Hello everyone: I've been doing research into Samoan chocolate. Twenty years ago it had one of the best reputations in the world with most of its crop being classified as "fine and flavour" (top ICCO category). Today, despite having 5000 acres of fine cocoa, Samoa has only a (very strong) domestic market and a (very small) export to New Zealand (Samoans). I'm working on a plan to revive Samoa's chocolate industry with a group of NGOs and private sector. One of the things I'm researching is what led to Samoa's decline. I've come up with the following narrative, and I'd appreciate if anyone can add or change anything to it. Kind regards, Howard Frederick Mamor Chocolates in Melbourne Australia
- The mid-seventies were Samoas peak period in terms of cocoa earnings. Cocoa exports had been declining from the early 1960s to 1972, but from 1972-1977 world cocoa prices septupled, and average receipts were US$5.83 million per year. Exports peaked in 1977 at a level that was never to be achieved again. The problem was that, although the industry had been prospering, yield had been declining from the 1960s due to the widespread adoption of poor planting material. Thus cocoa export values declined during the early 1980s due to the triple effect of falls in prices, decline in quality, and decline in yields.
- But a recovery of sorts began in 1983 after a cocoa rehabilitation program in the 1970s and early 1980s that entailed replanting areas with high-yielding, more disease-resistant but less flavourful Amelonado varieties. The volume of cocoa bean exports almost trebled and their unit value almost doubled, remaining above US$1 million until 1987. For the remainder of the decade, however, falling world prices led to a rapid decline in cocoa export values that were only US$0.26 million in 1989.
- The decline to this date had nothing to do with cyclones. Samoas planting of amelonado substantial premium traditionally earned by Samoan cocoa in world markets when Trinitario cocoa dominated, making it eligible for sale as 'fine or flavour' cocoa, had disappeared. Samoan beans were being sold at an appreciable discount by 1982-83 and quality continued to deteriorate throughout the 1980s due to poor fermentation, drying and storage practices, and increased plantings of the lower-value Amelonado cocoa varieties.
- The death blow came when devastating natural and biological disasters destroyed the industry. These included Cyclone Ofa in February 1990 and Cyclone Val in December 1991, the latter being the most devastating cyclone to hit the country in a century.
- Despite aid-funded efforts in the 1980s to rehabilitate cocoa, chronic problems evident in previous decades persisted into the final decade in these industries. The devastating effects of Cyclones Ofa and Val, and the drought that followed Cyclone Ofa, compounded the negative impact of an extended period of low world prices and virtually destroyed the cocoa industry from 1990 to 2000.
- Tree losses of 20-30% were heavy due to the long duration of the cyclones and the long exposure to salt spray. Trees older than 10 years were the most affected. After virtually no exports to 1996, cocoa export values at least recovered to US$44,000 in 1996, but exports remained at negligible levels throughout the decade. 
 Euan Fleming and Anita Blowes, Export Performance in South Pacific Countries Marginally Endowed with Natural Resources: Samoa and Tonga, 1960 to 1999, University of New England, Graduate School of Agricultural and Resource Economics & School of Economics, No. 2003-8 August 2003, Working Paper Series in Agricultural and Resource Economics. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/12942/1/wp030008.pdf
updated by @howard-hanna-frederick: 04/15/15 12:44:14AM