Monday, February 01, 2016

The sweet bitter truth on cocoa

Africa supplies 76 percent of world’s cocoa. West Africa alone cumulatively supplies two thirds of the global cocoa, as Ivory Coast leads the pack with 1.65 million tonnes. This is followed by Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo which altogether produce 1.55 million tonnes. Cocoa is also grown in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia and Sao Tome & Principe. while about 76 per cent of total cocoa produced is from Africa, less than five per cent of the wealth in the value chain is retained in the continent.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says the crop’s by-products are consumed mainly in industrialised countries, with major buyers being the chocolate processing and confectionary industry. Exporters of raw cocoa get approximately $10 billion a year, but the total annual value of chocolates, all made from cocoa, is over $100 billion, according to Olusegun Aganga, Nigeria’s immediate past minister for industry, trade and investment. Aganga explained at the Nigerian Cocoa Value Addition Summit in 2014 that the total value of all finished goods made from cocoa is estimated to be as high as $200 billion a year. Africa is missing in this big market. Many African cocoa producers have failed to emulate Brazil and Malaysia, where the local processing industry absorbs most of the production.

Forbes conducted a search for the ten world’s biggest chocolate consumers. No African country is on the list. Countries on the list include Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Norway. Others are Sweden Australia, the Netherlands, the United States and France. It is instructive that the production plants of major candy and chocolate makers, which depend on cocoa from Africa for production, are all outside Africa. Amano Artisan, Askinosie, Biommer, Castronovo, Equal Exchange, Guittard, Mars, Mast Brothers, among many others are in the United States. Others such as Domori, Bonnat, Barry Callebaut, Hachez, Haigh’s, Royce, Thorntons, among hundreds of others, are scattered around Europe, Australia and Asia.

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