The Criollo tree is native to Central and South America and is one of the oldest, rarest and finest cocoa varieties on the planet. But it is particularly difficult to grow and extremely vulnerable to a variety of environmental threats.

In 2008, to protect this ancient and endangered species, Puratos purchased cultivable land in Tikul, in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. By planting more than 100.000 trees there, we aim not just to produce a chocolate with unique taste properties, but also to preserve the ecology and biodiversity of the area by providing a haven for a wide range of wildlife.

The project also provides a safe and stable working environment for local communities with workers offered the chance to train in post-harvest methods that will allow them to prepare a good fermented cocoa.

Criollo and the Cacao Ecomuseum

Tikul is a long-term investment that contributes to environmental conservation, sustainable tourism, and the welfare of those living and working in the area. 

Today, the project in Tikul has two parts:

  • The innovative 740 acre/300 hectare plantation, which grows and safeguards the criollo cocoa tree, one of the oldest, rarest and finest species of cocoa in the world.
  • The Cacao Ecomuseum where tourists can learn about cocoa and local Mayan culture. It was opened in 2011.

Helping people and the environment

Currently, the cocoa plantation provides shelter for a wide range of local plants and animals. One of our aims, however, is to build on this biodiversity by planting more than 100,000 extra trees. 

We also aim to help the local people by ensuring that the plantation and Ecomuseum contribute both directly and indirectly to employment, and that we guarantee a safe working environment. Finally, we want the project to help local artisans by promoting the relationship between cocoa and the Mayan culture. In this way, we aim to ensure a sustainable future for all of those connected to the production of cocoa.

If you want to find out more about our project in Tikul – or want to know about ways you can help - please visit our Contacts page.