Chocolate is product that brings joy to chocolate lovers. There are, however, structural issues in the chocolate value chain, a key issue being cocoa farmer poverty. At Barry Callebaut, we aim to transform the way cocoa is produced by enhancing the existing farming model in West Africa, and beyond.
Challenges faced by cocoa farmers
Most of the world's cocoa (almost two-thirds) comes from Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, where it is cultivated by mostly independent smallholder farmers who supply various companies, and sometimes via several cooperatives. It is common for farmers to work on multiple fields, owning some of the plots while leasing others, often struggling with nutrient depleted soil, and aging cocoa trees. Cocoa farming is mainly done by manual labor carried out by farmers and their families.
Many cocoa farmers struggle to make a living income. Their main challenge is access to investments in their farms. Currently they spend most of their time doing post-harvest activities. Increasing cocoa yield however requires substantial investment in labor-intensive and time-consuming pre-harvest activities and costly farm inputs, such as soil fertilizer.
Our approach to support cocoa farmers
At Barry Callebaut, we aim to transform the way cocoa is produced by enhancing the existing farming model in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, and beyond. We firmly believe that focusing on increasing production volumes from a smaller group of farmers, who can then achieve a living income through a combination of better yield, larger farms, and higher farm gate prices, is the key. This is also confirmed by our extensive six-year study with IDH, Rainforest Alliance and Agri-Logic, summarized in our white paper published in May 2023.
Higher price through premiums and shifting the discussion to farm gate price
Barry Callebaut collaborates with its customers on various premium-paying programs, facilitates digital premium payments and is a living income implementer, encouraging and supporting our customers to follow suit.
We also aim to shift the focus to the farm gate price as we recognize that higher farm gate prices contribute to poverty reduction. We believe that analyzing price construction mechanisms, including farm gate prices and export prices, will have the greatest positive impact on farmers' incomes.