Leading industrial supplier Barry Callebaut said it has bought the majority of the shipment, saying it applauds “the dedicated efforts of the farmers affiliated with the Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA), the first cocoa producer group to become UTZ certified in Ghana.”
Industrial chocolate and cocoa suppliers are receiving an increasing numbers of requests from customers for clarity in the supply chain, as the consumer movement for sustainable and fair trade type products gains momentum.
In cooperation with Solidaridad, the UTZ scheme was set up by a number of big players in the cocoa sector, including Mars, Nestle, Heinz Benelux, Cargill, Ecom and Dutch retailer Ahold, as well as a number of development and environmental organisations.
Speaking to ConfectioneryNews.com this morning, Daan de Vries, programme manager for cocoa at UTZ Certified, said while the quantity involved was only 800 tonnes, the development was significant: “While this amount represents a small, first step for the programme, we rate Ghana second globally in terms of UTZ certified production potential.”
In 2010 more than 3,900 Ghanaian farmers had achieved UTZ certification, and in the next three years, CAA said it aims to certify an additional 20,000 farmer members throughout Ghana’s cocoa growing regions.
The UTZ certified programme is a relatively “young one”, according to de Vries, with the first certification issued in 2009 for a cooperative in the Ivory Coast but it has huge potential.
“Current certified production is 81,000 tonnes, with 55 certified projects in 11 producer countries in Latin America, Asia, and West Africa contributing to this output,” said de Vries.
He added that the scheme has grown exponentially, with registered UTZ certified cocoa output at 5,500 tonnes in 2009.
In terms of yield, de Vries said that it relies on measurements taken by its industrial partners in the programme, with one of the players reporting a 50 per cent hike in the amount of cocoa beans being delivered to its cooperative by farmers following one year of certification compliance.
“That increase however,” added the UTZ programme manager, “could also be a reflection of greater loyalty from the farmers to that particular cooperative, and not only higher yields.”
And responsible use of fertiliser is a central tenet of the scheme, said de Vries, to ensure that the greater yields achieved are not at the expense of the environment.