European Cocoa Forum set to address major confectionery supply chain issues

Major issues facing the confectionery sector’s supply chains, including the potential for use of Blockchain payment systems, are set to come under the microscope at this week’s European Cocoa Forum.

The event, which is being staged in Lisbon, Portugal, will examine how new technology influencing trading and price behaviour in cocoa and what’s its potential impact on price volatility may be compared against traditional models of commerce.

Some of the main topics of conversation will be around the opportunities and also challenges are emerging for the application of blockchain. If blockchain matters, how can it add value? How can satellite technology improve traceability and curb forest degradation? How is value distributed in the European Chocolate value chains?

The 7th European Cocoa Forum, from 17-19 September 2019, has organised a specific panel discussion with high-level speakers on “Values in cocoa, new technologies and unblocking the blockchain” to help answer these questions and more.

Confirmed panellists for the event include: Jonathan Parkman (Joint Head of Agriculture, Marex Financial), Mischa Tripoli (Economist, Trade and Markets Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations),  Rob McWilliam (Global Director, Earthworm Foundation/Airbus Defence & Space), Christophe Alliot (Director, BASIC).

The second panel of four will revolve around four main themes examines how can price volatility and financial speculation affect the cocoa futures markets, as well as how new technologies may be applied to agriculture derivative markets in the near future.

Areas of debate will look at the outcomes of the recent FAO report on “Emerging opportunities for the application of blockchain in the Agri-food industry” and notably how Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) can simplify and integrate supply chains, enhance food safety, reduce costs and risks in trade finance while increasing access to agricultural financial opportunities. The potential for such systems to improve transparency and traceability within supply chains will be a key topic, as will how such systems can help with climate change mitigation.

Another area of focus will be the new Airbus/Earthworm “Starling” programme, using satellite technologies, to help report forestry changes and verify compliance with sustainable sourcing – which remains a major goal for confectionery businesses.

Furthermore, the findings of the “ECA/EU/FAO comparative study of the distribution of value in European Chocolate chains, which will see preliminary results released during the event.

The purpose of this study, elaborated jointly by the European Cocoa Association, the European Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, is to estimate the detailed value distribution of different chocolate bars over the last 15 years from cocoa farmers in West Africa and Latin America down to consumers in France.

The study also provides estimated percentages of value accruing to farmers for the different chocolate products and producing countries analysed (Cameroon, Ecuador, Ghana, Ivory Coast). Additionally, it compares this percentage with other targeted mass-consumed products sold in French supermarkets. In addition, the value distribution analysis includes a crucial investigation on local contexts for cocoa growing, structural differences between value chains, business dynamics and on prices and costs evolution.

Also part of the forum, the last two panels will relate to optimising cocoa quality, addressing key food safety regulatory challenges, new fermentation approaches; and raising the integrity and credibility of the cocoa supply chain in tackling deforestation and child labour.

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