The quality of raw cocoa beans depends widely on their free fatty acids (FFA) content. High FFA content is a serious quality defect and reduces the technical and economic value of the cocoa beans. The work investigates the influence of cocoa processing technologies on FFA formation during storage of raw cocoa beans. Different samples of ferment dried cocoa beans purchased from Cote d’Ivoire were stored and analysed for FFA content. Very low FFA contents were found in whole healthy cocoa beans generally complied with UE standards (1.75% oleic acid equivalent) throughout storage while high FFA content was found in poor quality and broken healthy beans. The formation of FFA did not depend on the genotype or on cocoa post-harvest processing technologies. However, high and increasing FFA contents were observed in defective cocoa beans and could be attributed probably to the activity of microflora which in turn were associated with initial quality and loss of physical integrity of the cocoa beans.
Key words: Raw cocoa beans, processing technologies, free fatty acids content.
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