Cacao Quality Lab Associate Team Leader, Cacao of Excellence Programme

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The Organization

Cacao of Excellence, led by the CGIAR’s Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), is a neutral global platform that brings together the public and private sector to discover, promote, and reward cacao producers of excellence from all origins, focusing on superior cacao quality and flavour diversity. Since 2009, the platform has held the prestigious global Cacao of Excellence Awards, celebrating, and rewarding the work of cacao producers and showcasing the diversity of exceptional flavours worldwide. By leading cacao research, discovering exceptional producers and training the next generation of value chain actors, Cacao of Excellence’s is supporting the expansion of superior quality cacao, ensuring more producers thrive as empowered entrepreneurs.

The CGIAR Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) delivers research-based solutions that harness agricultural biodiversity and sustainably transform food systems to improve people’s lives. Alliance solutions address the global crises of malnutrition, climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation. With novel partnerships, the Alliance generates evidence and mainstreams innovations to transform food systems and landscapes so that they sustain the planet, drive prosperity, and nourish people in a climate crisis. The Alliance is part of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.  /   /


About the position

Based in Rome, Italy, and under the direct supervision of the Programme Manager of the Cacao of Excellence Programme, the Cacao Quality Lab Associate Team Leader will be responsible for managing all activities of the Cacao of Excellence lab in Rome, including processing the cacao bean samples and training trainers from origins visiting the lab. The Cacao Quality Lab Associate Team Leader will also be expected to manage the facility and work closely with the Alliance Headquarters Facilities and Logistics Unit and the team members.



  • Organize the laboratory activities and facilities, working closely with the Alliance Facilities and Logistics Unit and under the guidance of the Programme Manager.
  • Contribute to the design, planning and organizing of work plans.
  • Execute professional tasks that support the implementation of the Cacao of Excellence Programme
  • Process cacao bean samples.
  • Take charge of conducting train-the-trainer workshops, providing training to trainers from various origins who visit the laboratory.
  • Plan, define and optimise the physical analysis and processing of samples into cacao mass and chocolate for the competition and other programme needs.
  • Process all cacao bean samples into cacao liquor and process selected cacao beans into chocolate for sensory evaluation.
  • Train and supervise the technical personnel involved in the processing of samples and the use of equipment and tools.
  • Train scientists and experts visiting the lab in the processing of cacao bean samples from physical analysis to cacao mass and chocolate.
  • Advise on the purchase of equipment, tools, packaging materials, ingredients and consumables needed in the laboratory for the processing of cacao bean samples into liquor and chocolate.
  • Organise the shipment of samples in the competition to the Technical Committee, Jury, microbiological analysis, cacao butter content analysis, and others in collaboration with other team members and HQ staff.
  • Provide training in sensory analysis, panel management, and the use of Cacao of Excellence (CoEx) sensory analysis tools.
  • Support the general development of activities associated with the Awards competition.
  • Contribute in various ways to cacao research activities led by the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and of the One CGIAR.
  • Develop all technical communications for the technical committee.
  • Support events at the lab and visits from partners/stakeholders.
  • Compile scientific information for the preparation of reports and grants.
  • Prepare presentations for meetings and conferences, write scientific documents, and contribute to various publications.
  • Assist in the development of project proposals for funding as needed.
  • Represent the Alliance and the Cacao of Excellence Programme at events as agreed upon with the supervisor.


Essential requirements

  • Master’s degree in agricultural economics, food technology, agro-ecology, agronomy, food supply chains or related fields.
  • Preferably five (5) years of relevant experience in agroecology or food technology from a research, private sector, or policy perspective, preferably within an international organization.
  • Specific knowledge and experience in the cocoa and chocolate sector, as well as an understanding of sensory analysis and statistics.
  • Experience with designing, implementing, and analyzing qualitative and quantitative research frameworks.
  • Excellent facilitation, communication, and interpersonal skills, including the ability to effectively interact with people at all levels and build consensus in a multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary environment.
  • Well-developed organizational skills with the ability to deliver on time and manage numerous tasks simultaneously.
  • Fluent command of English, written and spoken.


Desirable requirements

  • Experience with international cooperation and / or international organizations, and in project management, capacity building and technical assistance will be an asset.
  • Knowledge of French and/or Spanish as second languages is a plus.
  • Experience with systematic literature reviews and other literature-based data collection.
  • Experience working in interdisciplinary programmes related to agriculture, environment and development studies preferred.


Terms of employment

This is a locally recruited position which will be based in Rome, Italy. The salary is level 8, on a scale of 14 levels, with level 14 being the highest. The salary range starts from Euro 50,030 per annum. The Alliance offers an attractive remuneration package which includes a competitive salary, leave provisions, medical and life insurance, and non-contributory retirement plan. The contract will be for a period of 2 years, subject to a probationary period of 6 months, and is renewable based on performance and availability of funds.

Please note that eligible applicants must have the legal status to live and work in Italy:

  • Be Italian nationals holding a valid passport or identity card.
  • Or be EU citizens holding a valid passport or identity card and confirmation of registration from the Registrar’s Office (Anagrafe).
  • Or Non – EU citizens holding a valid Italian work permit (permesso di soggiorno per lavoro subordinato).



Please apply online through the website ( no later than 17 December 2023, attaching a curriculum vitae, motivation letter, both in English, and contact information (e.g. names, email address) of at least three references. Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.


Closing date for applications: 17 December 2023

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