Chocoa unveils major industry names for 2021 virtual event

The Chocoa cocoa and chocolate trade fair has unveiled major industry figures for its online event, including an opening address from ICCO executive director Michel Arrion, and representatives from Nestlé, Cargill, and the Solidaridad organisation, reports Neill Barston.

As the countdown to the sector showcase being held virtually between 24-26 February continues, organisers have confirmed that its core theme of sustainability for the sector will encompass a broad spectrum of topical issues.

Speaking to Confectionery Production in a preview interview for the event, co-founder Jack Steijn, of cocoa consultancy business Equipoise, explained that he believed there was a strong demand for continuing the fair online amid the pandemic, in light of being able to stage its full three-day festival in its traditional physical format staged each February in Amsterdam.

As he noted, with 2021 being designated as the International Year for the Elimination of Child labour, the online conference’s will take this as one of its core themes. It will address perpetuating problems and solutions that could lead to eradication of the issue – which still impacts on around 1.5 million children in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Topics such as re-thinking diversification, agroforestry, and digitisation are headlining at this year’s Amsterdam Sustainable Cocoa Conference (ASCC), which forms one of the show’s centrepieces, and opens the discussion between sustainable cocoa professionals.

Another of its core elements is the Chocolate makers Forum (CMF), in which artisans from across the sector will discuss sustainability matters, as well as the challenges and opportunities in promising markets for high-quality cocoa and chocolate.

Topics such as communicating sustainability efforts, the future of organic, and adding value to cocoa & chocolate will be headlining. The CMF includes a joint session with the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) discussing how to boost the craft chocolate market and expand to the US & Europe (see our latest video with Bill Guyton, who will be speaking at Chocoa 2021.

Besides hosting their usual quality presentations and engaging discussions on important sustainability issues, Chocoa stands out by offering unique virtual networking experiences.

As promised, their innovative Network Plaza offers space to arrange formal and informal meetings throughout the event, as well as dedicated matchmaking carousels. This feature allows participants to randomly meet interesting people just as they would at a physical event.

The matchmaking carousel matches participants based on tags they have chosen, ensuring they will be matched with someone who meets their interests.  For example, if they classify as a cocoa seller they will be matched with cocoa buyers. Chocoa 2021 aims to connect the entire sustainable cocoa industry.

Organisers have set out to provide three days full of virtual networking, knowledge exchange, and business opportunities. As participants can join Chocoa virtually from all over the world, they expect participants from more origins than ever. Partners such as DISCO, FCIA, WINCC, PromPerú, and Port of Amsterdam have joined already.

The final programme has yet to be released, but includes sessions on ‘Data, Digitisation and supply chain transparency’  featuring contributions from Susanne Uittenbogaard, Cargill, Megan Passey, ICI, and Michael Chrisment, of FarmerConnect.

A further session, Agroforestry, the transformative power of cocoa will see a presentation from Felipe Vilela, of Re-Nature ( who has been named by Forbes top 30 of most influential young people), as well as a topic on Re-thinking diversification with Nico Roozen of Solidaridad. A further element focused on Impact Investment, will be led by Peter Heijen.

Last year, Chocoa introduced its Late Night Show at Noon show, which took on the format of a late night chat show, evaluating a number of key sector themes on how the cocoa sector engages with consumers and its wider role in sustainability.

This year’s virtual version will see Carla Martin of FCCI speaking on the topic of the impact of Covid on specialty cocoa, as well as an examination of producing chocolate made entirely from  cocoa fruits using cocoa pulp as a sweetener’ speaker, with Dr. Joselio Viera, PTC York, Nestlé Global confectionery. For more information on the full programme, visit the website




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