GrowCocoa will be headquartered in Washington D.C., US. Olam and Blommer plan to each pump $6m into the company over the next two years in a bid to boost cocoa yields.
Olam and Blommer had been working together for the past eight years on sustainable cocoa programmes in Indonesia and the Ivory Coast, training 55,000 farmers on fertiliser use and best agricultural practices.
The joint venture will allow both companies to reach an additional 45,000 farmers, which could significantly boost cocoa output.
Chris Brett, head of corporate responsibility & sustainability at Olam told ConfectioneryNews.com that the average farmer yield is currently 300 kilos per hectare and can be doubled through training.
He said that Olam wanted to work in new origins to reach more farmers and said the joint venture would lead this process.
Olam’s main cocoa origins are all-based in Africa and include the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Nigeria.
Olam and Blommer both refused to disclose which Latin American countries the joint venture would target.
Boost to sustainability initiatives
Kip Walk, corporate director, cocoa and sustainability, told this publication about how demand was growing for sustainable cocoa in the face of a supply crisis.
“There is a broadening awareness and expectation in the supply chain,” he said, pointing to clear statements from major branded companies, raised consumer awareness and increased interest from retailers to source ethical cocoa.
He added that the industry would risk significant cocoa shortages should it fail to invest in a sustainable supply chain, reiterating an earlier statement from Blommer.
One of the goals of the new joint venture will be to encourage investment in sustainable production, he said.
GrowCocoa: Structure and function
Walk said that an independent manager is expected to oversee GrowCocoa, but precise numbers at the D.C. office were as yet undecided.
According to Walk, GrowCooca’s activities will range from outreach schemes to seeking public and private funding for sustainable cocoa initiatives.