Over the coming months our new board members will share their insights, expertise, and experience of working in the chocolate and cocoa sector to keep readers informed of latest developments in what is an exciting, fluid and dynamic industry.
Allow us to introduce the members:
Antonie C. Fountain
Antonie Fountain (1978), is managing director of the VOICE Network. He acts as one of the key spokespersons for civil society in cocoa, and has been actively advocating a sustainable cocoa sector for more than a decade.
"What makes cocoa and chocolate so special is that people are passionate about their chocolate. But also - once you work in cocoa, you seldom leave. It grabs you, in a good way. Having followed the cocoa sector for so long now, I'm still often struck by the willingness to engage the relevant issues. We're nowhere near solving the problem, but we've come a long way in acknowledging in them," he said.
"Our work at the VOICE network is to be a watchdog and a catalyst for the cocoa sector, so being able to provide input to a major sector media outlet is a very useful way to keep a finger on the pulse, as well as a good way to get our message across."
Raymond Major has 43 years’ experience working in the chocolate and confectionery industry. For six years he ran Hershey’s manufacturing operations in Brazil and for 10 years he oversaw sourcing fine cocoa for Hershey’s Artisan Brands. In 2010 he was made a Hershey Fellow in recognition of his long service to the cocoa industry. Today he runs a consulting business focused on cocoa production, processing and marketing.
"The chocolate and confectionery industry is perhaps the only industry where the final outcome is so linked and dependent on both the producer and the maker. It takes the skill and experience of the chocolate maker to release the potential of a fine cocoa, yet that potential only exists because of the care and hard work of the cocoa farmer, often thousands of miles away. Their livelihoods are so interdependent and entwined," he said.
"What delights me so much about being involved with the editorial board of Confectionery News is the opportunity to help tell this story of how the livelihoods of both farmer and maker are so interdependent and entwined."
Experienced in the ‘boiler rooms and bridges of some of the world’s best-known brands’ (UPS, ING, and Coca-Cola), Tom Daly’s creativity, insight, and leadership have combined to produce a track record of turning big ships in small spaces toward a digital future. He also serves as an advisor to The Ann Johnson Institute for Science, Technology, and Society at The University of South Carolina as well as the marketing department at the University of North Georgia.
"As a marketer with experience in a number of industries (transportation/logistics, Financial Services, Beverages), what strikes me about this industry is the true passion consumers have not only for its brands, but also the category. People love it," he said.
"For over 20 years, I have used emerging technology to 'turn big ships in small spaces toward a digital future'. Cocoa as an industry is that big ship, and I am eager to use this unique vantage point to get a clearer sense of how far - and how fast it's turning toward the future. Yes, we can find examples of individual companies applying technology, but I haven't seen it come together to fully bridge all the gaps and transform all communities of interest. It is my hope to use this forum to make everybody's life better and ensure that consumer affection for - and trust of - chocolate only strengthens and grows."
Dr Kristy Leissle
Scholar of cocoa and chocolate
Dr Kristy Leissle is co-founder of the Cocoapreneurship Institute of Ghana. Since 2004, her work has investigated the politics, economics, and cultures of these industries, focusing on West African political economy and agriculture, specialty cocoa trade relationships, and the complex meanings produced and consumed through chocolate marketing and advertising. Her recent book, Cocoa (Cambridge: Polity, 2018), explores cocoa geopolitics and personal politics, and was #3 on Food Tank’s Fall Reading List: 19 Books to Take the Food System Back.
"I spend all my professional time studying the socioeconomics and political cultures of cocoa and chocolate, and not a day goes by when I don't gain a new insight. It could be about botany, or history, or a new packaging technique, or a personal experience that an agriculturalist shares with me. But there is always, always something new to learn about cocoa, chocolate, and confectionery.
"For me, the number one unique aspect, the thing that keeps me going as a researcher and writer, is the extraordinary complexity of this industry and its supply and value chains," she said.
"We are talking about a tropical agricultural commodity that travels, very often, thousands of miles to become a manufactured good, and then, after that, is given a thousand and one cultural meanings as it is distributed literally around the globe.
"As a lifelong learner and someone who enjoys opportunities for dialogue with my industry colleagues and professional peers, this feels to me a fantastic opportunity to engage with some of the leading thinkers in cocoa, chocolate, and confectionery - including the writers for ConfectioneryNews, which I rely upon daily for my own learning."