Seeking more incursions into chocolate’s US$100billion industry

Easter has just been celebrated around the world and is symbolised, especially among the kids, with Easter bunnies and chocolate-filled egg-shaped delicacies that are a must-have for children. In fact, the Easter season is one in which chocolate products are consumed widely, and pundits believe the demand is continuing to rise.

While all this is going on, Ghana and neighbouring Ivory Coast account for 60% of the world’s cocoa, yet in reality the entire African continent gets just 5 percent of the US$100billion annual chocolate market value – and that is sad, because we still sell cocoa in its raw form and the developed world only adds value to the raw beans and produces hundreds of derivatives which are in turn sold back to us at several times the production cost.

President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has observed that Africa is stuck at the bottom of the cocoa value chain instead of dominating it, since it is the leading producer.  He has therefore called on African states to aggressively push toward agro-industrialisation to drive sustainable economic growth.

“African farmers sweat while others eat sweets. While the price of cocoa has hit an all-time low, profits of global chocolate manufacturers have hit an all-time high. It’s time to process Africa’s cocoa in Africa and end being at the bottom of the global value chain,” Adesina remaked.

The President of AfDB could not have put it more succinctly, because European countries like Switzerland, Belgium, France and also the US reap windfalls from chocolate and other confectionery, yet cocoa is not produced in temperate zones. It is a product of the tropics, and we should be benefitting more from these derivatives.

This only goes to reinforce the significance of the recently signed landmark cocoa agreement with Ivory Coast under the Abidjan Declaration, which seeks better pricing, harmonised marketing policies, and collaboration in scientific research and processing for both local, regional and international consumption.

We believe the agreement sets the tone for the two leading producers of cocoa globally to forge links and begin to determine better pricing regimes, among other collaborative efforts to maximise optimal use of and profit from cocoa.

Adesina believes, like many pundits, that agro-industrialisation is the key to the continent’s economic transformation, and as such we must not relent in the proposed ‘One Factory, One District’ project. Even if we are unable to attract investors to all the country’s 216 districts, half of that number would be a significant achievement.