Cocoa trees grow in hot, rainy tropical areas within 20 degrees of latitude from the Equator. The cocoa harvest usually takes several months and in many countries it can be harvested all year. In Australia, cocoa is grown in Far North Queensland (FNQ), including at Charley’s Mt Edna Mission Beach plantation. There are about 30 hectares of plantations in FNQ and a similar area under cultivation in Hawaii.
The three main varieties of cocoa are Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario. Forastero is 80–90 per cent of world production. The Criollo variety is rare and considered a delicacy. However, its plantations are low yielding and disease prone. Venezuela is one of the largest producers of Criollo cocoa,. Trinitario, a Criollo and Forastero hybrid, is higher in quality than Forastero, has higher yields and is less susceptible to disease than Criollo.
The ranking of chocolate consumption by country varies by information source; Switzerland, though, consistently ranks first. In this ranking, Australia is ninth.