IVORY COAST – The world’s leading cocoa producer, Ivory Coast, has signed a pact with China and Saudi Arabia for the construction of three cocoa processing factories in the country to boost cocoa-value addition and increase returns to farmers.
Yves Brahima Koné, Managing Director of the Coffee-Cocoa Council (CCC) said the producer of around 45 percent of the world’s cocoa beans has signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for the construction of a new cocoa processing plant over the next 9 months.
The factory, which is anticipated to have a grinding capacity of 120,000 tons of beans per year, will be installed on a site based in the city of San Pedro.
“This permanent representation (in Abu Dhabi) is the fruit of our new vision for Ivorian cocoa that we want to export all over the world. This office will allow us to explore markets in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa,” he noted.
Additionally, Kone said that two other new plants funded by China are also scheduled to enter service next October with an annual processing capacity of 50,000 tons each.
Once operational, these three factories are expected to add 220,000 tonnes of bean grinding capacity to the local industry, which currently processes between 35 and 40% of national cocoa production and the rest exported, but the government has a goal of increasing that to at least 50%.
According to Kone, the new plants will allow the country to process more than 1 million tonnes of cocoa annually, making it the world’s leading cocoa grinder. Currently, it vies with the Netherlands for the top spot.
According to the Professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University and Research, Ken Giller, every year, some 750 to 800 thousand tons of cocoa from West Africa, especially the Ivory Coast, are shipped to the world’s largest cocoa import harbor in Amsterdam, where the cocoa beans are stored and distributed further.
This distribution process makes the Netherlands the second-largest cocoa exporter in the world after Ivory Coast, without the Dutch ever producing a single bean.
Some of the cocoa is further processed in the Netherlands into cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder.
“This processing could be done much more locally, in Ivory Coast and Ghana,” says Giller. “Certainly, in the context of exporting chocolate to China, this could boost local economic development, which would in turn benefit small cocoa farmers.”
The state has implemented aggressive policies in recent years to make local processing attractive, including offering tax cuts, investments in the sector, and other incentives to Ivorian companies.
At the beginning of the year, the country also announced plans to start operations of the cocoa storage and processing complex based in the industrial zone of Yopougon during the fourth quarter of 2023.
The 9-ha project was launched by Prime Minister Patrick Achi and attracted an investment of US$108m. The plant allows Ivory Coast to clean, dry, grind, roast, and press a proportion of its cocoa harvest.
According to Koné Brahima Yves, Managing Director of the Coffee-Cocoa Council, the Atlantic Cocoa Corporation plant will be able to store 140,000 tonnes of beans and process 64,000 tonnes a year, rising to 100,000 tonnes. The aim is to be able to handle the whole of the country’s cocoa production by 2030.
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