Mars Wrigley’s Alex Arnaud Assanvo to lead key sustainability scheme

Alex Arnaud Assanvo, a director of corporate affairs for cocoa within Mars Wrigley’s European operations, has been appointed to lead a key sustainability scheme as executive secretary of the Ghana and Ivory Coast Cocoa Initiative, reports Neill Barston.

The 46-year-old is set to take up his role with the organisation in Accra, which has been established to help deliver the newly established Living Income Differential programme (LID), created to offer a vital financial boost to farming communities.

A core element of the recently introduced scheme revolves around premiums of $400 per tonne of cocoa paid to farmers, many of whom remain on wages below UN defined levels of poverty, supplying the confectionery sector.

Assanvo, who grew up in Ivory Coast, is to arrive at his post at a crucial time, with his home nation reportedly facing considerable challenges, as it battles to contain a surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

According to reports cited by the Reuters news agency, the West African country is facing a pile up of around 100,000 tonnes of cocoa, amounting to a third of its typical production for the season.

This comes as farmers are said to be struggling to sell their beans at the fixed minimum of $1.82 per kg, with demand considered to have weakened amid the pandemic, and potential pressures of paying the LID premium payments also said to be putting off traditional cocoa buyers within the market. Confectionery Production has approached the nation’s Conseil du Cafe-Cacao industry organisation for comment on the situation.

As observers have noted, the renewed coronavirus situation has come at a hugely challenging point for the cocoa sector, with Ghana and Ivory Coast providing over 60% of the market’s global supplies.

Despite such challenges, Assanvo is keenly awaiting the task ahead, having gained a considerable level of experience in the sector, which includes recently being named as a committee chairman on sustainability at CAOBISCO, the European chocolate trade association.

His career has included working form Mondelez International, and Fairtrade, joining Mars in 2013 as global programmes lead, and developed a specialism in sustainability objectives, engaging with a wide range of NGO’s ranging from Oxfam and Greenpeace, through to the United Nations. From there he served as director, international government relations for the company.

Speaking on his departure, Mars commented: “It is an honour for Alex to be called upon by his country to serve as the Executive Secretary of the Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire Cocoa Initiative, and a testament to the expertise he has gained from a successful international career. Of course, we are sad to see him leave Mars but recognise that in his new role he will be able to have even more influence to help create our shared ambition of a modern, inclusive and sustainable supply chain for cocoa. We wish him every success.”

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