Puratos’s Belcolade Cacao-Trace on track to support cocoa farming community support goals

Puratos’s premium Belgian chocolate brand, Belcolade, has unveiled its latest annual report of its Cacao-Trace cocoa sector initiative, which has revealed it remains on track to reach its goal of up to 50,000 farmers around the world achieve a living income, writes Neill Barston.

The scheme was introduced just over a decade ago, and has centred on boosting support through increased pay rates and improving living conditions, including enhancing healthcare and access to education for children as part of wider community engagement strategies.

As Confectionery Production has reported this past month, living income has come under a renewed spotlight amid spiralling cocoa prices that have reached Futures market highs in New York, trading at around $10,000 a tonne, which has caused significant concern within the sector, with farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast typically receiving government contracts for crops at a fifth of these levels, at $1,800 per tonne.

However, cocoa communities welcomed a move from authorities within the region to raise farm gate payments by 50% for the next harvest within both nations – though this still remains significantly short of global commercial trading Futures market levels.

For its part, Puratos explained that its latest report showcased milestone achievements in 2023, and important progress in the journey to improve sustainability across the chocolate and cocoa-based product chain. Notably, Cacao-Trace has made its most significant contribution to-date to cocoa growing communities, reaching over 23,000 farmers and their families, across eight countries, in 2023.

As the business explained, in 2023, the Cacao-Trace program collected a €2.4 million Chocolate Bonus, which will be shared with farming communities in 2024 – either as cash donations or via community projects. The Chocolate Bonus, which corresponds to a 0.10€ (10 cents) bonus for every kg of high-quality chocolate sold to Cacao-Trace customers, directly benefits the growers of Cacao-Trace high-standard cocoa beans. Over the past year, the Chocolate Bonus continued to strengthen community projects in Côte d’Ivoire, Papua New Guinea and Uganda, and for the first time in 2023, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The programme was launched back in 2013 as a proprietary responsible cocoa sourcing standard, the scheme aims to make the chocolate industry more responsible. Based on the premise of ‘Great Taste, Doing Good’, Cacao-Trace is committed to creating a more sustainable cocoa industry for everyone involved, while ensuring its chocolate and cocoa-based products deliver great taste – through a superior fermentation processes.

Moreover, the latest report also highlights the progress being made to improve agroforestry in key cocoa-growing regions. In 2023, 199,302 trees were planted, taking the total to 626,322 towards the program’s target of 3.44 million trees by 2030. Replanting trees is a key element of the program’s strategy, to help safeguard cocoa cultivation and restore biodiversity.

Aimed at supporting local cocoa farming communities through improved income, better education and healthcare facilities, the Cacao-Trace program provided 46 essential pieces of water equipment and contributed to the construction and renovation of twelve primary school projects across these regions.

In addition, the report has revealed never-seen-before figures for the Cacao-Trace Quality Premium: the financial reward cocoa farmers receive for the high-quality beans they produce, regardless of how much chocolate is sold. In 2023, €1.5m Quality Premium was paid, aimed at increasing farmers’ income and improving their living conditions in the long term. The Quality Premium ensures that every farmer receives the money they deserve, based on the quality of beans delivered.

“The Chocolate Bonus is one of the cornerstones of our Cacao-Trace program, so being able to increase the amount collected every year has had an enormous impact on the communities where we operate,” according to Youri Dumont, director of the chocolate business unit at Puratos. “We’re dedicated to ensuring a long-term positive effect, a proportion of the Chocolate Bonus is allocated to the maintenance of projects, to help future generations benefit from investments in education and health infrastructures as well. Thanks to the increase in Chocolate Bonus last year, along with other crucial Cacao-Trace initiatives, we’re absolutely on track to reach our 2030 goals.”


Related content

Leave a reply

Confectionery Production