Barry Callebaut to open cocoa ‘Farm of the Future’ in Ecuador to aid R&D
“Technology and innovation are key to the future of food system evolution, providing opportunities for improving farmer productivity and resilience, combating climate change, and reducing the impact of agriculture on the environment,” Barry Callebaut said in a statement.
Ecuador is the world’s third-largest cocoa producer and one of the fastest-growing cocoa origins, as well as the largest global producer of fine flavour cocoa
Barry Callebaut Group, the world’s largest Belgium premium chocolate supplier, is known for its innovation and sustainability and has a network of over 30 Research & Development centres, employing 350 dedicated R&D staff.
The 640-hectare property is located in the Cerecita Valley, between Guayaquil, the country’s largest city, and the Pacific Ocean. Operations and infrastructure development will start immediately with the planting of cocoa seedlings on the farm’s 400 hectares of non-planted land. Integration of high-yielding and maximum flavour varieties in the planting design will also support cross-learning between cocoa farms of all sizes, in different locations and climates from around the world.
Barry Callebaut said it aims to establish the best cocoa farming practices that are climate-smart and enhance sustainability and farm profitability.
“Our Farm of the Future aims to be a contributor to the global movement on food system innovation. The establishment of this hub is a valuable vehicle for providing new opportunities for sustainable cocoa farming, innovation, and research,” said Pablo Perversi, Chief Innovation, Sustainability & Quality Officer, Global Head of Gourmet.
The Group’s agronomics research will also test resilient farming techniques, pre-and post-harvest processes, fermentation control, diversification of income, and improved cost control. Ultimately, we aim to establish the best cocoa farming practices that are climate-smart and enhance sustainability and farm profitability. Once the farm is fully operational, it aims to employ approximately 80 people from the local area.
“With the opening of Farm of the Future, Barry Callebaut is further strengthening its cocoa farming research capabilities for the benefit of cocoa yield, sustainability, and quality,” said Steven Retzlaff, President Global Cocoa at Barry Callebaut.
The new R&D facility will also complement the Group’s Forever Chocolate plan to ‘make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025’.
“New findings from our farm of the future will further help support our research and will feed into our Farm Services program, reaching cocoa farmers of all origins in Barry Callebaut’s supply chain. This supports our goal to secure and improve farmers’ livelihoods by increasing the value of their cocoa through improved quality and higher yield,” it said.