Cargill joins 2023’s World Confectionery Conference

With momentum fast gathering pace for this year’s returning World Confectionery Conference, our dynamic range of major speakers is developing significantly. Taking place under a combined banner of sustainability, business resilience and industry innovation, preparations are building decisively for its hosting in the UK for our 2023 edition.

Among our confirmed keynote speakers for our showcase taking place on 5 October, at Harrogate Convention Centre, includes Barbara Blohberger, vice president of Caobisco European confectionery industry trade body, as well as Francesco Tramontin, Ferrero’s vice president, EU institutional relations and group public policy. (you can register directly for the conference via our dedicated website here).

The event will also be supported by John Newell, ingredients advisor for Nestlé, based at York, UK, delving into flavour development within significant new product ranges. Joining the line-up is Surmaya Talyarkhan, senior sustainability sourcing manager at Fairtrade, offering a perspective on its ongoing work in cocoa supply chains, plus a presentation from chocolatier Sophie Jewett, managing director of York Cocoa House.

She will also lead our optional second day of activities on 6 October in her home city, which is known as the UK’s ‘capital of chocolate’ for its long association with some of the country’s most renowned sweets and confectionery brands.

Our core conference will also see a significant trends presentation from Mike Hughes, head of research and insights for the FMCG Gurus group, exploring key consumer patterns. Significantly, the latest to join the ranks of the conference will be Waleed Nasir (pictured below), sustainability business lead at Cargill, who is forging his career in supporting the company’s programmes supporting key communities within its cocoa supply chains.

Speaking exclusively to Confectionery Production, he expressed his enthusiasm for the company’s core mission, as it reaches its ten-year milestone of its Cocoa Promise, pledging backing to those farmers central to the viability of the industry.

Having joined the business eighteen months ago, his arrival comes as the company continues to make a progress tackling ongoing significant environmental issues of deforestation, social issues of child labour within supply chains, as well as engaging with broader community support, including women’s empowerment schemes to help farmers develop additional income streams and enhance economic management knowledge.

“For me, it’s really exciting to be able to meet customers and peers in person, and stakeholders, so it’s been a while since pandemic restrictions have been lifted, but this is one of those opportunities to have interaction on topics such as sustainability, so I am sure we will have some really good discussions that I will look forward to,” added Waleed, who has worked within the sustainability sector for the past five years having joined Cargill from DSM.

As he revealed, he described his role as being effectively like a translator between its core sustainability operations and balancing this against the company’s broader goals. Notably, Waleed observed that one of its core targets as a business is through feeding global populations across its global agricultural interests, which it has recognised needs to place sustainability at its forefront.

This also requires acknowledgment that significant challenges within global marketplaces still remain, and will require collective action to drive positive change. “I think when it comes to Cargill, what we try to do in particular for the food and ingredients space, is to feed the world. Inherently, this is a sustainable thing to do – how do we do that in the best way possible? By doing the right things. “With the cocoa supply chain, through our flagship sustainability programme, the Cargill Cocoa Promise, we produce a portfolio for our customers, so that they can have the right kind of impact on the communities that we source from.

“Through this process, it’s a matter of how we measure and improve, and that with that data and information, that it is connected, so we can then plan the interceptions that we need to make,” added Waleed, who said supporting communities on the ground is of vital importance to its work. As he asserted, the Cargill Cocoa Promise programme is a concept that has been embraced by its customers, and believed that it had proved a strong framework to base its activities around.

“Over ten years, the company made significant impact working with local partners, which is the most important part in helping get this to a level that we can all appreciate. “There’s still a long way to go, and it is still ten years young. There’s a lot more need for innovation, which we are actively working towards,” he reflected on the initiative, which comes alongside other wider actions from governments, industry and civil society in the region to improve conditions for farmers. This includes the introduction of a living income differential payment of $400 a tonne of cocoa, which has been instigated by Ghana and Ivory Coast governments, as well as environmental measures such as the Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI) targeting co-ordinating plans to preserve and regenerate forested areas – that have been significantly depleted over the past five decades due to broader industrial activity, including from the cocoa sector.

Challenging conditions
As we have previously covered, the critical regional West African countries that form the bulk of the supply chain for the industry have faced significant challenges beyond tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, including major increases in vital crop fertilisers, as well as comparatively low prices gained for their harvests in recent years. This in combination with other significant factors – including ongoing social factors, namely child labour impacting 1.5 million minors in Ghana and Ivory Coast, as well as insufficient access to basic requirements of clean water sources, has placed renewed pressures on communities that are already struggling from the most recent costs of living crisis affecting communities on a global scale.

The issue has continued to be raised by organisations including Fairtrade, which has instituted a practice of paying additional premiums for cocoa supplies in West Africa in a bid to drive further progress towards a living wage. For its part, Cargill has engaged with the Global Water Challenge over the past two years order to help accelerate clean water access and empower the sector’s farming communities in the region. As the company noted, water scarcity remains a global issue, with shortages affecting more than 40 per cent of the world’s population. According to many climate analysts, expanding populations and the impact of global warming means that this will be an issue for the foreseeable future.

Also earlier this year, the company noted the UN day of International Education offered a chance to reflect on its actions. This has included assistance to farming regions serving the global confectionery sector has been delivered through a number of core programmes, such as building schools – vital in the ongoing fight against child labour, helping people obtain birth certificates and training for adults.

World Confectionery Awards

Following the success of our World Confectionery Awards for our debut live show, they will be returning once again for our 2023 event. While there may be ongoing challenges facing global economies, there are many reasons to highlight achievements across our fields of business. Traditionally, confectionery, snacks and bakery markets have often been at the centre of wider industry innovation, which we aim to put firmly in the spotlight. With many outstanding developments across our sector, and as our parent company, Bell Publishing, passes more than two decades of publishing, we believed the timing was right to ensure significant developments and breakthroughs are recognised. The awards, voted for entirely by professionals across the industry will mark supplier innovations across equipment, ingredients and finished product market segments.

They will be presented as part of our 2023 event, which will encompass guests from the complete spectrum of the industry, from a wealth of small and medium enterprises, as well as larger businesses from around the globe. In total, there will be five supplier awards presented. Each business will be allowed to nominate a maximum of one company innovation into each of these honours.

Equipment innovation – Dedicated to the overall design of new or existing equipment • Sustainability – Focused on initiatives delivering greater efficiency for equipment and systems for confectionery and snacks sectors • Team of the year – Marking a specific team’s contribution’s and achievement to an individual business • Ingredients innovation – Celebrating major breakthroughs in ingredients • Best finished product – Showcasing dynamic new finished product confectionery lines The awards are free to enter, with companies able to place entries until 8 August 2023 to nominate in each respective category. Place your entries via our dedicated website at


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