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jan 05, 2018

Brazil to be at the center of the chocolate world

In 2018, the world will consume more chocolate than ever – estimates have next year's totals at roughly 7.7 million tons. And Brazil, one of the world’s leading cocoa producers, will host the 2018 World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) Partnership Meeting. WCF congregates over 100 members – who represent roughly 80 percent of the international cocoa market.

At the event, the leaders of chocolate-producing companies from around the world will discuss better ways to engage in public-private partnerships in order to become cost-efficient and eco-friendly. It makes sense to place such discussions in Brazil.

“Brazil is one of the few countries in the world to concentrate the entire chain of cocoa production. It is also a global reference in many other agricultural chains. The meeting creates an opportunity for the country to showcase its potential to the world and to teach other producers,” said Pedro Ronca, the WCF's representative in Brazil. Ronca mentions that hosting the WCF Partnership Meeting is a sign of the world's recognition of Brazil.

As a top-tier chocolate producer, Brazil saw its cocoa harvests grow by 28 percent this year, a bold recovery after droughts impacted the 2016 results – especially in the state of Bahia. The South American giant is ready to be included in the CocoaAction program, a WCF initiative to implement industry-wide strategies that align the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies, governments, and key stakeholders on regional priority issues in cocoa sustainability. This will boost results even further, as producers should have more control over their harvest through modern metrics and funding from international organizations.

As demand in markets such as Europe and North America have been stable, the WCF has shifted its efforts to emerging economies – notably Brazil, India and China. The foundation wants to “empower and motivate farmers to stay in cocoa for the long run,” said Richard Scobey, president of the WCF, during a meeting in Brussels.

That is certainly the mindset of Brazilian producers. Take the case of the cocoa culture in Bahia, where AMMA Chocolate, a sustainable company, has revolutionized the way to plant and crop. Cocoa beans from South Bahia are produced in the shade of the Atlantic Forest.

They're part of a system known in the region as cabruca, which uses certain crops to help conserve rare tree species. Cabrucar is a local term meaning “to open holes,” as the cocoa is planted in small pockets surrounded by the forest. A few years ago, scientists from the New York Botanical Garden found more than 476 different plant species in the region that had been preserved by responsible planting methods.

This aligns with the WCF's goal to keep the cocoa value chain sustainable. In a recent example, the foundation teamed up with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to map 2.3 million hectares of cultivated land in five countries: Brazil, Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia and Ivory Coast.

The results of this study were then used to design strategies to prevent deforestation. “The mapping program enables us to assess risks and remedy them pro-actively,” says the institution.