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Blommer awaits record-breaking sustainable cocoa shipment

By Jane Byrne , 14-Feb-2011
Last updated on 14-Feb-2011 at 12:43 GMT

Industrial chocolate supplier, Blommer Chocolate, said it is set to receive a record-breaking shipment of cocoa beans containing a large percentage of sustainably farmed and Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa, despite political turmoil in the region.

The company, North America’s largest processor of cocoa beans and ingredient chocolate products, said that the 18,400 metric tons of cocoa was harvested in October, shipped in December, arrived in the US and was delivered to port warehouses early February.

Cocoa growing initiatives

Blommer is involved in several sustainability programmes in Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ecuador focused on farmer livelihood and coca crop quality.

Approximately 90 per cent of the world’s cocoa supply is grown and harvested on family-owned farms with plot sizes of 12 acres or less, while only 5 per cent of cocoa is grown on plantations over 40 hectares in size.

Peter Blommer, president, Blommer Chocolate said that the supplier feels “a strong sense of commitment and responsibility to these farmers”.

“Our sustainability efforts are two-fold: focusing on improving the livelihood of the cocoa farmers through better tools and training while keeping a sharp eye on the planet by practicing responsible, environmental stewardship,” he added

Blommer, in conjunction with Cemoi Chocolatier of France and Petra Foods in Southeast Asia, set up the Processors Alliance for Cocoa Traceability and Sustainability (PACTS), in May 2010 with the aim of supporting Ivorian farmers.

The industrial chocolate supplier is also involved in sustainability initiatives with Olam International such as SAFOB, a programme in Sulawesi, Indonesia that builds on the technical skills learned in the farmer field school initiatives developed by the World Cocoa Foundation.

Blommer's Amazon Basin Project is focused on growers in Ecuador and the supplier also produces a line of products certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

Fairtrade development

Meanwhile, a hike in US$50 in the Fairtrade premium per metric tonne (MT) of cocoa, which came into force in January this year, should encourage greater investment in sustainable cocoa initiatives and better farming practices, according to the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO).

And the FLO told this publication previously that confectionery manufacturers can more easily secure large volumes of Fairtrade cocoa by offering cooperatives a long-term commitment and pre-financing.

"This helps Fairtrade cooperatives to have the funds available to pay farmers immediately upon buying the cocoa from farmers, which builds trust between the cooperative and farmers and strengthens farmers’ commitment to sell their cocoa to the cooperative,” the FLO spokesperson told ConfectioneryNews.com.

The organisation expects ongoing growth in Fairtrade products.

Yesterday, UK retailer Sainsbury's reported a 27 per cent rise in sales of its Fairtrade products including its own brand chocolate ranges to £276m.

Sainsbury's claims to be the world's largest retailer of Fairtrade products, having converted all of its bananas to Fairtrade in 2007 and followed up with tea, coffee, hot chocolate and sugar.

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