation.

Food stamps soared as poverty dramatically increased.

Federal debt went through the roof as we added more debt than all other previous periods combined.

We printed lots of money to paper over the monetary effects.

Health costs went way up when we were told they would drop. Obama care was a flop.

Labor force participation went down as unemployment increased and many just dropped out of the workplace altogether.

Inequality went up and up, as the rich got richer and the middle class shrank.

Median income dropped.

Home ownership also fell way down.

Overall, Americans were far worse off than before and we were told there was NO hope.

The country was losing to China and our children and grandchildren would not live as well as their parents and grandparents had.

Jobs would never return.

Now look at what has happened in the short years since Donald J. Trump was surprisingly elected President.


Even the Clinton’s knew: “It is the economy stupid” that gets you reelected.

We cannot go back to Democrat or socialist economics.

Economic growth at 3% solves lots of problems and serves up a true wealth effect.

Everyone benefits, especially minorities, women and youth.

Hope returns.

Which do you want?

Which does America deserve?

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on MEASURING PERFORMANCE: New Data Shows Absolute Economic Destruction During Obama Years

DRAFT Master Plan For the Development and Operation of the world’s first integrated Criollo/Triniterio/Hybrid Cacao farm (near Tortuguero, Limon, Costa Rica)

For the Development and Operation of the world’s first integrated Criollo/Triniterio/Hybrid Cacao farm (near Tortuguero, Limon, Costa Rica)

Cacaitos Plantation S.A. (103 hectares)

combined with an Industrial FBM Chocolate Factory (in Heredia, Costa Rica) Chocolates Maryanto S.A. processing pure chocolate as a very Healthy, Highly Nutritious, Delicious, Tree-to-Bar, Prestige/Gourmet Chocolate under single ownership with no slave child labour, loss of the Rain Forest canopy, dozens of middle men traders, replaced cacao with soya and toxic ingredients, or false advertising.

Catica’s Fine Chocolates* ® (pending)

In Cariari/Belen, Heredia, Costa Rica with Mariano/Jeanette Valerio, Eugenia/Catalina Valerio, Moises Gomez (Belen CR), Machteld Schrama (Monaco), Robert Stewart (Laren, NL), Reg Olson (USA), Gordon Taylor (UK).  (pending)

June 2019

*The hybrid name CATICA combines our chocolatier’s name ‘Catalina’ and ‘Tica’, defining a beautiful Costa Rican woman processing cacao into pure chocolate in the spirit of ‘La Pura Vida’.


Section One:

  1. Introduction, Background and Executive Summary
  2. Hacienda Cacaitos S.A. (Cacao Plantation near Tortuguero National Park, Limon, Costa Rica.
  3. Mighty Earth visit and certification on the Rain Forest Protection and canopy, anti-deforestation initiative.
  4. Mighty Earth Report by Etelle Higgonet on “The truth behind Fake Global Certification for Cacao Production and Chocolate Processing”.
  5. Chocolates Maryanto (Chocolate Processing Factory, Heredia, Costa Rica)
  6. FBM Chocolate Processing Equipment, Legnano, Italy
  7. Competition
  8. Nutritional Content of the Finished Chocolate
  9. Marketing, Distribution, Logistics, Storage and Sales in the EU/Europe.
  10. Marketing Analysis
  11. Marketing Plan
  12. The Business Plan
  13. Product/Services:
  14. Management and Operations
  15. Management Structure

Section Two: Financial Data

  1. Project Financial Statements
  2. Income Statement/ Cash Flow Statement/Balance Sheets
  3. Assumptions to Project Financial Statements
  4. Break Even Analysis
  5. Source and Use of Funds

Section Three: Supporting Documents

  1. Plant Design:
  2. Cargo/Supply Chain/Retail logistics

Additional Contents:

  1. Distribution to various hotel groups, airlines, restaurants, wine shops, other coffee shops, tea rooms, etc.
  2. Costa Rica Chocolate growers and producers alliance.

CATICA’S® Fine Chocolate – Costa Rica 

1st June 2019

by Robert Stewart, Moises Gomez and Reg Olson

The Spirit of Costa Rican Fine Chocolate

Criollo, Triniterio and Hybrid Pods from Limon Province

Section One:

  1. Introduction, Background and Executive Summary

A revolution is underway in the global trade and production of quality cacao beans into nutritious, fine craft chocolate. For centuries, the raw material producers of cacao in the tropics did not process the finest chocolate-making machinery like the rest of the world.

From January 2019, a strategic alliance between two Costa Rican professionals (a plantation agronomist – Moises Gomez) and his wife (Catalina Valerio – a process engineer) with a Canadian-Swiss the Chairman/CEO of many multinational businesses (Robert Stewart) and Monacan investor (Machteld Schrama) who joined forces to create the world’s first vertically integrated plantation-to-chocolate processing company in Costa Rica.

Robert Stewart                                                                             Moises Gomez

Maggie Schrama                                                                            Catalina Valerio

The companies comprising this bold, new initiative (Hacienda Cacaitos S.A. and Chocolates Maryanto S.A.) were founded by Mariano Valerio Quesada, Jeannette Ellis, and Eugenia Valerio Ellis. Breaking this North-South global market divide by integrating a 4,000-year-old source of traditional cacao beans with the finest chocolate production marks a dramatic departure in the world of cacao/cocoa/chocolate.

A line in the sand was drawn in the sand between an industrial chocolate product today consisting mainly of soya, toxic quantities of sugar and poor quality non-Latin American cacao beans manufactured under modern industrial processes in the Northern Hemisphere and sold to a global mass market which will be challenged by a healthy, nutritious, locally-processed chocolate from its own exceptional plantation cacao beans and sugar cane grown and produced in Costa Rica.

Our Cacao are beans from the original trees from Centuries ago and their ingredients kept intact with full nutritional value. Modern cocoa/chocolate is now made in industrial processes from poorly grown, badly fermented, partially dried, uncleaned and under or overly-processed beans, usually comes in the form of powdered cocoa and heavily mixed with excessive amounts of refined sugar and other ingredients containing no nutritional values.

Industrial chocolate consists of overdoses of unhealthy, refined and addictive sugar, soya additives, chemicals and false advertising. The new craft product will promote a healthy ‘Super Food’ using pure traditional cacao beans and raw sugar cane based on a formula which sustained Central American peoples for many millennia. We call it “La Pura Vida”, Costa Rica’s contribution to a true, honest, and healthy food product coming from the finest original beans, with no manmade additives or extractions.

CATICA’S ® Fine chocolates will be produced by the world’s first company to own and operate its own 103-hectare cacao plantation (growing ultimately to 600 hectares) which will then process the beans into a finished craft chocolate to be run by the family of Moises and Catalina Gomez-Valerio.

The quality artisan chocolate market had a great revival in Europe and North America between the end of the ‘90s and early 2000 thanks to the extraordinary ability of some chocolatier colleagues who were the first to educate the consumer about the diversity of the cacao origins, the cultivation techniques and processing but also and above all the organoleptic and nutritional/medicinal qualities of chocolate.

The artisan chocolate market experienced a few years of interesting growth, inducing the industry to differentiate itself and to address the issues that were previously exclusively promoted by small chocolatiers. On the shelves of supermarkets began to appear single origin chocolates, different percentages of cocoa, and different spices allowing for the differentiation of themes began to dilute the product and the crisis was averted with the onset of the artisanal quality market around the turn of the millennium.

This crisis lasted for a few years with weak and very risky attempts at differentiation. After a few years, many chocolatiers were downsized, some had to close, the most interesting forced to sell to large companies. What was missing was the ability to innovate, to remain a precursor, to know how to communicate diversity.

Raw cacao beans: The last few years witnessed the flowering of new initiatives that, following the model of what is happening in the US and in the Anglo-Saxon market, are following new paths of differentiation.

The new Eldorado seems to be the “bean to bar” and “pure, dark, +70% chocolate”. On the widespread recent interpretation of the “bean to bar” there are strong doubts about the quality of the final result and the alleged control of the supply chain if one doesn’t own the plantation beans, ferment them oneself and process them to completion.

Beans  Nibs  Chocolate

Regarding the theme of raw chocolate: there is a serious problem of how it is currently defined (chocolate in which the temperature of 42 degrees is not exceeded throughout the supply chain and throughout the production process), raw chocolate (as defined) does not exist. In our opinion there are reasons that imply the impossibility:

– The temperature of cacao in fermentation is certainly higher than 42 degrees and cannot be so punctually controlled;

– The bacterial load without a rise in temperature can be very dangerous;
– If there is no third body that can check and certify what is declared by the raw producers throughout the supply chain then there are reasons for opportunities:
– Only through exceptionally controlled fermentation is it possible to make available the nutrients and functional capabilities of cacao;
– Roasting, although light, is necessary to develop the aromatic notes of cacao.

The goal of the raw food approach is to preserve as much as possible the nutrients and functional properties of the cacao raw material used in the first place. To sum up, we think this fundamentalist approach is wrong because: it cannot be applied, it cannot be certified, it is counterproductive to the stated objectives, it does not guarantee food safety, and the process followed does not lead to an organoleptic quality.

Raw bar: We believe instead that it is possible to achieve the objectives stated by the raw food approach using well-fermented cacao beans, toasted for a short time and not too high temperatures, working cold chocolate without conceal and that this approach allows us to have a good product, safe and with highly functional properties.

This is why we called it pure CATICA’s Fine Chocolate. It consists of only agricultural raw materials, cacao and raw sugar cane, which are refined with great care into a nutritious and delicious product without overdosing it in addictive white beet sugar, extracting the original ingredients of the beans (cacao mass, butter and liquor while replacing this with soya, chemicals, milk products, artificial flavours or other ingredients to cover the bitter taste of low quality cacao beans). This produces direct, aromatic and persistent chocolate which is organic and gluten-free.

 A Brief History of Cacao and Chocolate

 Traités nouveaux & curieux du café du thé et du chocolate”, by Philippe Sylvestre Dufour, 1685 gives a good rendition of the cacao/chocolate’s long story. The history of chocolate began in Mesoamerica. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 450 BC. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter liquid, mixed with spices or corn puree.

It was believed to be an aphrodisiac and to give the drinker strength. Today, such drinks are also known as “Chilate” and are made by locals in the South of Mexico. After its arrival to Europe in the sixteenth century, sugar was added to it and it became popular throughout society, first among the ruling classes and then among the common people. In the 20th century, chocolate was considered essential in the rations of United States soldiers during war.

The word “chocolate” comes from the Classical Nahuatl word chocolātl, and entered the English language from the Spanish language. Cultivation, consumption, and cultural use of cacao were extensive in Mesoamerica where the cacao tree is native. When pollinated, the seed of the cacao tree eventually forms a kind of sheath, or ear, 20″ long, hanging from the tree trunk itself. Within the sheath are 30 to 40 brownish-red almond-shaped beans embedded in a sweet viscous pulp. While the beans themselves are bitter due to the alkaloids within them, the sweet pulp may have been the first element consumed by humans.

Cacao pods themselves can range in a wide range of colors, from pale yellow to bright green, all the way to dark purple or crimson. The skin can also vary greatly – some are sculpted with craters or warts, while others are completely smooth. This wide range in type of pods is unique to cacaos in that their color and texture does not necessarily determine the ripeness or taste of the beans inside.

Evidence suggests that it may have been fermented and served as an alcoholic beverage as early as 1400 BC. Cultivation of the Cacao was not an easy process. Part of the reason was that was due to the fact that, Cacao trees in their natural environment grew up to 60 or more feet tall. When the trees were grown in a plantation however, they grew to around 20 feet tall.

While researchers do not agree which Mesoamerican culture first domesticated the cacao tree, the use of the fermented bean in a drink seems to have arisen in North America (Mesoamerica—Central America and Mexico). Scientists have been able to confirm its presence in vessels around the world by evaluating the “chemical footprint” detectable in the microsamples of contents that remain.

Ceramic vessel with residues from the preparation of chocolate beverages have been found at archaeological sites dating back to the Early Formative (1900–900 BC) period. For example, one such vessel found at an Olmec archaeological site on the Gulf Coast of Veracruz, Mexico dates chocolate’s preparation by pre-Olmec peoples as early as 1750 BC. On the Pacific coast of Chiapas, Mexico, a Mokayanan archaeological site provides evidence of cacao beverages dating even earlier, to 1900 BC.

Pueblo people, who lived in an area that is now the U.S. Southwest, imported cacao from Mesoamerican cultures in southern Mexico or Central America between 900 and 1400. They used it in a common beverage consumed by everyone in their society. Earliest evidence of domestication of the cacao plant dates to the Olmec culture from the Pre-Classic period. The Olmecs used it for religious rituals or as a medicinal drink, with no recipes for personal use. Little evidence remains of how the beverage was processed. 

By 1400, the Aztec Empire (in Costa Rica) took over a sizable part of Mesoamerica. They were not able to grow cacao themselves, but were forced to import it. All of the areas that were conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a “tribute”. The cacao bean became a form of currency. The Spanish conquistadors left records of the value of the cacao bean, noting for instance that 100 beans could purchase a canoe filled with fresh water or a turkey hen.

The Aztecs associated cacao with the god Quetzacoatl, whom they believed had been condemned by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans. Unlike the Maya of Yucatán, especially the Malecu of Guanacaste Province, the Aztecs drank chocolate cold. It was consumed for a variety of purposes, as an aphrodisiac or as a treat for men after banquets, and it was also included in the rations of Aztec soldiers. The same traditions continue today as chocolate drink is consumed in a mug.

Until the 16th century, the cacao tree was wholly unknown to Europeans. Christopher Columbus encountered the cacao bean on his fourth mission to the Americas on August 15, 1502, when he and his crew seized a large native canoe that proved to contain among other goods for trade, cacao beans. His son Ferdinand commented that the natives greatly valued the beans, which he termed almonds, “for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen.” But while Columbus took cacao beans with him back to Spain, it made no impact until Spanish friars introduced chocolate to the Spanish Court.

A Lady Pouring Chocolate by Jean-Étienne Liotard (1744)

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés may have been the first European to encounter chocolate when he observed it in the court of Montezuma in 1519. In 1568, Bernal Diaz, who accompanied Cortés in the conquest of Mexico, wrote of this encounter which he witnessed: “From time to time they served him [Montezuma] in cups of pure gold a certain drink made from cacao. It was said that it gave one power over women, but this I never saw. I did see them bring in more than fifty large pitchers of cacao with froth in it, and he drank some of it, the women serving with great reverence. Jose de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived in Peru and then Mexico in the later 16th century, described its use more generally:

Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant taste. Yet it is a drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country. The Spaniards, both men and women that are accustomed to the country are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and put therein much of that “chili”; yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is good for the stomach and against the catarrh.

After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, chocolate was imported to Europe. At the beginning Spaniards would use it as a medicine to treat illnesses such as abdominal pain because it had a bitterness to it. Once sweetened, it transformed. It quickly became a court favourite. It was still served as a beverage, but the addition of sugar or honey counteracted the natural bitterness. The Spaniards initially intended to recreate the original taste of the Mesoamerican chocolate by adding similar spices, but this habit had faded away by the end of the eighteenth century. Within about a hundred years, chocolate established a foothold throughout Europe.

How the word “chocolate” came into Spanish is not certain. The authority on the Spanish language, the Royal Spanish Academy, derives it from the Nahuatl word “xocolatl” (pronounced Nahuatl pronunciation: [ ʃoˈkolaːtɬ]) made up from the words “xococ” meaning sour or bitter, and “atl” meaning water or drink.[23] However, as William Bright noted[24] the word “chocolatl” doesn’t occur in central Mexican colonial sources making this an unlikely derivation.

Santamaria gives a derivation from the Yucatec Maya word “chokol” meaning hot, and the Nahuatl “atl” meaning water. More recently Dakin and Wichman derive it from another Nahuatl term, “chicolatl” from Eastern Nahuatl meaning “beaten drink”. They derive this term from the word for the frothing stick, “chicoli”. The word xocoatl means beverage of the maize. The words “cacaua atl” mean drink of cacao. The word “xocolatl” does not appear in Molina’s dictionary, Vocabulario en Lengua Castellana y Mexicana y Mexicana y Castellana.

An early 20th century chocolate advert, the new craze for chocolate brought with it a thriving slave market, as between the early 17th and late 19th centuries the laborious and slow processing of the cacao bean was manual.  Cacao plantations spread, as the English, Dutch, and French colonized and planted. With the depletion of Mesoamerican workers, largely to disease, cacao production was often the work of poor wage laborers and African slaves.

Wind-powered and horse-drawn mills were used to speed production, augmenting human labour. Heating the working areas of the table-mill, an innovation that emerged in France in 1732, also assisted in extraction. The Chocolaterie Lombart, created in 1760, claimed to be the first chocolate company in France, ten years before Pelletier et Pelletier.

New processes that speed the production of chocolate emerged early in the Industrial Revolution. In 1815, Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten introduced alkaline salts to chocolate, which reduced its bitterness.[2] A few years thereafter, in 1828, he created a press to remove about half the natural fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, which made chocolate both cheaper to produce and more consistent in quality.

This innovation introduced the modern era of chocolate. Known as “Dutch cocoa”, this machine-pressed chocolate was instrumental in the transformation of chocolate to its solid form when in 1847 Joseph Fry learned to make chocolate mouldable by adding back melted cacao butter.

Milk had sometimes been used as an addition to chocolate beverages since the mid-17th century, but in 1875 Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by mixing a powdered milk developed by Henri Nestlé with the liquor. In 1879, the texture and taste of chocolate was further improved when Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine.

Lindt & Sprüngli AG, a Swiss-based concern with global reach, had its start in 1845 as the Sprüngli family confectionery shop in Zurich that added a solid-chocolate factory the same year the process for making solid chocolate was developed and later bought Lindt’s factory. Besides Nestlé, several chocolate companies had their start in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cadbury was manufacturing boxed chocolates in England by 1868. In 1893, Milton S. Hershey purchased chocolate processing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and soon began the career of Hershey‘s chocolates with chocolate-coated caramels.

Due to improvements in machines, it began the transformation from a drink to a food. Also, it happened different types of chocolate. At the same time, the price of chocolate began to drop dramatically in 1890s and 1900s because the production of chocolate began to shift away from the New World to Asia and Africa.

Therefore, chocolate could be purchased by middle class. Due to the lower cost of chocolate, it happened a problem that forced child labour. In 1900-1907, Cadbury’s was fall into a scandal that their reliance on West African slave plantations.

Theobroma cacao (Trinitarios)   Theobroma cacao (Criollos)    Theobroma cacao (Forasteros)    Theobroma cacao (Nacional)    Theobroma grandiflorum (Cupuaçu)

Although it was men leading the charge towards mass production of chocolate for everyday people, advertisements targeted women, who “were charged with providing wholesome cocoa for respectable consumption within the family,” Women were also targeted by advertising campaigns within courtship rituals, though most early advertising was aimed more at housewives and mothers than at single women.

While investors trading in cocoa can dump shares at will, individual cocoa farmers cannot ramp up production and abandon trees at anywhere near med more at housewives and mothers than at single women.

Roughly two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa, with Ivory Coast being the largest source, producing a total crop of 1,448,992 tonnes. Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon are other West African countries among the top 5 cocoa producing countries in the world. Like many food industry producers, individual cocoa farmers are at the mercy of volatile world markets.

The price can vary from between £500 ($945) and £3,000 ($5,672) per ton in the space of just a few years. While investors trading in cocoa can dump shares at will, individual cocoa farmers cannot ramp up production and abandon trees at anywhere near that pace.

Only three to four percent of “cocoa futures” contracts traded in the cocoa markets ever end up in the physical delivery of cocoa. Every year seven to nine times more cocoa is bought and sold on the exchange than exists.

Hacienda Cacaitos S.A. (Cacao Plantation)

Historic grower        Hybrid Crop               Young pod       Maturing      Criollo Pod

The HACIENDA CACAITOS S.A. cacao plantation is located in NE Costa Rica alongside the Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Sea. This was for centuries, the cradle of the cacao bean which sustained Central America as a currency, a highly nutritional drink and a food rich in minerals, vitamins and many other healthy anti-oxidant nutrients. An automated Italian FBM production line will process the beans into a world-class fine chocolate for export.

Grown on the volcanic soils in a tropical rain forest, this traditional approach returns to the centuries-old formula of using two ingredients only: all of the cacao mass, butter and liquor contents of its original pure Criollo and Triniterio beans blended with local, pure, raw sugar cane filled with additional energy nutrients, vitamins and minerals.


David pruning           Fatima grafting                Pulley            Fermentation Bins

Varying in cacao/cane sugar combinations up to 70/30%, CATALINA will produce four chocolate varieties: a pure, dark, craft chocolate; milk chocolate; mid-range chocolates mixed with fruits/nuts/herbs; and white chocolate.

The product will be sold to consumers directly and for further use in pastries and other products. The products support good health to avoid sugar addiction, diabetes and obesity. Children will be introduced to a healthy chocolate avoiding addictive and refined beet sugar. The worst outcome from eating 95% of today’s industrial chocolates which cause most of the Northern Hemisphere’s health challenge: heart attacks and acute coronary disease. There is a reason craft chocolate is called “The Medicine of the Gods”.

Map of Costa Rica

The entire operation was started and will continue to be built, owned, operated and controlled by the group.  Moises Gomez is a professional agronomist and expert with the International Cocoa Organization in London for 11 years, advising growers worldwide in growing better cacao. He has perfected the fermentation and drying of the beans rarely seen in industrial chocolate production anywhere in the world.

The use of the very high quality, fermented Criollo and Triniterio beans, grown for centuries in the Western Hemisphere, is in stark contrast to the lower quality and less-controlled Forastero beans from other continents which make up +80% of industrial chocolate production

blended with other  contents lacking nutritional value.

Don Saul, 78                                                                                 Cacao Flower

Eugenia Valerio, Giovanni (plantation manager), David (planter) and Moise (Agronomist) are overseeing the initial planting of 70-200 hectares of cacao trees as well as helping other local plantation growers to achieve the same high results in their beans throughout Costa Rica and the region.

Cacaitos Plantation S.A. Tortuguero Region, Limon Province, Costa Rica

  1. Etelle Higonnet and the “Mighty Earth” global environmental lobby wholly support and will visit Cacaitos this year to provide the highest certification on the Rain Forest Protection and canopy, anti-deforestation initiative. Mighty Earth is a global campaign organization that works to protect the environment.

They focus on the biggest issues facing environmental protection in the world including conserving threatened landscapes like tropical rainforests. Even as the palm oil, rubber, coffee, and other raw material commodity industries are showing signs of progress, one industry that has mastered the PR of protecting forests is clearly failing at actually protecting them: the chocolate industry.

In the countries where they operate, chocolate brands like Mars, Ferrero and Cadbury have had probably more of a devastating impact than any other forest commodity. For decades, approximately 30 percent of the cocoa coming from Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s leading cocoa producer, came from inside national parks and other protected areas. Cocoa has been the number one cause of deforestation that has destroyed 90 percent of the country’s forest cover and driven similarly severe impacts in neighbouring Ghana.

After decades of inaction, in November 2017 the chocolate industry was finally poised to do something about deforestation. Almost all of the world’s leading chocolate and cocoa companies, as well as the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, launched the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, pledging to immediately halt deforestation, rebuild protected areas, and restore forests. Mighty Earth celebrated these commitments at the time but noted that they needed to be implemented to make a difference.

We must now ask if these companies and their trade association, the World Cocoa Foundation, were playing a cruel joke on customers who desperately wanted to not feel guilty about indulging in a chocolate bar. WRI’s 2018 satellite data found that instead of going down in the two priority countries, “Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire experienced the highest percent rise in primary forest loss between 2017 and 2018 of any tropical country (60 percent and 26 percent, respectively).”

Thus, while Brazil tops the chart for sheer volume of forest loss, Ghana is the worst country worldwide for intensification of deforestation and Côte d’Ivoire is second worst.

This finding comports with Mighty Earth’s research in the recent Report entitled “Beyond the Wrapper”: in the protected areas in Côte d’Ivoire that they analysed, deforestation increased in as many places as it decreased, hardly a sign that the chocolate companies were doing anything more than greenwashing. At the same time, TV exposés by French and Swiss television that found a major cocoa trader connected to ongoing deforestation inside protected areas. The 2019 Easter Score Card clearly ranks and grades the chocolate industry, showing which companies are dragging everyone else down.

It’s not surprising: the Cocoa & Forests Initiative has spent more time on diplomacy and PR instead of the number one task at hand: establishing a serious industry-wide forest monitoring and enforcement mechanism to ensure that forests are actually protected.

One reason this hasn’t happened is that, so far, the Cocoa & Forests Initiative has not included tough advocacy NGOs like Mighty Earth or Greenpeace in their processes, perhaps in hopes that they wouldn’t be forced to deliver results. That’s what they’ve done for decades in promising to stop child labour in the cocoa industry, a problem that continues at a heart-breaking scale: 2.1 million kids are working in cocoa today, while average income for cocoa farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire continue at less than one dollar a day.

If the chocolate industry wants to actually see results, they need to demand that their industry association — the WCF and the coordinating partner IDH — get a robust monitoring mechanism operational before the end of this year.

The Rain forests worldwide that are bordered by deforested land are being cut down and prepared for the planting of pineapples, soyabeans and other crops. Climate activists are pushing the world’s largest agricultural traders to go “beyond nice statements” and enact concrete measures to tackle deforestation caused by soya and industrial cacao production. Countries especially hard hit include Ghana and Ivory Coast, two of the world’s largest producers of industrialized Forestero bean cacao production (+90%).

Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus — known as the “ABCD” of agricultural traders — as well as Cofco International and Glencore, have committed to sharing granular data on their suppliers worldwide, on formerly abundant forests producing cacao now reduced to flattened rain forests with all canopy, plants, animals, birds, insects and human population removed in favour of solid planting of cacao plants only without any of the bio-diverse support systems to insure high quality cross-fertilization of the plants.

The Soft Commodity Forum’s move to introduce a set of transparency and reporting measures follows pressure from customers and investors to ensure that traders are supplying sustainable food stuffs, and meeting their climate targets, qua;lity control of beans produced and support for indigenous farmwers living in these zones worldwide.

Major traders, buyers and cacao product retailers are signatories who have pledged not to purchase cacao from deforested land worldwide, but in fact turn a blind eye and in some circumstances actually support the total destruction of the rain forest canopies that protect the highest quality of cacao plantations.

Only Costa Rica has a protocol which defiantly protects the Rain Forest canopy of its territory including the demarcation of 25% of the country’s land mass being protected by National Parks. Our neighbour in NE Costa Rica is the world famous Tortuguero National Park which contain the most diverse collection of jaguars, monkeys, birds, insects, animal, and the famous Green Turtles that nest their eggs along the Caribbean Sea every year.

Companies, including McDonald’s, Walmart, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Nando’s and Unilever, have already called for an extension of the moratorium for destruction of the Rain Forest canopy and de-forestation protocols, however Mighty Earth’s satellite imagery proves they are the perpetrators of this destruction by openly encouraging farmers to destroy the canopy.

Greenpeace has long been a proponent of extending the moratorium. Paulo Adario, the environmental group’s head of forest strategy, said: “Time is ticking on climate pledges, and companies have the responsibility to go beyond nice statements on paper.”

The International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank that is one of the International Cacao/Chocolate Organization, UTZ, Rain Forest Alliance and Mighty Earth’s shareholders, has pressed these wholesale traders, cacao processors and chocolate retail distribution and sales companies to instigate systems for penalising farmers who illegally deforest, while several international bank and investment groups have publicly announced that they are factoring deforestation risk into their investment portfolio decisions.

Last year, Louis Dreyfus, Cargill, Unilever, Hershey’s, Lindt, Callebaut, Mondeles, Cadbury’s and dozens of other cacao purchasing and processing organizations announced support for this initiative, but it has been proven none follow the protocol and continue to secretly support the destruction of the rain forest canopy in order to boost low quality bean production at the expense of local farmers and their forests. These forests known as an upside-down forest for its deep root network, has lost half of its native vegetation to agricultural expansion. Pineapple, soya, palm oil and other crops are being supported to destroy the Rain Forest production worldwide.

An area almost the size of Wales has been cleared in the past 11 years to make way for soya, according to the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The three biggest soya exporters from the region are Bunge, Cargill and ADM, with combined exports of 13m tonnes in 2017.

Brazil stripped its cacao production in favour of this mass produced soya and now exports it to much of the EU and China, ending up on consumers’ plates across the world, in the form of soya-fed chicken, sold at Burger King, McDonald’s, Tesco and Morrisons. The UK is the fifth-biggest importer of Cargill’s Cerrado-cultivated soya, according to SEI.

Global anti-Deforestation lobby in Washington DC, Mighty Earth’s leader Etelle Higonnet supports the Costa Rican initiative to protect its Rain Forest canopy and stop the incessant destruction going on around the rest of the world. She will visit the Cacaitos Cacao Plantation during the summer of 2019 and work with Moises Gomez to draft a protocol for the rest of the world. “Traders are doing nothing to cut off suppliers that they find to be engaging in deforestation,” said Etelle at the recent Chocoa Annual Trade Fair, from the environmental group Mighty Earth.

Cacaitos is one of a handful of small, medium and large plantations worldwide that leads the rain forest canopy protection to produce the highest quality cacao crops.

  1. Mighty Earth Report by Etelle Higgonet on “The truth behind Fake Global Certification for Cacao Production and Chocolate Processing by UTZ, Rain Forest Alliance, De-Forestation Alliance, Anti-Slavery, and other so-called charity/lobbies purporting to support cacao farmers”:


Some of these acceptable beans will be blended with the family-owned plantation-sourced beans. FBM in Legnano, Italy are the chocolate machine manufacturers who are provided the entire processing line following an introduction and acquisition of their machines at their factory in Legnano, Italy in October 2018 by four of the principals (Gomez, C. Valerio, Stewart and Schrama).

Catalina Valerio, wife of Moises and mother of their two boys, is a graduate process engineer who has managed the family banana and dairy farm on 600 hectares. She will manage the factory processing the beans into fine chocolate varieties for sale domestically and into the high-end European and North American markets. The products are named for her.

Factory entrance in the Industrial Park, Heredia

The decision to establish the processing facility in Heredia was taken for several strategic reasons. The proposed factory space located in the outskirts of the Costa Rican central valley, has access from various main national highways (Highway 1, 3 and 27) as well as other internal paved county roads, which will ensure access to cacao beans despite of any traffic problem.

The location of Heredia is also a central point from the different cacao producing regions the project expects to source some of its beans, including the production from its own plantation, which is about 150 km, with the furthest point being 240 km. Heredia is also located near two points of export in Costa Rica.

Heredia is located 42 km from the Port of Caldera, the second largest port of Costa Rica.

Secondly, Heredia is located about 30 km from Juan Santamaría International Airport, from where we expect to export most of our products. Finally, the government of Costa Rica announced the initial stages of evaluation and feasibility studies to build a new international airport in the city of Orotina, which is located about 26 Km from the city of Heredia, making it an ideal location for the project. It is expected that the new airport will be inaugurated in 2027.             Catica’s Fine Chocolate Factory in Heredia


The property where the processing plant will be established is also owned by a friend of the family, and has all permission needed from the local council to start a food-processing activity. The property has a total area of 5,000 mt2, which allows for the expansion of the processing facility in the future. The property has access to the national water and energy grid supplies (AyA & CNFL), with the respective meters in full operation and registered. To operate the equipment required for this project, consultation were made with the national power company (CNFL), who indicated that a Three-Phase power system is already installed on the property.

Due to the proximity and good access to the central valley area, most of the qualified labour available in Heredia or Alajuela for work on a daily basis. After consultation with CINDE, which is the Foreign Investment Agency of Costa Rica, they indicated that Heredia and the property described for the project qualifies within the criterion to establish a Free-Trade zone.

  1. Chocolate Processing Equipment, Legnano, Italy


UNOX Roaster    Cracking/Winnowing            Pre Grinding               3 Rumbo Grinders


Taobroma Ball Mill            Kleego Conching          Unica 30 Tempering

Description of a multi-phased production line of processing cacao beans after the fermentation and drying process into fine chocolate bars.

After the beans have been grown on the plantation where they will have been individually grafted to prevent disease and improve hardiness, they are cultivated, fertilized with natural, organic material, then harvested and moved to the fermentation boxes. They are fermented under daily control for temperature and time, then moved to the drying shed where they are dried for a controlled period of time and temperature.

Once that process is completed, they are moved by truck to the factory in Heredia. There, they are cleaned of any refuse associated with drying or fermenting, bagging and shipment.

UNOX Roaster: On arrival in Heredia at the factory, they are equally sorted for size (small, medium and large) and condition (no cracked, diseased, mouldy, or poor-quality beans are allowed into the final sorting.  They are spread on large trays and prepared for the roasting process. The roasting profile depends on the size, quality, humidity, wet/dry aspects of the bean. Temperatures and timing controls are adjusted for each batch of trays which consists up to ten kilos of sorted, cleaned and dried beans.

After the beans have been roasted, they are taken out of the oven and cooled  before placing into the cracking and winnowing machine where the nibs are separated from the outer shells, chaff and skin of the bean.

The machine blows the waste into a bag which is collected for material to be used as natural fertilizer on the plantation helping the young and mature plants to grow. All waste matter will have been removed from the nibs as this adds to the acidity and bitterness of the final batch of the nibs and lowers quality/price/value of the final chocolate produced.

From the cracked nibs, the cacao is put into the pre-grinder which presses the nibs into a thick cacao paste. The paste is transferred to the three Rumbo Grinders where the micron particle size of the paste is reduced to 40 microns. This process can take from 20-72 hours depending on whether they are later reduced to a smaller size in another grinder, or left to grind for a day depending on their flavour, acidity, bitterness or astringency. High quality beans require less grinding while low quality beans require more to reduce the acidity and bitterness of the beans.

Once past the Rumbo Grinders (three will be utilized at Catica’s Factory in order to expedite the daily processing of the beans as this is the most time consuming portion of the operation), the paste is transferred to the Taobroma Ball Grinder for a further 3-4 hours at a timing and temperature setting based on the flavour and quality of the beans. The ball grinder reduces the chocolate mixture down to a 20-30 micron size, the optimal size for extracting the most flavour out of the bean as human tongues cannot judge flavour below 30 micron sized food particles. Everything tastes like a bland butter below that profile.

The batch next moves to the Kleego Conching machine where temperature, timing and the circular flow of the product is set to improve the flavour profile of the batch bringing out the desired taste in the final chocolate. This process requires an additional 3-4 hours of carefully controlled adjustments.

The penultimate operation is to transfer the batch to the UNICO 30 tempering machine which both conches the product, raises and lowers the temperatures to bring out the final flavour profile of the chocolate and prepare it for pouring into moulds to shape the bars. Timing and temperatures are again important to control the final flavour, flow and presentation of the chocolate with a smooth, shiny surface, no bubbles, a ‘snap’ when broken into pieces for consumption.

The final process is packaging the product into presentational bars with silver/gold foil or a bio-degradable plastic sealed cover, then wrapped in a bio-degradable paper sheath with the appropriate branding information printed on the jacket.


Although Costa Rica has a growing cacao and chocolate sector, most companies recently set-up in the country still do not manage the knowledge and quality requirements to reach international markets. At present, there are more than 65 registered chocolate manufacturing companies working the Costa Rica. Some of these companies have positioned their products in the local markets and their marketing strategy is focused mainly on attracting tourist that visit the country. Other smaller projects attend local markets and produce “rustic” rather than artisan products.


Nahua                            Sibú                                  Maleku                  Sibaeli

At present, only four companies (Nahua, Sibú , Maleku, and Sibaeli) are producing craft chocolate in Costa Rica. Their market is mainly domestic however they have started to export very small quantities to the USA and Poland. Small volumes have been sold to a hand-full of chocolate shops. One of these companies process cacao liquor and butter, without managing the process of roasting and pre-grinding. All companies in Costa Rica are relying on a large manufacturer to obtain cacao butter, as their processes tend to be more commercial than craft.

Because cacao bean production in Costa Rica is relatively small (600 MT/year) compared to other countries in the region like Ecuador (280,000 MT/year), Peru (55,000 MT/year), Dominican Republic (40,000 MT/year), there are only a few chocolate manufacturers who work with Costa Rican cacao beans.

Other Craft Chocolate producers worldwide using Costa Rican beans include manufacturers in the USA such as Dandelion and Potomac and SOMA in Canada. They are starting to source beans from Costa Rica, but still at very small volumes due to the costs of exporting small quantities.

Being located in Costa Rica, our project is in a position to source the best cacao beans in the country and have direct control over the post-harvest and movement of the cacao beans to the processing facility, meaning we have full traceability.

Depiction of a traditional multi-phased production line which processes cacao into fine chocolate. Worldwide, there are hundreds of small,  craft chocolate manufacturers appearing both in the North American, Europe and Asia, which can be considered as direct competition. These companies, particularly those in the northern hemisphere have certain limitations. Although some of these companies have established themselves in niche chocolate markets, many of these companies rely on cacao producers in producing countries to obtain their raw material.

This situation always presents a risk for these companies, as they have to rely on their suppliers to obtain the best quality beans. Most of these companies base their marketing strategy by highlighting the fine flavour of their chocolates, with some informing consumers about the true origin and type of cacao beans used.

Modern industrial craft chocolate processing plant

There is a new “trend” in consumption of dark chocolate that looks to combine the quality of the product (flavour), social aspects (direct sourcing with a proven good price for cacao farmers) and environmental criterion (cacao produced under agro-forestry systems) which consumers are starting to look for in their products.

Craft Chocolate production has boomed over the past 20 years. Here is a list of the top 191 producers worldwide:

  1. Bean to Bar Craft Chocolate Makers in the World

List of all bean to bar craft chocolate makers and manufacturers in the rest of the world outside the US.



City Country Website
Salgado / Fenix Buenos Aires Argentina
Spencer Cocoa Mudgee NSW Australia
Matale Chocolate Melbourne, Victoria Australia
Cicada Chocolate Sydney Australia
Gabriel Chocolate Yallingup Australia
Smooth Chocolator Australia
Zokoko Emu Heights, NSW Australia
Cravve Burleigh Heads QLD Australia
Bahen & Co Margaret River WA Australia
Nick’s Chocolate Salisbury, Queensland Australia
Daintree Estates Mossman QLD Australia
Monsieur Truffe Brunswick East VIC Australia
Bright Chocolate Bright, VIC Australia
Zotter Riegersburg Austria
Agapey Bridgetown, St. Michael Barbados
Nehaus Chocolate Belgium
Mi Joya Brussels Belgium
Pierre Marcolini Brussels Belgium
Benoit Nihant Bruxelles Belgium
Belcolade Erembodegem Belgium
Goss Chocolate Placencia Belize
Cotton Tree Chocolate Toledo District Belize
Belize Chocolate Belize
Kakaw Belize
Chocolates Para Ti Santa Cruz de la Sierra Bolivia
El Ceibo La Paz Bolivia
Quinta Baia de Camamu Brazil
Nugalli Pomerode Brazil
AMMA Salvador Brazil
Chokolat Calgary, AB Canada
Organic Fair Cobble Hill, BC Canada
Kasama Chocolate East Vancouver, BC Canada
Beanpod Chocolate Fernie, BC Canada
Wild Sweets by Dominique & Cindy Duby Richmond, BC Canada
EastVan Roasters Vancouver, BC Canada
Zazubean Chocolate Vancouver, BC Canada
Sirene Chocolate Victoria, BC Canada
Hummingbird Chocolate Almonte, ON Canada
Living Libations Haliburton, ON Canada
Habitual Chocolate London, ON Canada
Ultimately Chocolate Manitoulin Island, ON Canada
Giddy Yoyo Orangeville, ON Canada
ChocoSol Traders Toronto, ON Canada
Marigold’s Finest Toronto, ON Canada
Pascha Chocolate Toronto, ON Canada
Soma Chocolatemaker Toronto, ON Canada
Soul Chocolate Toronto, ON Canada
Ambrosia Pastry Waterloo, ON Canada
Chaleur B Chocolate Carleton-sur-Mer, QC Canada
Olivia Chocolat Gatineau, QC Canada
Chocolat Monarque Montréal, QC Canada
ÓBOLO Chocolate Santiago Chile
Manifesto Cacao Bogotá Colombia
Tibito Chocolate Bogotá Colombia
Casa Luker Bogota Colombia
Cacao Hunters Popayán Colombia
Santander Medellin Colombia
Sibu Chocolate SAN ISIDRO DE HEREDIA Costa Rica
Nahua Chocolate Ciudad Cariari Costa Rica
CariBeans Puerto Viejo, Limon Costa Rica
Amazilia Guácimo, Limón Costa Rica
Samaritan Xocolata San Jose Costa Rica
Jordi’s Chocolate Hradec Králové Czech Republic
Friis Holm Kirke Såby Denmark
Oialla Copenhagen Denmark
Anthon Berg Copenhagen Denmark
Kah Kow Santo Domingo Domincan Republic
Valdivian Quito Ecuador
Mayta Chocolate Quito Ecuador
Pacari Quito Ecuador
República Del Cacao Quito Ecuador
Caoni Ecuador
Toak Chocolate Ecuador
Kallari Tena Ecuador
Hacienda El Castillo Cuenca Ecuador
Hoja Verde Quito Ecuador
Adi Chocolate Nadi Fiji
Levy Chocolate Helsinki Finland
Le Criollo ZI de Besançon/Thise France
Chapon Paris France
Valrhona Tain l’Hermitage France
Chocolaterie Morin Donzère France
Bouga Cacao Foix France
VietCacao Wolfisheim France
Alain Ducasse Paris France
Michel Cluizel Paris France
Ara Chocolat France
Bernachon Lyon France
Bonnat Voiron isere France
Pralus Roanne France
ERITHAJ Chocolat France
Weiss Saint Etienne Cedex 1 France
Santome Marseille France
Coppeneur Bonn Germany
Hachez Bremen Germany
Raüsch Berlin Germany
Grenada Chocolate Company Grenada
Danta Chocolate Local 7 Guatemala
Askanya Nord-Est Haiti
Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé Budapest Hungary
Szanto Tibor Pest Hungary
OmNom Chocolate Reykjavik Iceland
SiriuS Chocolate Reykjavik Iceland
Earth Loaf Mysore India
Campco Puttur, Karnataka India
Pipiltin Cocoa Jakarta Indonesia
Neary Nogs Camlough Road Ireland
Clonakilty Chocolate West Cork Ireland
Wilkie’s Chocolate Midleton, Cork Ireland
Hazel Mountain Chocolates Oughtmama Ireland
Holy Cacao Pnei Hever Israel
Slitti Monsummano Terme Italy
Venchi Castelletto Stura Italy
Guido Costagna Torino Italy
Amedei Chocolate Tuscany Italy
Domori Italy
ICAM Lecco Italy
Minimal Chocolate Tokyo Japan
The Roasting Master Seoul South Korea
Naive Parapijoniskes Lithuania
Menakao Madagascar
Chocolaterie Robert Antananarivo Madagascar
Original Beans Amsterdam Netherlands
Chocolate Makers Amsterdam Netherlands
Metropolitan Amsterdam Netherlands
Ananda Chocolate Wageningen Netherlands
Ocho Dunedin New Zealand
Captain Pembleton Keri Keri New Zealand
Hogarth Craft Chocolate Nelson New Zealand
Wellington Chocolate Factory Wellington New Zealand
Momotombo Managua Nicaragua
El Castillo del Cacao Matagalpa Nicaragua
Cacaosuyo Lima Peru
Cocama Chocolate Lima Peru
Tree Bar Qaqaw Lima Peru
Shattell Lima Peru
Marañón Chocolate Peru
Auro Chocolate Makati Philippines
Malagos Chocolate Davao City Philippines
Theo & Philo Manila Philippines
Manufaktura Czekolady Krakow Poland
Britarev Moscow Russia
Claudio Corallo Sao Tome Sao Tome and Principe
Chocolate Tree Edinburgh Scotland
Honest Chocolate Capetown South Africa
CocoaFair Cape Town South Africa
ChocoVic Barcelona Spain
Cacao Sampaka Barcelona Spain
Blanxart Barcelona Spain
Valor Alicante Spain
Chocolate Amatller Barcelona Spain
Kuna Yala Madrid Spain
Österlen Choklad Skåne-Tranås Sweden
Quinto Gävle Sweden
Malmo Chocolate Factory Malmo Sweden
Metiisto Artisan Chocolate Falun Sweden
Villars Fribourg Switzerland
Barry Callebaut Zurich Switzerland
Favarger Geneva Switzerland
Idillio Basel Switzerland
Felchlin CH-6431 Schwyz Switzerland
Fu Wan Chocolate Donggang Taiwan
Chocolate Mamas Mikocheni, Dar es Salaam Tanzania
Tobago Cocoa Estate Roxborough Trinidad and Tobago
Baravelli’s Conway United Kingdom
Solkiki Chocolate Dorset United Kingdom
Duffy’s Lincolnshire United Kingdom
Ã…kesson’s London United Kingdom
Artisan Du Chocolat London United Kingdom
Hotel Chocolat London United Kingdom
Green & Black London United Kingdom
Damson Chocolate London United Kingdom
Westminster Kingsway College London United Kingdom
Paul A Young London United Kingdom
Divine Chocolate London United Kingdom
Dormouse Chocolate Manchester United Kingdom
Pump Street Bakery Orford, Suffolk United Kingdom
Chocolarder Penryn United Kingdom
iQ Chocolate Stirling United Kingdom
Willie’s Cacao Uffculme, Devon United Kingdom
Forever Cacao United Kingdom
The Chocolate Tree Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom
Salt’s Chocolate Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom
Doble & Bignall Cheltenham, Gloucestershire United Kingdom
York Cocoa House York United Kingdom
Raw Goodies Worthing, West Sussex United Kingdom
Lucocoa Chocolate London United Kingdom
Cacao de Origen Caracas Venezuela
Franceschi Venezuela
El Rey Caracas Venezuela
Marou Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam


9.     List of Bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturers in the US

Company Location Year founded Products Notes
Amano Artisan Chocolate USA
(Orem, UT)
2006 Single origin chocolate (bars, couverture), cocoa nibs Founding member of the Craft Chocolate Makers of America. The Madagascar bar and the Dos Rios Palet d’or have received gold medals from the London Academy of Chocolate.[2]
Askinosie Chocolate USA
(Springfield, MO)
2007 Single origin chocolate bars (dark, dark milk, white), single origin natural cocoa powder, roasted cocoa nibs Utilizes direct trade, paying farmers above fair trade prices for cocoa beans and sharing profit with them. One of the only small-batch chocolate makers in the US to press their own cocoa butter.
Castronovo Chocolate USA
(Stuart, FL)
2012 Chocolate bars using single-origin cacao from Latin America, roasted cocoa nibs and truffles Multiple awards from the International Chocolate Awards and the Academy of Chocolate.[3] Castronovo only uses heirloom beans from Latin America.[4]
Ethel M Chocolates USA
(Henderson, NV)
1980 Brittle chocolate-flavored candies, caramels, and fine liqueur-filled chocolates. Ethel M. Chocolates is owned by Mars Inc. The company is named after the mother of Forrest Mars, Sr.
Ghirardelli USA
(San Francisco, CA)
1852 Since 1998, it has been owned by Lindt & Sprüngli. Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco is named after this chocolate-making family.
Guittard USA
(Burlingame, CA)
1850s Couverture Guittard makes couverture chocolate using original formulas and traditional French methods, and supplies chocolate to See’s Candies.
Hershey’s USA
(Hershey, PA)
1894 Hershey’s, Hershey’s Kisses, KitKat, Bliss, Heath Bar, Reese’s, Dagoba, Scharffen Berger and many others. Hershey ceased bean-to-bar manufacturing around 2007 or 2008. They produce only the Scharffen Berger from bean to bar.[7] See also List of products manufactured by The Hershey Company.
Mars, Incorporated USA
(McLean, Virginia)
1911 M&Ms, Snickers, Dove Chocolate, and others. Large chocolate manufacturer, with $30 billion USD revenue in 2008.
Mast Brothers USA
(Brooklyn, New York)
2007 Chocolate bars, chocolate beer, and chocolate confections Mast Brothers is a small manufacturer with flagships in Brooklyn, London, and most recently Los Angeles.[8] A part of the Brooklyn craft movement and NYC’s first bean-to-bar producers.
Mindo Chocolate Makers USA
(Dexter, MI) and Ecuador
2009 chocolate bars, baking chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa mass, raw whole beans, nibs Member of the Craft Chocolate Makers of America. A micro-batch bean to bar chocolate maker which ferments and roasts beans. Practices Direct Trade.
Mondelez International USA
(Deerfield, IL)
1896 Milka, Suchard, Toblerone, Côte d’Or, Marabou, Cadbury and many others Bought Cadburys in 2009
Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company USA and Ghana 1991 Corporate headquarters in the US; chocolate grown and processed in Ghana
Parliament Chocolate Redlands, CA 2003 Single origin chocolate bars. Chocolate & Caramel Jars, Drinking Chocolate, Cocoa Mix, Miscellaneous chocolates.
Patric Chocolate USA
(Columbia, MO)
2006 Craft chocolate maker of bean-to-bar products. The product line includes dark chocolate bars, milk chocolate bars, and chocolate bars with inclusions. Winners of the 2016 Good Food Awards in the chocolate category.[9]
Perugina Italy and USA 1907 Baci chocolate, Italian chocolate, pernigotti gianduiotti, glacia mints, sorrento hard candy, spicchi hard candy, perugina glacia mints, perugina sorrento, lazzaroni cookies Now a division of Nestlé.
Rick Jordan Chocolatier USA

(St. Louis, MO)

2011 Organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolates and confections. Winner of Dessert Professional Top Ten Chocolatiers of North America 2012.[10]
Scharffen Berger USA
(Robinson, IL)
1996 Chocolate bars, varieties of dark chocolate Purchased by Hershey in 2005; the original Berkeley, CA factory closed in 2009.
Taza Chocolate USA
(Somerville, MA)
2006 Bean-to-bar organic, stone ground chocolate
TCHO Chocolate USA
(Berkeley, CA)
2005 Bean-to-bar chocolate factory. Has a program called TCHOSource where they partner with bean farmers to help them improve the quality of their crops and to process their beans more effectively.
Theo Chocolate USA
(Seattle, WA)
2006 Bean-to-bar chocolate factory. The first chocolate manufacturer in the US to be both 100 percent organic and fair-trade.[11]
Whitman’s USA 1842 Best known for Whitman’s Sampler; now a part of Russell Stover Candies.
Wilbur Chocolate USA
(Lititz, PA)
1884 Purchased by Cargill in 1992.
World’s Finest Chocolate USA
(Chicago, IL)
1949 The company is known for chocolate bars commonly sold by schools and social service organizations as part of fundraisers. Family-owned and based in Chicago for over 50 years; purchased by Barry Callebaut in March 2015

Moreover, craft or artisan chocolate consumers are starting to recognize that the “colonial” model of purchasing raw material from “developing” countries to be processed in a developed or “rich” country is not as sustainable as it looks. Therefore, many consumers are looking for products which are produced and manufactured at origin country, arguing that a greater value of the product consumed stays in the country of origin.

In view of these situations, a proposed chocolate manufacturing facility in Costa Rica will address many of the concerns that consumers are looking for in their product. This, combined with information about health benefits, and a campaign aimed at improving consumption habits of children towards tasty but also healthier chocolate products, will set our brand and products above many possible competitors.

Few other companies will produce an equivalent high-quality chocolate from world-class beans and no other company will have a vertically integrated company owning the entire process from plantation to bar. Eugenia Valerio acts as the in-house legal counsel for the company in Costa Rica. Reg Olson (USA) is our civil, electrical and mechanical engineer assisting with the plant design, layout and operations.

This will not only be a world first, but the only major chocolate processing factory in the country (located in the industrial zone of Heredia near San Jose) to grow the beans in the country of origin, and also process them into the high, value-added finished products for export.

For centuries, cacao growing and chocolate production have been separated into different ownerships and operations, causing a dysfunctional market which does not support local farmers, improve the quality of crops, sustain a fair price to farmers or promote anti-slavery amongst children in Third World settings.

CATICA’S workers will be fully integrated into the company’s long-term growth strategy with support in employment, training, wages and family life. This is a far cry from present conditions worldwide in spite of efforts by Fair Trade, Rain Forest Alliance and other organizations purporting to support farmers but rarely passing on verifiable benefits. It is one of CATICA’S key building blocks.


Industrial chocolate comes mainly from inferior Forestero beans that are cultivated, fermented and grown with little regard for quality, taste or final nutritional content.

Serving Size 3 pieces (38 g)     5 x 3 pieces per 100 gram bar

Amount Per Serving           Weight    % Daily Value*

Calories                                    0.21g           0.798%

Calories from Fat                      0.12g          0.315%

Sodium                                     0.02g          1.000%

Total Carbohydrate                     0.2g          7.000%

Dietary Fiber                               1.0g          4.000%

Sugars                                       18.0g        50.000%

Protein                                         3.0g          0.789%

Vitamin C                                                      0%

Iron                                                               6%

Calcium                                                        6%

Vitamin A                                                    0%

Given the meagre percentage of any nutritional content of this form ogf industrial chocolate, it is not hrd to consider that the impact of a human body is not just neutral, it is significantly negative.


The truth behind UTZ, Rain Forest Alliance, De Forestation Alliance, Anti-Slavery, and other so-called charities/lobbies purporting to support cacao farmers is that these claims are purely public relations exercises.

None of these organizations track the use of or cost of child slavery, origins of each plantation, quality of the beans, protection of the rain forest canopy, or any other issue pertaining to improving the quality of the work force, the beans, the plantations or the quality of the beans. Claims made by dozens of chocolate manufacturers that they are in any way protecting the workers, improving their lives, that they know the origin of their beans or any other factor are outright fraud, false advertising, and frequently mislead consumers on content, source,


According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 100 gram bar of dark, artisanal, craft chocolate with 70–85 percent cocoa solids provides:

604              of calories

7.87 g          of protein

43.06 g        of fat

46.36 g        of carbohydrates

11.00 g        of dietary fiber

24.23 g        of pure or raw cane sugar, not industrial sugar beet

12.02 mg     of iron

230.00 mg   of magnesium

3.34 mg       of zinc

There are NO additional contents other than pure cacao mass, pure cacao butter and pure cacao liquor for the original bean. None of the ingredients of the bean have been removed and no additional contents such as cocoa powder (with zero nutritional content), industrial whire refined sugar beet (a toxic and addictive commodity responsible for obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases when eaten in excess (such as an entire 100 gram industrial chocolate bar in addition to a daily intake of sugar hidden in most modern processed food.

CATICA’S brand will lead a revolution in creating a fine, craft chocolate which is highly nutritional, healthy and safe for all age groups. High quality fine chocolate which contains in all of its original beans including the total cacao mass, butter and liquor, has been proven in hundreds of clinical trials to provide a healthy, nutritional, even medicinal food product.

CATICA’S Fine Chocolates will be labelled and branded as a nutritious ‘Super Food’.

Years of scientific, laboratory research projects by Dr. Stephen Gundry (California, USA), Dr. David Katz (Yale University, USA), Dr. Rob Verkerk (Dorking, UK), and nutritionist Meleni Aldridge (UK), have consistently proven that +70% pure cacao products contain the following healthy positives:

  1. Fine dark chocolate has excellent antioxidant properties, is rich in flavonoids, naturally formed from original cacao. The primary antioxidants present in fine, dark chocolate include catechin, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins.
  2. Chocolate reduces platelet aggregation, particularly due to its epicatechin content. This reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  3. It lowers blood pressure, better renal function, and lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as cardiovascular mortality.
  4. In addition, the antioxidant effect of cacao directly influences insulin resistance, thus reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  5. Furthermore, cacao consumption stimulates changes in redox-sensitive signalling pathways involved in gene expression and the immune system, thus boosting the immune system.
  6. Cacao protects nerves from injury and inflammation.
  7. It protects skin from ultraviolet-induced oxidative damage.
  8. It improves cognitive function and mood.
  9. The major benefit of eating chocolate is lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction. In patients who already suffered from heart attacks, eating chocolate twice a week reduced the risk of mortality from heart diseases by 66% compared to the group that never consumed chocolate.
  10. Chocolate may also be effective in reducing blood pressure as well as improving flow of blood through the arteries preventing atherosclerosis.
  11. Chocolate consumption on a regular basis lowers triglycerides and improves blood level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
  12. Preeclampsia is a major complication of pregnancy with cardiovascular manifestation and can be alleviated with dark chocolate intake.
  13. The recommended daily intake is 25 g of dark chocolate, This prevents heart diseases and to obtain optimal health benefits.
  14. Milk chocolate is rich in calcium for healthy bones and teeth, but eating milk and/or white chocolate other than for enjoyment and taste provides only little benefit. It is recommended that milk chocolate not be consumed because milk proteins may inhibit absorption of antioxidant flavonoids present in chocolate.

The FBM Class of October 2018, Legnano, Italy:  Start of the Catica Fine Chocolate company. The Members: Moises Gomez and Catalina Valeria kneel at the front. Standing at the right, Robert Stewart (Swiss/ Canadian) and Machteld Schrama (Dutch resident in Monaco) will add investment capital and marketing support for the company.

Giuseppe Dichiano (in red), General Manager of FBM is overseeing the design and manufacture of the modern, new processing line which will start in the first year with 40/100 tons per year and build up to 400/500 tons per year over five years.


Robert Stewart (Laren, Netherlands) and Maggie Schrama (Monte Carlo, Monaco) will oversee CATICA’S product distribution worldwide through chocolateries dealing in fine quality products, high end hotels, restaurants, airlines, coffee shops, wine outlets, supermarkets, health/fitness centres, and networks that support genuine fine chocolate.

These will start in Europe with Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK, Monaco, other EU countries and progress to sales in North America, the Middle East and Asia. Children will be taught to eat non-addictive, non-obesity forming and non-diabetes related industrial chocolates in which sugar plays a devastating role in contributing to these serious diseases including cardiological impact.

These conditions represent the three largest health problems worldwide, especially in Europe and North America. Given the highly addictive impact of refined white beet sugar and other substances found in over 95% of a modern industrial product falsely marketing itself as a ‘chocolate’, CATALINA fine chocolates will offer the opposite.

13. Market Analysis: Over the last two decades, the world chocolate market has experienced a steady increase in consumption. This increase in demand is partly due to new scientific information which shows that consumption of chocolates with high coent of cacao (+70%), also known as dark chocolate, has a wide range of health benefits, from regulating blood pressure to reducing the risk of cancer.

a.)It is now widely recognized that cacao contains high levels of flavonoids, the same chemical compounds found in red wine and other food-products. This new range of chocolate products with higher cacao content, as opposed to the traditional confectionary product, is the major market driver for increase in consumption.

b.) Although the health benefits have being a major element in driving the increase in cacao and chocolate consumption worldwide, in recent years consumers in mature markets (Europe, Asia, & North America) are becoming more and more aware about the different qualities and organoleptic characteristics of the cacao bean origins.

c.) In addition, consumers are more aware about social and environmental aspects related to cacao production and manufacturing and are becoming more interested to know how cacao is produced and whether it meets basic standards of sustainability (environmental, social and economic). Our project will be able to “tick” the three boxes and ensure that this is communicated to our customers.

d.) Based on the experience of the project partners, there is an evident growing demand for higher quality chocolates in both the European and North American markets. More than ever, consumers are looking your unique and niche products to differentiate themselves. These products have to comply with ever more strict demands of social, environmental and economics sustainability for all those involve in the cacao and chocolate value chain.

e.) Costa Rica is a country that is able to project itself as a sustainable source of various products and is also a country committed to preserving its nature and all the resources that surround them. In the year 2012, Costa Rica took upon the challenge to become a Carbon Neutral country by 2021 ( This environmental image, combined with other quality factors about or business model, will be a key marketing tool.

f.)Although there are known chocolate brands in the European and North American markets, there is still not one well-known craft chocolate maker from Costa Rica in neither these markets. Considering the numerous factors that make Costa Rica and chocolate processing a unique product in various dimensions, there is a huge market potential for introducing and placing the first bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer made in La Pura Vida!

  1. Marketing Plan

a.) The first production of bars will be shipped to Europe and introduced to the Netherlands, United Kingdom and other EU markets. Distribution channels will be established with chocolate venders, supermarkets, wine boutiques, restaurants, hotels, airlines, duty-free shops, and on-line marketing supported by videos, photos and lengthy descriptions of the plantation and processing operations in Costa Rica. Robert Stewart will oversee marketing from Netherlands and Monaco.

b.) The product will be heavily advertised in social media, print, television and video media throughout Europe as a healthy, nutritious and unconventional, pure chocolate.

C.) Assistance with be provided from Gordon Taylor in the UK, Reg Olson in the US and others. Packaging, labelling, contents, definitions, descriptions, pricing and distribution will be determined at the outset to appeal to:

i.) The children’s market avoiding highly toxic, sugar addictive industrial bars;

ii.) Health products with full list of nutritional/healthy contents;

iii.) High quality pure cacao with best beans from country/plantation of origin;

iv.) Consumers of all ages seeking honest marketing and quality products.

d.) Marketing has already commenced in May, 2019 with visits paid to three largest department stores in London which sell high end priced, but not necessarily the highest quality chocolates in the UK. The owner of Fortnum and Mason as well as the chocolate floor managers, sales clerks and buyers were informed of the product and expressed a keen desire to acquire the chocolate for their London store as well as their Dutch subsidiary Bijenkorf. The Dutch stores have subsidiary stores in all major Dutch cities. So too were the stores Harvey Nichols and Harrods in the same region of Knightsbridge in London.

e.) As soon as a packaging machine has been purchased and placed in Heredia, the designs for labelling and packing will be completed.

f.) Moises Gomez has spoken at Chocoa, the largest Chocolate Fair in the world held annually in Amsterdam. Two of CATICA’S European representatives travelled recently on February 21/22, 2019 to CHOCOA and met with +300 people engaged in the cacao, cocoa, chocolate production and trade. As other cacao/chocolate trade fairs take place around the world, CATICA’S Fine Chocolates will present their products.

g.) The Annual World Chocoa Trade Fair in Amsterdam is attended by over 3,000 international producers of cacao/chocolate. Representatives of Catica attended the Fair and spoke to over 300 cacao and chocolate producers worldwide. These include the CEO Jack Steijn, plantation owners, bean growers, tasters, chocolate processors, packaging equipment vendors, chocolate equipment manufacturers and the leaders of the Rain Forest Alliance, Might Earth (Etelle Higgonet), UTZ, and confectioners.

h.) CATICA’S Fine Chocolates will be imported into the EU at Rotterdam Port or Schiphol Airport Import Duty Free under the EU/Central America Free Trade Agreement Most Favoured Nation Status. Products will be distributed throughout the UK, Netherlands and Monaco on the first test basis, then broadened as the market expands. Import rules dictate strict adherence to EU production standards which CATICA’S Fine Chocolates are fully compliant.

i.) Inspection of facilities, complete description and written definition of the process and uniqueness into the EU market will be defined in accordance with EU regulations. .

15.  Handout at Chocoa International Cacao/Chocolate Fair in Amsterdam 2019

 Catica’s Fine Chocolate

Our cacao beans are grown in Costa Rica on our world-class, true fair trade, model cacao plantation beside Tortuguero National Park . It is owned and developed by The Valerio Family of  Cariari/Belen, Costa Rica.  Eugenia Valerio, the Plantation Administrator and Moises Gomez, our a professional Agronomist (World Cacao/Chocolate Organization in London 2005-2016) assisted in initiating the  first beans grown on the plantation to create the start-up nursery and early crops, Moises helps local farmers to create sustainable agro-forest plantations in the Rain Forest with a full protective canopy. They contribute to our stock which we process into the highest quality craft chocolate with pure, cane sugar at the world’s first, major, integrated plantation/factory in the Tropics for export.

The beans are grown form our seed stock into strong, healthy, disease-resistant hybrids from the finest Criollo and Triniterio pedigrees, fermented and dried to perfection, creating exceptional nutrition and flavours, safe for children and all ages. Cacao grew +4000 years ago in Central America creating the “Medicine of the Gods”.

The beans are processed into pure, healthy, +70% Craft Chocolate by his wife, Catalina Valerio (Process Engineer) using modern Italian FBM bean-to-bar chocolate machinery in Heredia. Five years of soul and “La Pura Vida“ go into every chocolate product. First European sales in Europe over the Summer, 2019.

Contact us now for Dark, Milk and White Chocolate bars and bricks for Confections:

Catalina Valerio: Chocolate Processing in Heredia, CR:

Moises Gomez: Cacao Plantation in Costa Rica :

Robert S. Stewart:Netherlands, the EU and Switzerland +31 (0)35 538 8005

Gordon Taylor: Sales in the UK, Scotland and Ireland, +44 12966 25563

Machteld Schrama : Sales in France, Italy and Monte Carlo  +377 640625125

Exceptionally rare, unparalleled value and prestige/gourmet quality chocolates


a.) This proposed business plan describes the process, financial statement and action plan to establish a cacao-processing facility in the city of Heredia, Costa Rica, with the view to produce fine cacao-based products such as dark, milk and white chocolate, cacao nibs and couverture, for export to the European and North American markets.

b.) Costa Rica currently has a total of 3,500 hectares of cacao planted in the country, with an annual production of 650 tonnes of dried cacao beans. According to the International Cocoa Organization Fine and Flavour Cocoa Panel, Costa Rica produces 100% fine or flavour cacao due to the genetics of the planting material available in the country (ICCO, 2015).

c.)Although there is evidence that the genetic root-stock of the planting material in the country is considered fine and flavour, there are still knowledge gaps in the postharvest management of the cacao beans (fermentation and drying) which prevents some cacao beans to reach their highest flavour and aroma potential. As a result, cacao beans produced in the country can still improve flavour characteristics.

d.) The project idea started with the establishment of a cacao plantation in the province of Limón, Costa Rica, which was a family-owned grazing land for beef cattle and a Banana plantation. Through the selection of high quality planting material such as Trinitario and Criollo trees and other improved planting material developed by the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), the plantation started with the establishment of 11 hectares of cacao from the year 2016 up to 2018.

e.) The total area destined for start-up cacao production is estimated at 70 hectares, with the ability to expand the plantation to 200 hectares and beyond. Through a strict control of the production, fermentation and drying, the project will ensure the highest quality standards by developing and applying specific postharvest protocols for each cacao variety, which will allow us to develop unique flavour profiles for our wide range of proposed products.

f.) The project also expects initially to purchase cacao beans from other sources through the establishment of strategic partnerships with cacao producers in the country who have proven fine cacao. Farmers through Co-op’s in the region of Guatuso, including native Maleku farmers who have produced cacao for millennia, will contribute over 1 ton of beans each year. Other farms from growing regions in Limon and throughout the country will also provide high quality beans for processing. Years of effort and contact since 2016 by agronomist Moises Gomez in helping the Guatuso farmers to professionally grow, cultivate, ferment and dry their beans of will be utilized.

g.) Through our knowledge of the Costa Rican cacao sector, the project has identified potential cacao-producers who also apply strict postharvest protocols and are already selling dried cacao beans to craft chocolate manufacturers such as Dandelion, Potomac and SOMA in North America, and also to award winning chocolate makers in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

h.) The second phase of the project is the establishment of a cacao processing facility in the city of Heredia, province of Alajuela. It is expected that within the first five years of the project, the plant will reach a processing capacity of approximately 250-300 tonnes of dried cacao beans per year.

i.) The plant will source at least 50% of all cacao beans from the farm if and when the plantation is extended to 200 hectares. The plant expects to produce a range of cacao-based products using high quality raw material combined with some of the best craft-chocolate machines in the market. The high-end nature in the quality of these products allows the project to easily establish itself in international niche markets.

17. Product/Services:

a.) The processing facility will produce a range of cacao-based products for different consuming markets. The core principal of this project is to use the best quality raw materials to produce exquisite flavour cacao and chocolate products which also provide a health-benefits. To allow the production of these fine products, the company will ensure full traceability of the cacao beans from the farm source to the processing plant. Strict quality controls will be applied to all cacao bean sources, whether it’s from its own cacao plantation, or from other cacao bean producers in the country.

b.) The ability to source fine flavour cacao beans from several parts of Costa Rica will allow the project to offer a range of flavours and qualities, serving a wide number of consumers and market ranges. Originally, the project will focus on four products: dark, milk and white chocolates (various presentations) as well as couverture for the pastry and restaurant markets.

c.) The main features of our project will be based on the flavour and health benefits of the product. From the organoleptic point of view, the project will generate fine flavour chocolates with a description of the geographic origins, the type of beans used, type of fermentation and roasting profile, and other information which will inform the consumer of its uniqueness and quality of the products.

d.) From a health point of view, the project will work with a community of scientists and food-chemistry experts to describe nutritional content and develop the health benefit information about the products, ensuring full transparency in our communication and marketing strategy.

e.) This will be the first chocolate products to be marketed and sold worldwide with the proof on the package that only the purest cacao with a list of nutritional/healthy features is sold into the mass markets.

f.) Present day industrial chocolate, which makes up +95% of global consumption, is far from either nutritional or healthy, contributing to the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere. This Costa Rican chocolate will return to the historic formula of being not just a “Medicine of the Gods in Central America” but a very healthy alternative to industrial chocolate produced in Europe and North America.

g.) There will be a second line of products which is aimed for a more “commercial” consumers, which is chocolate products with lower cocoa content such as milk and white chocolates. These products will be marketed in hotels, banks, coffee shops, as a complementary product served with hot beverages (mainly coffee).

h.) A third line of product will be developed once the processing plant is fully operational. This line of products will be aimed for children and those wanting to start consuming fine chocolate products with higher cacao content. The project believes that “training pallets” is an essential strategy to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project. We want to secure our consumers in the short and long term.

i.) An additional service that this project will offer to consumers is assurance that our project has social responsibility through our close collaboration with farmers’ groups and cooperatives from which we will source some of the cacao. At present, there a more than 12 cooperatives operating in Costa Rica. Some of these cooperatives produce Trinitario and Criollo cacao beans. However, due to their lack of knowledge about adequate post-harvest practices, most of these cacao beans do not reach their potential and are sold as bulk cacao beans with a discounted price.

j.) To add to this situation, there are several middle-men and women traders who take advantage of this situation and buy cacao beans at a price lower than the international market prices. This model is not sustainable either for the farmers (and their families) or the manufacturers who rely on good quality beans. We will work in close collaboration with some of these coops to assist them in improving their processes and also ensuring a fair price and payment at the time of purchase for their cacao beans.

18. Management and Operation

The company and processing plant are today a Valerio family-owned business which is operated by some members of the family as part of the General Board. Of Hacienda Cacaitos S.A., the Valerio family in the name of Mariano Valerio Quesada owns 55% of the issued shares and capital investment, Eugenia Valerio Ellis owns 30%, Jeanette Ellis Zamora Ellis owns 10%, and Catalina Valerio Ellis owns 5%. Of Chocolates Maryanto S.A. Mariano Valerio Quesada owns 52% of the factory, equipment, investment and running capital; Eugenia Valerio Ellis owns 16%, Jeanette Ellis Zamora Ellis owns 16%, and Catalina Valerio Ellis owns 16%.

a.) Two foreign investors (Robert Stewart and Maggie Schrama) have also placed funds € 27,300 into the Chocolates Maryanto S.A. company (processing factory and equipment) as an investment (the specific percentage is yet to be determined until all investments are completed on both companies) and will assume some management roles. In line with new gender equality requirements, the company will operate with 90% female workers, with only around 10% of male workers.

b.) The administrative and legal obligations of the company will be managed by EugeniaValerio Ellis. Eugenia has a B.Sc. degree in law from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, as well as a PhD degree in International Contracts. Over the last 16 years, Eugenia took charge of many of the family agricultural businesses, such as a banana plantation with 200 hectares of production in 2001, followed by the management of the cattle ranch with over 600 livestock. She will be assisted by Giovanni (Plantation Manager after August 2019) and David (Planation Planter).

c.) Throughout this last 16 years, Eugenia has been able to obtain vast experience in the operation of the Costa Rican agricultural sector, with extensive knowledge on legal requirements and tax-law. She has been working with a team of external accountants and tax-advisers to ensure efficiency in the management of financial resources and compliance with tax regulations and requirements.

d.) The second member of the team is Catalina Valerio Catalina has a B.Sc. degree in industrial engineering from the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica and has being working with her sister Eugenia in the management and operation of the family farms. During the last six years, Catalina moved to London, United Kingdom, for five years (2013-2017) where she established a family.

e.) During her time in London, Catalina took several courses on chocolate manufacturers with high-end chocolatiers such as William Curley (, the School of Culinary Arts of London and Le Cordon Bleu. Catalina shares a huge passion for food processing and food manufacturing, recently taking the chocolate making course at FBM Factory in Legnano, Italy. Catalina will be in charge of the overall operation of the processing plant, working on the area of processing and product development.

f.) Moisés Gómez has a B.Sc. degree in agronomy from EARTH University in Costa Rica ( After graduation in December 2003, Moises moved to Ecuador, where he worked for one year at an organic banana farm, followed by a year working with a consultancy company in the area of capacity building with farmers’ coops. In mid-2006, Moises applied and successfully obtain the job as Project Officer for the International Cocoa Organization, based in London from 1973 up to 2017.

During these 11 years as Project Officer, Moises worked with most cacao-producing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia and the worlds’ largest chocolate manufacturers (MARS, Mondelez, Barry Callebaut) and cocoa traders (Cargill, ADM, ECOM) in the formulation and implementation of cocoa development programmes around the world. Being the only Latin American citizen in the ICCO during those 11 years, Moises was also in charge of developing the supply chain for the fine and flavour cacao and chocolate markets.

During this time, Moises gained vast knowledge in the fine chocolate world and continues to act as judge in international chocolate tasting events. Last year, he was selected as part of the Grand Jury for the ICA Chocolate Awards for Central America and Perú. This year, Moises was invited to both editions of this event, one which took place in mid-July in Lima, Peru, while the other is taking place from 1-5 December in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Since returning from the UK in October, 2017, Moises continued to be involved in cacao  development project. He has done several consultancies for government and farmers groups, assisting them in the development of Programmes and Action Plan.

From January to April 2018, Moises worked in close collaboration with the APEN (Association of Private Companies of Nicaragua) and the Nicaraguan government, to formulate activities within the national cacao plan. He initiated the relationship with the Malecy farmers in Guanacaste Province, Gutuso and provided finance and professional assistance in constructing and operating fermentation boxes and drying tables on the farm of one of the Guatuso C0-operative farms. A visit to the farm took place in May, 2019.

The farmers have been growing a high quality of Criollo, Triniterio and Hybrid beans for many decades, including some who are members of the local Malecu Indigenous tribe who have produced cacao for millennium.

In addition, Moises has worked with the Inter-American Institute for Agricultural Cooperation (IICA) on a capacity building programme for small/medium cacao cooperatives in Costa Rica to improve their capacity to produce and trade fine and flavour cacao, from production, to identification of fine and flavour cacao varieties, as well as developing models for centralized fermentation and drying facilities.

g.) In addition to this group, the company will hire the services of at least two or three additional operators that will assist the project in the processing of the cacao beans. These operators will be women and will be locally hired in order to improve job conditions in Heredia. As the processing plant increases volumes of processing through time, the project will increase the number of operators accordingly, ensuring they are women living near their cacao plantations.

h.) Robert Sandford Stewart (a Swiss-Canadian living in Laren, Netherlands) and Machteld (Maggie) Schrama (Dutch citizen resident in Monaco) are outside investors in the project. They have offered their management skills, global contacts, marketing, sales and distribution access to European and North American markets and additional investment to assist in contributing to the success of the project.

Robert is a graduate International Economist, with 50 years of management experience in building, owning and operating several of the world’s largest and most successful mining companies (Falconbridge, INCO, American Mineral Fields), Petroleum companies (Ocelot) construction/engineering companies (Bechtel), telecom companies (Justice and Franklin Telecom) in the role of Chairman, CEO. He wrote the Master Plans and oversaw the construction of many international, national and industrial projects worldwide to transform entire regions, improve the infrastructure of whole countries and build, own operate and transfer technology in many global industries.

He has worked with many of the world’s largest and most successful companies as Joint Venture Partner (Exxon-Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Electrowatt) as an advisor to many Boards of Directors/Chairman and CEO’s of multinational corporations. He worked for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of Canada (1970-1976) in Foreign and Economic Policy. He represented Canada at International Institutions and Organizations such as The World Bank/IMF, World Economic Forum, UN (UNCTAD), OECD, World Petroleum Institute, International Mining and Metals Conference, World Telecoms Union and others.

He grew up in in Canada, lived the  USA (NYC/CA), Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and England, worked in 30 African, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian countries and travelled to over 165 countries worldwide. He was the first person to circumnavigate the Earth overland in 1968/69 in a Land Rover. He has four children and lives between The Netherlands and Monaco. Together with Maggie Schrama, he will market, store, distribute and sell all the chocolate products destined for the Netherlands and EU markets and assist the Costa Rican entities in their development, management and investment requirements. With the help of Moises Gomez, and Reg Olson, he has written this Master Plan.

i.) Mechtildis (Maggie) Schrama is a Dutch national and Monaco resident who has lived in The Netherlands, Belgium, the USA and Monaco. She travelled to over 30 countries worldwide and conducted investments over 40 years in dozens of multinational corporations and industries worldwide including banking and financial services, energy, manufacturing, raw material production, marketing, hotels, residential housing, healthcare and food production enterprises.

A professional secondary school teacher in the Netherlands, Maggie taught languages, culture and history to her students. She specializes in up-market real estate and property upgrades, complex financial transactions and investments and is a renowned interior decorator and garden designer.  Maggie has contributed an investment in the Chocolates Maryanto S.A. operations and will offer advisory services to the company in marketing the final products throughout Europe.

j.) Reg Olson is an American professional engineer with 60 years of experience as a degreed electrical engineer with civil and mechanical engineering expertise and experience. He spent a number of years abroad on four continents as principal civilian project manager for construction and installation of some of the U.S. government’s largest classified reconnaissance, missile firing and nuclear programs.  Reg has been co-founder and an executive of publicly traded companies in wind turbine technology, and maritime collision avoidance technology.

He also developed a nationwide multiple residential housing project for which he was responsible for the primary financial analysis and structuring and placing of both registered and unregistered securities offerings.  Reg also has extensive experience in naval architecture and ocean engineering. Recently, Reg has designed and built the largest offshore mussel ranch in the US (Catalina Sea Ranch) and has previous work experience in Costa Rica. He has assisted in setting up the Chocolate processing factory in Heredia and contributed the financial cash flow statements and spread sheets for the future investment, production, and operational needs of these corporate entities.

k.) Gordon Taylor is a Canadian Marketing expert who worked for 20 years with the aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft of Canada marketing and selling thousands of STOL aircraft worldwide. He has been an investment banker and financier in London and lived in the UK for over 30 years. In addition, he was co-founder of the British aircraft corporation Hybrid Air Vehicles which built the world’s largest aircraft, the LEMV hybrid aircraft. He is a marketing specialist who has researched and developed contacts in the UK market with high end chocolate vendors, chocolateries, coffee shops, restaurants and hotels.

The beginning and end of the cacao/chocolate process

  1. Management Structure:


Sales and Marketing UK




Section Two: Financial Data (See Attached Tables in E-mail)

a.) Project Financial Statements

b.) Income Statement Engineering

c.) Cash Flow Statement

d.) Balance Sheets 2016/2019

e.) Assumptions to Project Financial Statements

f.) Break Even Analysis

g,) Source and Use of Funds

Section Three: Supporting Documents

a.) Plant Design:

Revised drawing coming from Architect.

b.) Storage Area

2. Traditional Cacao Logistics to Factory to Retail Distribution Chain:

This is a typical supply chain for cacao beans from plantations to ports in the country of origin. Our supply chain is much more simplified as we own both the plantation and factory prior to overseas shipment, then ship to a single end retailer who markets he product directly to his consumers.

  1. Plantation —-Factory—–Airport or Port For shipment Overseas.

Instead of 99% of all cacao beans being shipped to Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp,      Calais, Le Havre, or Southampton by ship, our finished chocolate products will be flown to Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport) and distributed to retail outlets and consumers directly in The Netherlands and the UK to start, with the market widened to the rest of the EU/EEC countries upon completion of the initial market research and acceptance. The USA/Canada, Middle East and Asian markets will be added later.

2. Tasting Protocol Oferta Técnica-Económica


OFERENTE: Cristóbal Herrera , Marzo, 2019

Contenido ANTECEDENTES………………………………………………………………………………….. 3

ALCANCES DE LA CONSULTORÍA. ,,…………………………………………………………………….. 3

COMPROMISOS DEL CONSULTOR ……………………………………………………………………… 5


METODOLOGÍA DE TRABAJO. ……………………………………………………………………………. 7

CRONOGRAMA DE TRABAJO. …………………………………………………………………………….. 7


OFERTA ECONÓMICA Y FORMA DE PAGO………………………………………………………….. 8



Catalinas´Chocolate es un proyecto de producción de chocolate de la más alta calidad para ser exportado al mercado europeo principalmente a Holanda, Inglaterra y Sur de Francia.

La empresa cuenta con una finca ubicada en el cantón Pococí, provincia de Limón, cuya área potencial de cultivo es de 70 Ha. Actualmente se cuenta con 20 Ha ya establecidas, de las cuales 14 ya han sido injertadas, siendo el material utilizado: CATIE (11 ha) y trinitario amelonado de la zona (FINMAC) (3 ha).

Adicional a su finca, la empresa trabajará con organizaciones/ cooperativas dedicados a la producción y acopio de cacao ubicados en el cantón de Guatuso, provincia Alajuela. Y se está evaluando trabajar con productores de Upala, quienes están iniciando operaciones.

Todo el cacao, tanto el producido en la finca propiedad de la empresa, como el recibido de las diferentes organizaciones deberá ser acopiado, fermentado y secado bajos estrictos protocolos que permitan potenciar el aroma y sabor para satisfacer los paladares más exigentes.

Una vez el cacao ha sido secado, será trasladado a la provincia de Heredia donde será transformado a chocolate para luego ser exportado a los mercados de interés.

Para llevar a cabo el procesamiento, la empresa ha adquirido maquinaria con capacidad de 60 MT por año, que espera llevar a plena capacidad en los primeros dos años.


1. Identificar los perfiles de sabor en Chocolate de mayor preferencia en los mercados objetos de análisis o bien, definir con claridad aquellos perfiles que resulta de interés para los clientes objetivos. Esto ayudará a definir los criterios que se buscan en los granos fermentados y secos.

2. Identificar los potenciales de sabor que tienen el cacao que se procesa actualmente en la zona de Guatusos y Upala. Con el objetivo de identificar alguna particularidad de la zona, que logre una diversidad en el portafolio de cacao procesados por el proyecto.

3.Hacer una valoración del potencial fermentador del cacao (Índice de pulpa) que se tiene en la finca propiedad del proyecto, así como de las principales zonas donde se acopiará cacao para el proyecto. Esto servirá para perfilar el protocolo de acuerdo al cacao que se tiene.

4. Realizar una proyección de las Toneladas de cacao que serán producidas y procesadas en la finca, durante los próximos 5 años. En base al conocimiento teórico y práctico que se tiene.

5. En base a los volúmenes de cacao a ser producidos, definir los requerimientos de inversión para establecer un centro de post-cosecha que garantice las condiciones de adecuadas de procesamiento, en la finca Cacaitos.

6.Proponer una serie de protocolos para alcanzar los perfiles de sabor requeridos para lograr la producción de chocolates, en caso que se requiere más de uno.

7. Definir procedimientos de calidad para dar seguimiento al proceso durante la post cosecha.

8. Definir procedimientos de calidad para la aceptación de lotes de cacao fermentado y seco provenientes de centros de postcosecha de terceros.

9. Definir los equipos de laboratorio mínimos para llevar a cabo un control de calidad del proceso de postcosecha garantizando de esa manera un cacao de calidad para la producción de chocolate.

10. Definir un procedimiento de catación tanto para el cacao en granos como para las barras de chocolate.

11. Definir perfil de sabor tanto para el cacao en granos como para los chocolates, información que podrá ser usada en su documentación promocional.


  1. Realizar la catación de chocolates que servirán de referencia para la producción propia, con el objetivo de definir un perfil del cacao usado como materia prima. Ver ejemplo en Anexos.
  2. Realizar las cataciones necesarias de cacao fermentado y seco que actualmente se producen en la zona objeto de interés.
  3. Llevar a cabo la valoración del potencial de fermentación del cacao proveniente de cada zona, con el objetivo de determinar el potencial de fermentación de cada cacao.
  4. De acuerdo con la información brindada por el proyecto ( variedad de cacao, cantidad de plantas por ha, edad de la plantación) se hará una proyección de la producción de cacao para los próximos 5 años. Para que sirva de insumo en la proyección de la inversión del centro de postcosecha que estará ubicado en la finca cacaitos.
  5. Definir requerimientos de inversión para la construcción y puesta en marcha del proceso de Post cosecha en la finca Cacaitos.
  6. Hacer propuesta inicial de protocolo para postcosecha, para llevar a cabo las primeras fermentaciones.
  7. En base a la retroalimentación de las cataciones proponer las correcciones al protocolo inicial y continuar el proceso de mejora.
  8. Establecer un protocolo de seguimiento de calidad durante el proceso de post-cosecha, para lograr el cumplimiento de los lotes procesados.
  9. Proponer un protocolo para la aceptación de lotes en aquellos casos donde el proceso de postcosecha es llevado por otras partes (asociaciones, cooperativas etc).
  10. Presentar una lista de equipos mínimos para llevar a cabo el control de calidad del proceso de postcosecha.
  11. Definir un procedimiento de catación tanto para el cacao en granos como para chocolate.
  12. Elaborar con la información de las cataciones el perfil de sabor del cacao en granos y el de chocolate para el cliente pueda usarlo en su documentación promocional. Ver Anexos.
  13. Capacitar a un máximo de 3 personas para llevar a cabo el proceso de Postcosecha.
  14. Capacitar a un máximo de 3 personas para llevar a cabo el seguimiento de calidad y liberación de lotes.
  15. Informar al Director del proyecto sobre los defectos encontrados en la catación de chocolate (en caso que estos ocurran), con el objetivo de mejorar el proceso.


1. Facilitar toda la información requerida por el consultor para llevar a cabo su trabajo.

2. Adquirir los equipos mínimos para llevar a cabo el control de calidad en el proceso o bien pagar los servicios de un laboratorio externo que realice la preparación de las muestras.

3. Dar las condiciones necesarias para llevar a cabo las cataciones, incluye las muestras de chocolate y muestras de cacao para catación.

4. Designar una persona que realizará la parte operativa para la preparación de muestras de acuerdo a las indicaciones del consultor.

5. Designar una persona para realizar la parte operativa de la post cosecha, quien deberá dar cumplimiento a las indicaciones del consultor

6.Las personas designadas para realizar la parte operativa deberán disponer de medios de comunicación que facilite una fluida comunicación con el consultoR.

7. Hospedaje, alimentación y transporte del consultor corren por cuenta del proyecto.

8. Transporte desde Nicaragua a Costa Rica corren por cuenta del proyecto.

9. Cumplir con el pago establecido en el período acordado.


La ejecución de la presente consultoría se llevará a cabo bajo las modalidades siguientes:

1- In situ: para aquellas actividades que requieran la presencia en campo del consultor (visitas de campo, capacitación del personal, cataciones, implementación de protocolos etc). Una semana al mes se realizará visita al sitio.

2- Orientaciones y seguimiento en línea: el seguimiento y orientaciones dia a dia de los protocolos que se estén evaluando será coordinado con el personal operativo designado por el proyecto. Esta comunicación podrá ser por video llamadas, llamadas o cualquier otro método que la tecnología permita. Dejando en todo caso un respaldo de la comunicación. Toda la información recibida será plasmada en formatos electrónicos creados por el consultor para dar seguimiento a la operación con el objetivo de lograr la calidad del producto.  CRONOGRAMA DE TRABAJO.

El trabajo está planificado para ser realizado en 6 meses calendario.

Ver Anexo 1.


En los últimos 4 años se ha desempeñado como Chief Operating Manager en Ingemann Fine Cocoa, lo que le ha permitido desarrollar un sólido conocimiento sobre el impacto positivo para el desarrollo de aromas y sabores en el cacao fino de aroma que tienen la genética, cuido de la plantación y proceso post-cosecha.

Durante este tiempo ha dirigido procesos de innovación para satisfacer las necesidades de los clientes, fortaleciendo la cadena de valor y desarrollando ventajas competitivas que ayudan a la estrategia de mercadeo y comercialización. Ha establecido alianzas estratégicas con proveedores para darle a la empresa una ventaja en el acceso a sus materias primas, encontrando el balance adecuado en el beneficio de las partes. A lo interno ha trabajado para lograr un proceso más eficiente en el uso de los recursos, mayor productividad y la potencialización del equipo de trabajo para que sean capaces de asumir nuevos retos.

Adicional a esto ha liderado el panel de Catación de la empresa y ha siendo parte de Jurados de catación de Cacao Fino de Aroma en certámenes realizados en la región Mesoamericana.

Cuenta con amplia experiencia en normas ISO de calidad, medio ambiente e inocuidad. Ha liderado procesos de certificación en FSSC 22 000. OFERTA ECONÓMICA Y FORMA DE PAGO.

La realización de esta consultoría es por un monto de US $ 17000 (Diecisiete mil dólares netos). Este monto es libre de impuestos.

La forma de pago propuesto es 50% con la firma del contrato, 25% a los 3 meses de la consultoría y el 25% restante se cancelará al finalizar la consultoría.

Los pagos serán realizados vía transferencia a los números de cuenta que indique el consultor.


Ejemplo de perfil de sabor en granos de cacao.


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 CACAO













S 1 S 2 S 3 S 4 S 5 S 6 S 7 S 8 S 9 S 10 S 11 S 12 S 13 S 14 S 15 S 16 S 17 S 18 S 19 S 20 S 21 S 22 S 23

S 24

Realizar la catación de chocolates que servirán de referencia para la producción propia, con el objetivo de definir un perfil del cacao usado como materia prima.                         Hacer un consollidado de la información brindada por las cataciones, procesar esta informacion para inferir el perfil de cacao que sera necesario para llevar a cabo elproceso.                         Realizar las cataciones necesarias de cacao fermentado y seco que actualmente se producen en la zona objeto de interés.

Llevar a cabo la valoración del potencial de fermentación del cacao proveniente de cada zona, con el objetivo de determinar el potencial de fermentación de cada cacao.

Elaborar los protocolos a aplicar para cada centro de aocpio, con el objetivo de alcanzar los perfiles que se requieren

Recabar toda la información necesaria para llevar a cabo la proyeccion de la cosecha

De acuerdo con la información brindada por el proyecto ( variedad de cacao, cantidad de plantas por ha, edad de la plantación) se hará una proyección de la producción de cacao para los próximos 5 años. Para que sirva de insumo en la proyección de la inversión del centro de postcosecha que estará ubicado en la finca cacaitos.

Hacer correcciones en las estimaciones en caso de ser requerido

Definir requerimientos de inversión para la construcción y puesta en marcha del proceso de Post cosecha en la finca Cacaitos.

Implementar propuesta inicial de protocolo para postcosecha, para llevar a cabo las primeras fermentaciones.

En base a la retroalimentación de las cataciones proponer las correcciones al protocolo inicial y continuar el proceso de mejora.

Establecer un protocolo de seguimiento de calidad durante el proceso de post-cosecha, para lograr el cumplimiento de los lotes procesados.

Proponer un protocolo para la aceptación de lotes en aquellos casos donde el proceso de postcosecha es llevado por otras partes ( asociaciones, cooperativas etc).

Presentar una lista de equipos mínimos para llevar a cabo el control de calidad del proceso de postcosecha.

Definir un procedimiento de catación tanto para el cacao en granos como para chocolate.

Elaborar con la información de las cataciones el perfil de sabor del cacao en granos y el de chocolate para el cliente pueda usarlo en sus documentación promocional.

Capacitar a un máximo de 3 personas para llevar a cabo el proceso de Postcosecha.

Seguimiento y control del proceso de postcosecha

Capacitar a un máximo de 3 personas para llevar a cabo el seguimiento de calidad y liberación de lotes.

Seguimiento y control del proceso de calidad

Ajuste de los procesos y actualizacion de protocolos

3. Financial Projections: Cash Flow Statements


4. Fine Cacao and Chocolate Defined

Most cacao grown in the world is considered to be ‘bulk’ or ‘commodity’ cacao, which is often poorly processed, defective and mostly sold to be used in the candy and ingredients sectors. Poor flavor and defects in bulk cacao are usually hidden by high roasting, high proportions of sugar and additions such as milk powder, vegetable fats, flavourings and other ingredients, leading to a generic and unsophisticated taste experience.

Cacaos from some countries and some varieties are usually considered to be ‘fine’ and have superior flavour. There is no consistent accepted definition or standard though to determine which cacaos can be considered as ‘fine’ cacao. Various attempts have been made to define or label fine cacao according to its chemical content and other technical parameters, but these have proved unsuccessful with no resulting useful definition. Other schemes based on countries and percentage of exports are arbitrary and do not account for the huge variation in cacao genetics and processing quality found in each country. Fine quality must instead be based on specific varieties, origins and post-harvest processes.

As the fine and craft chocolate movement has developed, and as interest grows in recovering lost cacao varieties and discovering new flavours, there is a need for a clear and accepted definition of what is a ‘fine’ cacao.

To help improve understanding and recognition of flavor quality in cacao and chocolate, the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting has agreed on a standard definition of ‘fine’ cacao based on flavor and an understanding of how the human brain works when tasting chocolate.

Cacao is grown for the pleasure it gives to millions around the world, and fine cacao is considered superior and can fetch a higher price because it can deliver complex and distinctive flavors. The Institute definitions of ‘fine’ cacao and chocolate are based on the ‘pleasure principle’, that we eat chocolate for enjoyment and that we eat fine chocolate for complex and interesting flavors. The following definitions sit alongside the Institute’s profiling system and quality standard scoring, which can be used to identify fine cacao and chocolate using the principles expressed in these definitions.

  • Fine Cacao

‘Fine’ cacao is considered superior to other cacao because it can be made into chocolate with a flavor profile that:

      has complexity, richness and varied or distinctive flavor notes in harmony and balance

      is free of defects that hijack the sensory experience when eating or in the aftertaste

       is not easily recreated by substitution with another origin or variety of cacao

Flavor potential in fine cacao is ultimately expressed through the skill of the cacao grower and chocolate maker in the selection of varieties, agronomic techniques, undertsanding fo flavour and mindful processing of cacao and chocolate.

  • Fine Chocolate

Chocolate is considered to be ‘fine’ when it also fulfils the flavour profile criteria for cacao above and also:

      respects and reflects the inherent flavor profile notes of the cacao

      is free of process defects or ingredients that obscure or distract from the flavour notes of the cacao

      is in good condition and free of damage or contamination

Fine chocolate can only be made from fine cacao and cacao can only be considered fine it it can be made into fine chocolate that fully fulfils the criteria of these definitions.

5. The Future:

It is considered that two new managers of both Hacienda Cacaitos S.A. (Plantation) and Chocolates Maryanto S.A. (Chocolate Processing Factory) will most likely be Mariano Gomez (Future Agronomist and Plantation Manager) and Jose Antonio Gomez (Future Process Engineer and Factory Manager). They are already knee-deep in cacao and chocolate.

Jose Antonio Gomez (5)                   Mariano Gomez (6) with Mom

Future Process Engineer              Future Agronomist at the Plantation

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on DRAFT Master Plan For the Development and Operation of the world’s first integrated Criollo/Triniterio/Hybrid Cacao farm (near Tortuguero, Limon, Costa Rica)

Why fund, bank, broker and investment managers should listen to shareholders

Business and finance

London, 29th May, 2019

Ignoring investor concerns often does more harm than good

Maybe managers should get their fingers out of their ears and start listening to their investors. That is the conclusion of a recent paper by Clifford Holderness of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.

In America and a few other countries, boards can issue additional shares without shareholder approval. In some countries, shareholders must approve issuance above a certain threshold. And in yet others, investors must agree before any new stock can be created. So what happens to a company’s share price when new shares are issued?

Mr Holderness performed a meta-analysis of more than 100 studies of stock reactions around the world. He found that, when shareholders approved issuance in advance, the price tended to rise by an average of 2%. But when managers issued stock without shareholder approval, the share price declined by an average of 2%.

The simplest explanation for this differential lies in the agent-principal conflict between executives and investors. As Mr Holderness writes, if agency conflicts did not exist, “shareholder voting on equity issuance should not matter.” However, managers may want to issue shares to fund expansion of the company, allowing them to control more assets and demand a higher salary. Investors, meanwhile, may worry about the impact of such expansion on long-term returns and dislike the dilution of their control.

Another sign of agent-principal conflicts are shares that are privately placed with selected investors or used to pay for takeovers. In Australia, any offering of more than 15% of the equity must be subject to shareholder approval; in America, the threshold is 20%. In both countries, there is a clustering of share issuance just below the limit; managers go out of their way to avoid asking for approval. In April Occidental Petroleum promised $10bn worth of preferred shares to Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s conglomerate, should the oil company’s bid for Anadarko, a rival, succeed. This injection helped it avoid asking shareholders to authorise the Anadarko deal.

This disdain for shareholders’ views contradicts the ethos of American capitalism. The system works, it is usually argued, because companies respond to shareholder pressure and because broad share ownership gives everyone, including workers, a stake in the American dream. One of the reasons for the success of the private-equity model is that investors enjoy greater scrutiny over what managers do.

But when it comes to public companies, shareholders tend to be treated like an awkward uncle at a family gathering. Their only rights are to sell their shares or to vote against the reappointment of directors. In any other field, this would be extraordinary. Imagine you appointed a letting agent to look after your house and they decided to spend lots of your money on gold taps and chandeliers. When you complain, they respond that you are only entitled to sell the house, or fire them at the end of their contract.

Managers have long grumbled that shareholders want to interfere too much. A new complaint is that socially conscious investors may insist that firms concentrate on non-financial factors, like treating workers better or cutting emissions. This concern seems ill-founded. For example, research shows that companies voted the “best to work for” produce superior subsequent long-term returns.

More generally, the majority of meta-studies have found that companies with better ESG (environmental, social and governance) records improved their financial performance. Mr Holderness’s work puts the tin lid on the argument that managers should ignore investors. When it comes to shareholders, managers should remember the words of Diogenes: “We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.”

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Why fund, bank, broker and investment managers should listen to shareholders

Lessons for Canada from Brexit:

28th May, 2019

The Brexit debates in the UK Parliament are surreal. It is hard to believe the current incumbents of the UK Commons are working in the heart of modern democracy.

When the government decided to hold a referendum on Brexit, it consulted with the highest power in any democratic nation – the people. Following several months of intense political campaigning for and against, the people spoke. Leave the EU. It is hurting us.

Some politicians kept acting as if they had a choice. Initially they focused on negotiating an exit deal. The minority government did so. Opposition parties screamed: “Not good enough!”. Nothing would have been ‘good enough’ as many were opposed leaving the EU, and this was how they could throw a wrench in the works.

Opposition benches have managed to delay and stall an orderly and rational parting with the EU not because it is right, but because they can. They are not certain enough of their grounds to defeat the government and force a general election, so they continue with irresponsible demands.

MPs have forgotten that they are in breach of the nation’s highest court; the people of the UK. Exit deal or none, they must allow the UK to part company with the EU or be tried for treason. A public referendum is no less binding than a general election. The people have spoken. The decision to leave the EU was not made by Prime Minister May but it is the duty of Parliament to obey the order.

The Opposition is on thin ice causing the government to miss exit deadlines. It has no valid reasons for doing so. It is so intent on blaming Ms May for a referendum outcome, it is ignoring the people it was elected to serve. Political leaders and parties, including members of Ms May’s party, have turned one of the world’s oldest democratic institutions into a basket case. There is not one in the whole lot worthy of re-election. They have shown their colours and they are the Jolly Roger.

There are lessons for Canada in the UK debacle. Political parties are the ruination of democracy. When political infighting is more important than the responsibilities of governance, democracy is doomed. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has already hinted that she wants to follow the destructive and obstructive path that is tearing the UK parliament apart. She will do anything to obstruct a conservative minority following the next election. She too has flown the pirate flag and is unfit for office in a democracy.

Every parliamentarian, whether on the government or opposition benches has a duty to ensure that a government’s responsibilities are adequately and promptly carried out. The rest of it is widow dressing, allowable only as long as the fundamental responsibilities are dealt with. Our MPs spend all their time on window dressing and ignore their responsibilities.

Playing political games is more entertaining than the dreary duties of responsible governance. Saving the world is more attractive than wrestling with domestic issues and responsibilities.

The pretense that our federal government is a step above the provinces is nonsense. The federal and provincial governments have different powers and responsibilities. For decades, the federal government has blurred lines by encroaching on provincial jurisdictions. That is not good governance.

The federal government must mind its responsibilities and leave the provinces to mind theirs. That would remove many of the conflicts unconstitutional federal mucking about has created.

John Feldsted

Political Consultant & Strategist

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Posted in Op-Ed's in Major Publications | Comments Off on Lessons for Canada from Brexit: