Raphael Wermuth, Barry Callebaut’s head of media relations, said that decision was taken in anticipation of an outbreak.
“Already some weeks ago we decided - as a precautionary measure as we were not able to judge on the future development of Ebola and to have enough time to organize it elsewhere - to not go to Côte d'Ivoire this year, but postpone it to happen there.”
The yearly internal Managers' Conference that brings together 100-150 Barry Callebaut manager was due to take place in Côte d'Ivoire in early October. The conference has now been moved to Davos in Switzerland.
Sierra Leone sourcing hit
Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria have 1,779 reported cases of Ebola virus and 961 suspected deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Barry Callebaut owns certified cocoa bean supplier Bio United, a subsidiary of Biolands that operates in Kenema, Sierra Leone, which Wermuth said had been affected.
Kenema has been one of the hardest hit districts in the country and a blockade was recently set up outside the district after the country declared a state of emergency.
No impact on Ivorian operations
Nigeria, the world’s fourth largest cocoa producer, has so far reported 10 cases of Ebola. To date, there have been no incidents in the two main cocoa-producing nations, Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana.
Barry Callebaut operates three cocoa processing factories in Côte D’Ivoire, and employs around 500 local staff in Abidjan and San Pedro.
“I can confirm that our business in Côte d'Ivoire is running normal - no impacts from Ebola, neither in the factory nor regarding the cocoa supply,” said Wermuth.