Focus on Cordillera Chocolates and Colombia’s Cacao for Peace initiative

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Most of the cacao produced in Colombia is consumed internally, and a small portion is exported. Pic: Cacao for Peace
Most of the cacao produced in Colombia is consumed internally, and a small portion is exported. Pic: Cacao for Peace

Related tags Colombia Cocoa Sustainability

Colombia’s Cordillera Chocolates is a world pioneer in cocoa development. Established almost 60 years ago it has been training cocoa growers in various areas of agricultural practices, sustainability issues, disease control and productivity – and the company is a backer of the country’s Cacao for Peace initiative.

After more than 50 years of armed conflict in Colombia, the Cacao for Peace initiative has brought challenges and opportunities since the country’s government reached a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) at the end of 2016.

Cacao for Peace emerged to help farmers transition from an uncertain environment fuelled by violence to the production of cacao, while boosting their economic stability, and more broadly, improve the cacao supply chain in Colombia.

According to a study by Purdue University and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Colombians have a strong tradition of consuming cacao as part of their diet. Most of the cacao produced in Colombia is consumed internally, and a small portion is exported.

In 2016, Colombia had over 38,000 cacao farmers, and produced more than 56,000 metric tons from which more than 80% was consumed internally. Moreover, the percentage of the international cacao price that Colombian cacao beans command at the farmgate is higher than in Ecuador, Peru, Cote d'Ivore, and Ghana.

As a perennial tree crop, this positions cacao as a potential opportunity for Colombian farmers to positively impact their household income as well as diversifying their portfolio of crops. In addition, Colombian cacao is sought after on the world market by chocolate companies across the globe. Hence, Colombia has a market positioning opportunity inside and outside the country. With great opportunities, come great commitments and responsibilities,​" the study’s authors say.

The study also calls for more technical assistance to cacao farmers, infrastructure to help smallholder farmers access buying and post-harvest stations, and more research about Colombian cacao varieties and pest management.

Cordillera Chocolates

Cordillera Chocolates states it is a ‘conflict-free cocoa company’, guaranteeing no child labour and no slavery in its supply chain. “We promote the welfare and social development of the cocoa grower communities​,” it says.

Colombia-cordillera farmer
A cocoa farmer harvesting beans for Cordillera. Pic: Cordillera Chocolates

The company also pays up to 90% of the cocoa price to its farmers, improving their incomes and quality of life.

It is also part of the Cacao For Peace initiative, promoting 140 sustainable cocoa development projects through social, corporate and technical support, making a positive impact on 12,000 cacao grower families in 22 cities.

Zero deforestation

Cordillera Chocolates is also part of a deforestation agreement, ‘Cocoa, Forests and Peace’ through the Compañia Nacional de Chocolates, an international backing to the private sector that works with the communities and forests of the country.

Last year, the UK ambassador to Colombia, Colin Martin-Reynolds, signed membership to the zero deforestation agreement, a voluntary accord between representatives from the public, private and civil sectors to develop deforestation-free supply chains that are included in Colombia’s National Development Plan, with support from the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture.

This news is of great importance to Cordillera Chocolates because it confirms once more our work in sustainability that impacts the cocoa-chocolate value chain, in line with the global objectives of the United Nations​,” a spokesperson for the company said.

About Cordillera Chocolates

Cordillera is part of the chocolates business of Nutresa Group, formerly Grupo Nacional de Chocolates SA, a food-processing conglomerate headquartered in Medellín, Colombia. The group's principal activities are producing, distributing, and selling cold cuts, biscuits, chocolates, coffee, ice cream and pasta.

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