Question: Where Does Cocoa Grow?
Answer: We’re frequently asked where cocoa grows. Most people understand that cocoa does not grow in cold climates, but they often don’t know where cocoa grows successfully. To answer this question, it’s a good idea to know under what conditions cocoa grows best. First, cocoa trees cannot tolerate cold or drought or wind (the wood of a cocoa tree is very soft, so a lot of wind could easily destroy the tree). Cocoa grows best where there are year-round temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees F. Constant high humidity and heavy rainfall (40 to 100 inches annually) are required for cocoa trees to grow well. Cocoa also requires a lot of light to grow, but the trees don’t tolerate high UV levels in sunlight, such as occur at higher altitudes. Conditions like these are most often found in the so-called Cocoa Belt or Chocolate Belt. This is a narrow band running up to 20 degrees latitude north and south of the equator.
The three top producers of cocoa beans worldwide are Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia. The following list, while not complete, will give you a good idea of other places where cocoa grows:
Martinique / St. Lucia
USA (South Florida and Hawai’i; there are no commercial plantations in South Florida)