Unveiled at a meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation in Utrecht, the Netherlands, this week, the new joint venture will be called the Processors Alliance for Cocoa Traceability and Sustainability (PACTS).
Through this initiative the three chocolate companies involved will work together to build 30 fermentation centres over the next three years at an investment cost of €2.3m.
The joint venture will work with 50 local farming co-operatives in the Ivory Coast involving 10,000 farmers to help them improve bean quality and post-harvest processing. Under the PACTS program, Asian ingredients supplier Petra Foods said farmers will also be given training to help them improve their crop yield.
For Petra Foods and its partners - France-based chocolate producer Cemoi and US-based cocoa processor and supplier Bloomer - the ultimate goal of the work of the joint venture will be to improve their supply of high quality fermented cocoa beans and enhance the traceability of their supply chains.
As for the cocoa farmers, the three chocolate companies said that the joint venture aims to improve their livelihoods. Indeed, this is seen as the basis for the future development of the PACTS.
Bloomer said: “It is expected that the program will expand as the cocoa farming community reaps the benefits of better prices and consistent, high-quality crops.”
The new joint venture will have an operating subsidiary in the Ivory Coast where its activities will be centered. The Ivory Coast is currently the largest cocoa producing country in the world, accounting for 40 per cent of global production, and about 90 per cent of its cocoa is grown on small family farms.