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Scaling up cocoa origins closer to China easier said than done, says Mars

By Oliver Nieburg+

24-Jan-2013

China: The new chocolate market, says Mars...but local sourcing is proving a challenge
China: The new chocolate market, says Mars...but local sourcing is proving a challenge

Sourcing cocoa closer to the booming Chinese chocolate market is more challenging than it seems, according to Mars.

Mars will not communicate where it sources its cocoa, but it is believed to be from all the major growing cocoa growing nations including the big three: Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia.

China chomping chocolate; India nibbling

Andrew Pederson, global chocolate manager for sustainability at Mars, told ConfectioneryNews.com: “The new chocolate markets are China and India. China particularly.”

He said that the Chinese had significantly more disposable income and were developing a taste for chocolate – but added it remained to be seen whether consumption would match developed markets.

Grow capacity in Africa to meet demand

Mars plans to keep up with rising chocolate demand in China and India by growing capacity in Africa – rather than sourcing much more from Asian origins, said Pederson.

He said that it was “much easier said than done” to move sourcing closer to developing markets such as Asia.

“It’s difficult to make something exactly the same anywhere in the world,” he said.

Take a Snickers bar. It would not taste the same in New York City as it did in the Netherlands due to where the ingredients were sourced.

Indonesia

Marcia Mogelonsky, director of insight for Mintel Food and Drink, told this site: “With Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana still providing the lion's share of the world's cocoa, a transition to Asian sourcing is not likely to be easily accomplished.

“Granted Indonesia is making major efforts to develop its industry - and it currently ranks third in world production. But there will have to be a lot more work before Indonesia will be able to eclipse the West African giants.

She said that Indonesia still faced political issues and was susceptible to devastating climatic change. 

Quality for money

Pederson added that early signs from recent cocoa reforms in the Ivory Coast guaranteeing a farm gate price of 725 CFA francs ($1.47) per kg showed  a postive impact on bean quality.

Analyst Francisco Redruello from Euromonitor International previously told this site that when cocoa growers receive more money they have better access to fertilizer and grafting techniques that can improve the quality of crops.

“Grinders will have to pay more money for cocoa beans to improve productivity,” he said.

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