The company said that the Soppeng Regency government of the southern province of the Sulawesi island, along with the business development agency Swisscontact, both signed a memorandum of understanding, committing to the implementation of the Cargill Cocoa Promise in the region. It said the move was part of the company’s $100m investment in Indonesia.
“This reinforces the company’s commitment to develop and grow Indonesia’s cocoa industry as well as strengthen the company’s sustainability activities,” it said.
Following cocoa deficit concerns, many of the big companies have launched their own sustainability initiatives often focusing on agricultural training of farmers, with Mondelēz International launching 'Cocoa Life' and Barry Callebaut 'Cocoa Horizons'.
Meanwhile it announced it would begin cocoa processing tests at its new plant in Gresik in the East Java region of Indonesia by the end of the month, with the plant itself set for completion this year. The site will be the company’s first cocoa processing plant in Asia.
A key commodity
A spokesperson for the Sulawesi regional government said: “Cocoa is one of the key commodities that provide significant contributions to Soppeng Regency’s economy, and this sustainable cocoa program will further improve our cocoa farmers’ welfare and strengthen Soppeng Regency’s position as one of the most important high quality cocoa beans production centers in Indonesia.”
Meanwhile, Manfred Borer, program director for Swisscontact’s sustainable cocoa production initiative said: “This public private partnership in Soppeng Regency is an extension of the tried and tested approach in neighboring Bone Regency and the collaboration with Cargill and the local government is expected to improve the economy of local cocoa farmers.”
Cargill said the move was significant since Indonesia is the world’s third-largest cocoa producer, behind Ivory Coast and Ghana. It said the program backed its plans to scale up its cocoa operations and increase value to the cocoa beans produced in Indonesia to help meet the increasing demand for cocoa throughout Asia. It said the sustainability agreement would provide the region with a, “flexible and low cost technology transfer system for cocoa farmers” as well as training in good agricultural practices.
Cargill said it had been sourcing cocoa from Sulawesi since 1995.
Asia in focus
With cocoa processing tests set for the end of this month, Cargill said its Gresik facility was nearing completion and on target to open later this year. The site will process around 70,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans into cocoa powder, cocoa butter and cocoa liquor for customers in Indonesia and other Asian countries, it said. It said the plant would create about 200 new jobs in Indonesia as well as new R&D positions in its existing center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The beans processed at the plant will come primarily from Sulawesi, it said.
Investments from cocoa competitors have already been seen in Sulawesi, with Barry Callebaut - who has its own sustainability program - opening a joint-venture plant in Sulawesian city Makassar last September. The new facility means Callebaut has five cocoa and four chocolate factories in Asia to date.