Cargill completes $100 million expansion work on core Ivory Coast cocoa processing site
A major venture from Cargill has been completed, as it unveils a $100 million expansion of its cocoa processing facilities in Yopougon, Ivory Coast, which is believed to be the largest grinding plant of its kind in Africa, reports Neill Barston.
According to the company, its investment aims to deliver transformational change for the region’s industry, and allows the company to significantly enhance its processing capabilities, increasing production capacity by a projected 50 per cent.
It will also enable significant infrastructure and safety enhancements, and has been undertaken in response to heightened global demand for its product ranges for the global chocolate and confectionery sector.
The move also creates nearly 100 full-time local jobs, as well as hundreds of indirect jobs linked to its activities. Notably, a significant share of the plant’s additional processing capacity will supply high demand, dark brown cocoa powders.
Notably, the business has been present in Ivory coast for over 20 years, opening its Yopougon plant in 2000, with its upgrades now processing cocoa powder, cocoa butter, liquid cocoa liquor and solid cocoa liquor, as high-quality ingredients that are exported around the world.
“Consumers, especially in Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African markets, are increasingly drawn to bakery and confectionery products with the strong, chocolatey visual appeal made possible by rich, deep brown cocoa powders,” said Niels Boetje, Cocoa managing director for Cargill’s Cocoa & Chocolate business. “With the new technology installed at our Yopougon plant, we’re now better equipped to supply the full range of our customers’ needs, from delicate light to intensely dark Gerkens cocoa powders.”
As Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate noted, the company believes the newly extended site will serve as a launch-pad for wider sector developments.
He said: “This investment will serve as a catalyst for the establishment of a broader, local agri-food industry, as we shift a greater share of our global grinding activities to the countries of origin.”
By partnering with governments and other key stakeholders in West Africa, Poelma said Cargill aims to drive economic growth in cocoa-origin countries through the company’s cocoa-processing operations, sustainability activities and other collaborations.
The Cargill Cocoa Promise, which is the company’s commitment to improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities while growing cocoa sustainably, helps support this wider goal.
As part of that commitment, Cargill will invest $13 million over the next year in expanded and new programming to create stronger, more resilient cocoa-farming communities in Ivory Coast. This includes nearly $6 million to support farmer coaching and training efforts, alongside an additional $3.5 million aimed at expanding traceability projects in the world’s top cocoa-producing nation.
These efforts will include work to increase financial traceability to cocoa farmers in Cargill’s direct supply chain. To date, Cargill has linked more than 20,000 West African farmers to banks and mobile network operators. In the coming years, the company aims to connect 140,000 more cocoa producers to financial institutions, enabling direct, digital payments.
This information is fed into Cargill’s CocoaWise digital platform, making it possible to track in full detail how premium payments made by customers for sustainable-verified cocoa and direct sustainability projects are distributed and invested. Other aspects of traceability, including physical cocoa bean traceability using electronic tracking and impact transparency are also part of the CocoaWise platform.