Studies performed by Fundación Maquipucuna researchers and consultants found that shade-grown coffee and cacao could become a great economic alternative to benefit thousands of farmers, help protect the remaining forests and serve as habitat for many wildlife species along the Chocó Andean corridor.
Between 1200 and 2400 meters above sea level, the corridor has the most apt land to cultivate fine arabica coffee beans. The lowlands, are the ideal environment to produce Ecuador's famous fine aroma cacao. Both crops have been promoted by the foundation only to transform degraded pasture lands into productive and more biodiversity friendly areas.
Both coffee and cacao are commodities with mature markets, which is a good thing. However, the downside is that cacao and coffee prices fluctuate obeying to speculative pricing of the stock market. To overcome the negative consequences of boom-boost pricing on farmers' economy, Maquipucuna has proposed the production of only the highest quality coffee and cacao appreciated in specialty markets.
With the growth of specialty coffee markets and coffeehouses in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of differences in coffee quality. They are starting to appreciate differences between blends and single origin coffees, and to be able to match a roast to a particular coffee brand. A key instrument in that pricing strategy is the creation of a Denomination of Origin branding and marketing as a guarentee of quality, social and environmental responsibility of products marketed directly to consumers globally.