Chocoa hones in on sustainability
Travelling to Amsterdam for the latest edition of Chocoa, there is a strong sense of anticipation surrounding its key conference element.
It is perhaps no surprise that its core theme centres on sector sustainability, which remains perhaps the most pressing of all challenges facing the industry.
This is reflected by the calibre of speakers which includes Nestle, Barry Callebaut and the Solidaridad charitable organisation, which supports those working within core farming communities.
As we have previously reported, it is encouraging to see major companies now working together in a far more joined-up manner to tackle how best to assist the very people on the frontline of supplying raw materials for the confectionery trade.
One direct solution put forward by government figures representing the key cocoa growing nations of Ivory Coast and Ghana in Africa lies in placing an additional levy on consignments of cocoa as a means of redressing the decline in its commercial value over the past two decades.
In theory, this sounds like a rational means of solving a growing problem, but with many farmers presently operating below the poverty line, even further action is realistically required in order to maintain the sector.
Beyond simply ensuring the financial viability of the industry, there remain major concerns over the continued use of child labour within farming processes, which is a matter that the likes of Barry Callebaut, Nestle, Mars and Mondelez International are all actively working to deliver tangible change – but it’s a huge problem in its own right that directly links into the broader issue of wider poverty prevailing in many of the countries that play a pivotal role within the industry.
These issues and more besides are set to be discussed over the next coupe of days, and it will be interesting to see if any consensus emerges on the best way forward in solving what has become a situation of crisis, according to a number of senior representatives of those very farmers who are becoming increasingly frustrated by the situation.
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