Beyond Cocoa; adding value to be valued

Ghana is famously known for its input in cocoa production and ranked the second highest cocoa growing country (https://www.worldatlas.com/amp/articles/top-10-cocoa-producing-countries.html) in the world.

The world was taken aback when news of China commencing cocoa cultivation and even exporting hit the media (https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202010/28/WS5f990202a31024ad0ba819a6.html). For a few days, many people especially Ghanaians were alarmed on the impact that would have on the economy.

Our local farmers for many years use little or no mechanized means in cultivating the cocoa. Usually, pod harvesting, splitting and bean removal are manually done. However, China took further steps in maximizing productivity by having a mechanized means for achieving the same goal. It therefore became evident that a lot more had to be done for the Ghanaian cocoa sector.

Cocoa is the main ingredient in chocolate. It is therefore logical to think that countries that produce the most chocolate products are also in large production of cocoa. But is this the case?. According to research, the top 4 countries that produce the most chocolate are the United States, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium (https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/093015/4-countries-produce-most-chocolate.asp). Interestingly, none of these countries are in the top 45 countries that produce cocoa according to WorldAtlas (https://www.worldatlas.com/amp/articles/top-10-cocoa-producing-countries.html).

If the main use of cocoa is for chocolate production one would wonder why the highest cocoa producers aren’t amongst the highest chocolate producing countries. Could it be that for many years the cocoa growing countries were only interested in exports and therefore had little interest in value addition or could it be that information on chocolate production was limited and inaccessible back in the days.

A British chocolatier by name J.S. Fry and Sons created the first chocolate bar molded from a paste made of sugar, cocoa masse and cocoa butter in the year 1847. This chocolate today is classified as dark chocolate. Additionally, a Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter in his research, successfully incorporated dried milk into chocolate to create milk chocolate. Many years later after his invention, he collaborated with his friend Henri Nestle where they set up a chocolate factory and began commercial sales of milk chocolate. By the late 19th century and early 20th century, milk chocolate processing and taste was greatly improved, and other family chocolate businesses such as Cadbury, Mars, etc were established producing different varieties of the milk chocolate for the mass market.

Cocoa for the first time was planted in Ghana in the year 1879. This was a year after a Ghanaian blacksmith Tetteh Quarshie had arrived in the country from his trip in Fernando Po Island. In the early 19th century the cocoa bean had become a commercial commodity in Ghana and soon afterwards Ghana became the world’s leading producer of cocoa (https://www.intechopen.com/books/theobroma-cacao-deploying-science-for-sustainability-of-global-cocoa-economy/cocoa-plant-people-and-profit-in-ghana). It therefore may be right to say that at the time where commercial chocolate production was finding its feet in the market, Ghana was also developing a market presence as a cocoa producer and exporter.

The first chocolate manufacturing company in Ghana is the Cocoa Processing Company Limited. Established in 1981, it began processing of cocoa into semi finished and finished products. In 2002, it’s chocolates marketed under the brand GoldenTree won gold medals at the Monde Selection competition in Paris, France (https://www.ide.go.jp/English/Data/Africa_file/Company/ghana05.html).

Unlike in the United States and Europe where family chocolate businesses sprung up, CPC single handedly added value to Ghana cocoa with their various range of chocolate confectionery both in the local and foreign market. The GoldenTree brand has been consistent in delighting it’s consumers by introducing new products over the years up to day. With products ranging from chocolate Spreads, Drinking chocolates, Dragees, etc, the brand did not limit itself to only chocolate bars.

In recent years, the company began training the public on chocolate making. Individuals were trained on how to add value to cocoa by setting up their own businesses in the chocolate sector. This was to increase cocoa utilization locally whiles creating jobs.

Today there are several small scale businesses adding value to Ghana’s cocoa. From artisanal chocolate manufacturers through to bakers and sweet shops, cocoa utilization locally can be said to have increase with each entity contributing to the value addition. Notable trainees who are currently excelling and positively contributing to cocoa value addition is Decokraft amongst others. Additionally, a few cocoa and chocolate factories have been established locally thereby increasing local utilization of the cocoa bean.

With collective efforts and determination, derivative products from cocoa such as chocolate made in Ghana can compete with foreign brands and make Ghana a chocolate producing country and not just an exporter of cocoa beans. Chocolate high in cocoa has been affiliated with quality and therefore Ghana stands a high chance of making market prominence for quality chocolates if much attention is given to adding value to cocoa beans locally. Currently, the Ghana COCOBOD is working towards increasing local value addition of the cocoa bean from 40% to 50% of the estimated 800,000 tones of cocoa beans Ghana produces(https://asantemanweb.com/adding-value-to-ghanas-cocoa-under-afcfta/).

It is vital that all stakeholders see the need to enhance cocoa farming and most importantly increase local processing. Adding value to a commodity creates new job opportunities, increases productivity and improves the economic strength of the nation.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ramy says:

    Beautiful piece! Then again cocoa farmers are soo underrated here in Ghana

    Liked by 1 person

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