The confectionery behemoth behind chocolate brands like Milka, Cadbury and Toblerone will work with the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI) and suppliers Armajaro and Olam to promote sustainable Indonesian cocoa farming, improve cocoa bean quality and support the development of Indonesian cocoa communities.
The announcement comes at a time of great change within the Indonesian cocoa industry - the third biggest producer of the commodity behind Ivory Coast and Ghana – where disease, pests and older trees have led to poor harvests and a shift in focus towards value added functions like grinding .
"Indonesia has great potential for cocoa development," said Andi Sitti Asmayanti, Southeast Asia cocoa development manager at Mondelēz International. "Through Cocoa Life, we plan to involve more than 50,000 Indonesian farmers. Together, we can help farmers address low productivity and add value to cocoa communities."
Indonesia is the sixth country to be included in the project following Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, India, Dominican Republic and Brazil.
An uphill struggle?
The threat of cocoa shortages has been looming for some time with some fearing price hikes will follow.
“We project that – on current trends - supply will not meet demand by 2020,” Cathy Pieters, director of Cocoa Life at Mondelēz International, told ConfectioneryNews.
Mondelēz hopes that it can orchestrate certain changes in the area which could reduce the threat of such an unstable supply future. “Better pest and disease management is one of the opportunities to improve cocoa productivity, along with new cocoa varieties and good agricultural practices. Research in Indonesia has shown that good practices can reduce losses from up to 40% to as little as 10-20%, and our own Cocoa Life R&D specialists will focus on this, working in partnership with the Indonesian Cocoa and Coffee Research Institution (ICCRI),” explained Pieters.
Pieters told ConfectioneryNews that the promotion of gender equality is also a key tenet in the project, explaining that it benefits everyone and is essential if cocoa communities are to thrive.
“Our experience shows an increased involvement of women in the supply base leads to improved financial management by farmers, better education for youth and more sustainable, thriving communities,” she said.
The Cocoa Life project has been pushing for improved women’s rights in the cocoa supply chain since 2008. “For example, in Ghana we set up women’s groups in all 100 of our phase 1 communities supported by 50 trained Women Extension Volunteers. Since extending the program to 109 additional communities in 2011 and 2012, Cocoa Life is actively training and establishing women’s groups in these communities. This was developed following insights that many women farmers were unable to attend training sessions run by men,” said Pieters.
In Indonesia these gender initiatives will be established from insights gained from a "situation assessment”.
In April this year Mondelēz signed the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles in support of this issue along with other companies like Nestlé and Coca-Cola.