Cocoa sector marketing venture aims to boost industry support in Africa

A new service aiming to boost marketing and qualitative assurance capabilities for cocoa companies in Africa is being launched by sector specialist Dr Kristy Leissle, who has spotted what she believes is a key gap in the industry.

Known as African Cocoa Marketplace Inc (ACM), the venture has set out to put farmers perspectives at the centre of the procurement process, to enable them to achieve more secure business relationships and greater respect as the women and men at the heart of the chocolate value chain.

Stll under ‘agile development,’ the platform was introduced to industry stakeholders at the recent Amsterdam Cocoa Week conference, where it was hailed as a ‘fantastic resource for linking markets, farmers, producer organizaJons, and cocoa operators.’

Dr. Kristy Leissle founded ACM after working as a cocoa consultant, scholar, educator, writer, and marketer for nearly twenty years.

Having spent a good portion of her career as a field researcher on cocoa farms across Africa – especially Ghana, where she lived for four years – Kristy said she has met countless farmers, traders, processors, and chocolate makers doing their best to maintain Africa’s cocoa excellence. She added that it is ‘really challenging for these women and men to show that excellence to buyers.’

Dr Leissle founded ACM, which has been in development for the past year, ‘to build upon her learnings of how to achieve authentic visibility into African cocoa value chains, and transform that knowledge into a business that can scale. ACM is creating a new model for cocoa trust and traceability.’

With more value added to ‘responsible procurement’ in the cocoa sector, the ACM pilot platform can help shape the future of cocoa trading by de-commoditising cocoa and making the procurement process more transparent, so farmers have a greater share in revenue from the sale of their beans.

The initiative’s pilot is open to Africa-based suppliers of cocoa, semi-finished products, chocolate, and other value-added products, as well as buyers of cocoa and cocoa products globally.

Benjamin Setor Gbadago, who leads ACM’s research and social media, said: ‘While developing the pilot, we have had to confront the issue of transparency. We are trying to understand as much as possible what the supply chain is like for the farmers as well as buyers. The problem is farmers have to provide all kinds of documentaJon to show proof of due diligence, but buyers rarely do. But the situaJon we are dealing with is a global challenge. Everyone should have to offer transparency.

“We want to make it possible for [producer organizaJons] to connect with as many buyers as possible, and transact business in a way that supports their vision. Soon, you will be able to type a few keywords into our app, and find the business partners who align with your brand. Then, you can negoJate a fair and transparent price for both parties.”

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