The Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans, has instituted a new cocoa quality-control programme, according to the World Bank.
The measures, which started last week, mean the beans will be returned if they are not properly fermented and dried before they are sent to processing plants, said the Cocoa and Coffee Management Council.
The council said the beans will be checked before they enter facilities.
Ivory Coast has introduced reforms to current main-crop harvests completion point of the International Monetary Fund’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative. Through the program, the country is eligible for $3bn in debt relief, the fund said.
The cocoa and coffee sector reforms, which started last month, should help bring the country closer to completing requirements for securing debt relief, according to press reports.
The changes also included replacing a fixed tax on cocoa exports and a levy that varies with prices, according to the Finance Ministry.
Laurent Pipitone director of the Economics and Statistics Division at the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) told ConfectioneryNews.com he saw the move as a positive development.
“There were some concerns in the past few years about the quality of cocoa beans, for example, some plants were not properly dried,” he said. “It’s very important the quality level is appropriate because the Ivory Coast provides 30 per cent of the world’s cocoa.”
Barry Callebaut goal to increase direct sourcing
At the same time, industrial chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut also announced aims to enhance the quality control of its beans by increasing the percentage of cocoa beans it directly sources from farmers.
“However, to reach levels of around 80 per cent will take quite some years and is rather a long-term goal,” said Wermuth.
He said that in order to further grow its chocolate production, Barry Callebaut would need to increase its grinding capacities in existing factories in origin countries – such as in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Brazil and Malaysia.
Raphael Wermuth, external communications manager at Barry Callebaut told this publication that direct sourcing would put the company in the best position to achieve this target.
However, Wermuth said it was too early to give details on where and when this would happen.
Although Barry Callebaut does not own any cocoa farms currently, it has intensified its efforts to move closer to the farmer over the last years, Wermuth said.
“It is our goal to move upstream in the cocoa supply chain and further increase the proportion of directly sourced cocoa. With our Quality Partner Program (QPP), for example, we now work directly with 48 cooperatives representing some 40,000 cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast,” he said.
Since Barry Callebaut started the program in 2005, Wermuth said it had more than tripled the beans sourced from QPP cooperatives and this growth will accelerate in the coming fiscal year.
"In August 2010, we launched QPP in Cameroon. Another example is Biolands in Tanzania. Since 2008, we have held a 49 per cent stake in the company, one of the largest producers of certified organic cocoa in Africa,” he said.
During fiscal year 2009/10, Barry Callebaut directly sourced 65 per cent of its cocoa beans from cooperatives, intermediaries and government bodies in the cocoa origin countries.
“Indeed, we are striving to increase this proportion in the coming years,” said Wermuth.