Mondelēz and Olam announce partnership to create ‘world’s largest sustainable cocoa farm’ in Asia

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Cocoa farmers in Asia have struggled with rising temperatures, low yields and crop disease. Pic: OFI
Cocoa farmers in Asia have struggled with rising temperatures, low yields and crop disease. Pic: OFI

Related tags Olam International Mondelez International

Leading chocolate maker and largest cocoa supplier aim to strengthen sustainable cocoa sourcing in Indonesia with 2,000-hectare cocoa farming model.

Mondelēz International and Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) have announced a new collaboration in Indonesia to create the world’s single largest sustainable commercial cocoa farm.

In a joint press statement, the two companies said the model builds on Mondelēz International’s experience with the company’s signature sustainable sourcing programme, Cocoa Life, and OFI’s ambition for sustainable cocoa, Cocoa Compass, to test a scalable approach for the future of commercial cocoa farming.

As demand for cocoa is grows across Asia, which is set to become the second largest consuming region of cocoa ingredients in the world, Indonesia is seen as a key cocoa-producing country in the region, but farmers have struggled with rising temperatures, low yields and crop disease.

Empowering communities

Combining their respective expertise in cocoa growing research and development, sustainable cocoa farm management, and good agricultural practices, Mondelēz International and OFI said they will tackle these problems by improving the livelihoods of partner cocoa farmers, empowering communities and restoring the environmental productivity of a previously deforested landscape.

From sensors in fields to irrigation systems, the project will use advanced climate smart and plant science technology – rarely used to grow cocoa at this scale – as innovations included in this 2,000-hectare cocoa farm on Seram, the largest island in Maluku province in Indonesia.

The model tests a modernised and professional blueprint for best practice cocoa farming, optimal land usage and farming community planning which will be explored as a potential model for replication across the region.

Quentin Roach, SVP Supply Chain & Chief Procurement Officer, Mondelēz International said: “As one of the world’s leading chocolate makers, we’re on a mission to make cocoa right and to secure a sustainable future for an ingredient essential to our business. With nine years of measurable impact demonstrating improved farmer’s livelihoods and reduced environmental impact of cocoa farming through our signature sustainable sourcing programme, Cocoa Life, we’re excited to leverage our know-how in a collaborative approach to sustainable raw material sourcing with a geographically customized solution.

“Creating opportunities to innovate, in partnership with our suppliers, and exploring the ability to scale high-yielding, forest-positive, income-generating approaches to commercial cocoa farming on the single largest farm of its kind offers attractive potential and is an important step forward on our journey to lead the future of a sustainable and resilient cocoa supply.

“This initiative sits alongside Mondelēz International’s existing Cocoa Life program in Indonesia and our cocoa crop science technical center in Pasuruan, established to support sustainable cocoa farming practices and drive positive change for farmers and communities in the region.”

The partnership aims to deliver:

  • The creation of 700 jobs for local residents in an area which has limited income opportunities due to its isolated location. Nearly half of these employment opportunities will go to women
  • 2,000 hectares of previously deforested brown field land, which will be planted with cocoa, shade trees, forest and fruit trees to promote biodiversity and carbon capture. More than 1,080 hectares have already been planted across the total plantation area of 3,380 hectares
  • An area of 47 hectares that has been identified as High Conservation Value forest and is being fully protected as a vital habitat for flora and fauna
  • A seedling nursery that can grow up to one million high-yielding cocoa seedlings each year.
  • Access to healthcare and education for all employees and their families, as well as housing, electricity, water, day care for the 200 families who live on site

Gerard A Manley, CEO of OFI’s Cocoa Business, said: “This could be truly game-changing for the future of cocoa in Indonesia and beyond. We would like to thank the regional and national governments of Indonesia for their support.

“Ever since we launched our first sustainability programme in the country more than 16 years ago, we have been committed to supporting Indonesian cocoa farmers while also protecting the environment. We reaffirmed this commitment through our acquisition in 2019 of the country’s largest cocoa processor, BT Cocoa, to connect the full supply chain from cocoa beans to cocoa ingredients.

“We’re now combining our expertise and knowledge with Mondelēz International, a steward of some of the world’s most iconic snack and chocolate brands. Having just announced the achievement of our 2020 sustainability goals, we believe this partnership is a further significant step towards our Cocoa Compass ambition to have a positive impact on the future of cocoa.”

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