The joint public-private initiative, which counts on support from international development and cooperation agencies, aims to consolidate Colombia’s position as a global leader in the production (and as a source) of Fino de Aroma (fine flavor) cocoa. Colombia exports 100% of Fino de Aroma cocoa, which is described as a cocoa with exquisite aroma and taste.
The GCCA platform will facilitate research projects, as well as improvements in production, sales and promotion of products from the Colombian cocoa sector in a bid to take advantage of growing global demand for chocolate.
“The objective is to generate synergies in the Colombian Fino de Aroma cocoa sector with a view to its development, consolidation and successful insertion in foreign markets,” said María Claudia Lacouture, president of the Colombian government’s trade office ProColombia.
Plan to double production
ProColombia and Colombia’s agriculture and rural development ministry are spearheading the GCCA initiative. The alliance also involves the participation of other players from the private and public sectors, including the country’s justice and commerce, industry and tourism ministries, as well as the international development and cooperation organizations of the US, Switzerland, Germany and Canada.
Other participants in the project include the Colombian Productive Transformation Program (PTP), a private–public alliance which promotes economic growth, the Bogotá-based Colombian Corporation for Agricultural Research (CORPOICA) and Colombia’s Financing Fund for the Agricultural Sector (FINAGRO), as well as representatives of the country’s cocoa and chocolate business sector and trade groups.
“We see this alliance producing very concrete results, generating wealth for Colombia, a country that has a great opportunity to grow in this sector,” said USAID representative Peter Natiello.
“Moreover, with the work of the entire team we will see increased revenues, sales and market access. We are very committed.”
The first line of research calls for the creation of a center for cocoa science, technology and innovation in Colombia, which will centralize existing research on the product, by assembling together all research entities active in the sector including CORPOICA and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
The new alliance will also focus on cocoa production, by involving and supporting Colombian cocoa bean producers as a fundamental component of the entire initiative. There are about 30,000 families in the country linked to this economic activity, according to the National Federation of Cocoa Growers (Fedecacao).
The objective in the production component is to increase Colombia’s current production from 50,000t to 100,000t by applying an assistance model, which will ensure that cultivation of Fino de Aroma cocoa is a profitable and environmentally friendly option for growers.
“The alliance comes at the right time, when Colombia is already heard around the world as a player in the cocoa [market], especially in the Fino de Aroma segment. We needed this momentum to produce more cocoa resulting in higher volumes that will allow us to reach new markets,” said Luz Adriana Osorio, president of Casa Luker, a Colombian chocolate industry that specializes in manufacturing products from Fino de Aroma cocoa.
Last year, Colombia’s agriculture and rural development minister, Rubén Darío Lizarralde, and the executive president of Fedecacao, Eduard Baquero López, held talks on providing state financing for a program to replant ageing high-quality cocoa plantations.
The current context in the global cocoa and chocolate markets is favourable for Colombia’s cocoa sector and this type of cooperation platforms, according to ProColombia. Colombia’s cocoa bean exports have risen sharply in recent years to $24.4m in 2014, up from $18.3m in 2013 and $10.5m in 2012, according to a report from Colombia’s commerce ministry based on data from the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE).
Perhaps more significantly for the country’s economy, exports of chocolate and food products with cocoa have almost doubled to $91.4m in 2014, up from $54.8m in 2013 and $51.6m in 2012.
This positive trend is also evident in Colombia’s confectionery sector as a whole, which exported $414.2m worth of goods in 2014, up from $314.1m in 2013 and $280.1m in 2012.
“In addition to the [existing] international demand, there are specific opportunities identified by ProColombia, especially in the [market segment of] products with added value … such as cocoa paste, butter, powder, chocolate coatings and bars,” said ProColombia.