Cocoa

World Cocoa Conference reception sets scene for key sector event

A strong sense of anticipation gathered surrounding the opening reception for the fifth edition of the World Cocoa Conference, as places the quest to raise farmer pay firmly in the spotlight, reports Neill Barston.

This year’s event, the first in six years, opened its doors this afternoon, with two pre-sessionss, the first of which was led by specialist sector consultancy firm, Zoto, exploring how to harness the value of cacao quality and diversity for assisting agricultural workers to maximise their earnings..

The second, examined distribution within the cocoa and chocolate value chain, which set the scene for the formal opening of the event tomorrow morning by Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

For the reception gathering, the key industry showcase was introduced by ICCO executive director Michel Arrion, alongside Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade of the Belgian Government, who stressed the importance of farmers in terms of their contribution to the industry’s value, noting the subject of how to improve their income was especially significant given global conditions.

Furthermore, Ans Persoons, Secretary of State for the Government of Brussels believed it was fitting that the conference was being held in the Belgian capital, with the nation’s love of chocolate.

She noted that there had been a lot of work done into forging links with Fairtrade in the country, but remarked that ‘there was still a long way in order for us to become a Fairtrade region on every level,” before inviting attendees to explore the Global village’s many displays.

A total of more than 1,000 delegates have registered for this year’s show – which comes in wake of a crisis within the the cocoa industry, in which prices have escalated rapidly to more than $10,000 a tonne on Futures markets in New York and London – representing a nominal high on the commodities markets.

This sparked a response from both Ghana and Ivory Coast, which have both raised farm gate prices by 50%, but even accounting for the rise, this is still only around a fifth of what cocoa is presently being traded for on American Futures markets.

For the opening afternoon, attendees had the chance to explore more than 40 exhibitors within the event’s ‘Global Village’ which spanned the value chain of the sector. This included Belgian chocolate markers, backed by presence from Choprabisco Belgian confectionery group, as well as ingredients, support services and processing equipment firms who were part of the mix.

Among key names at the event were Buhler industry solutions group, AAK ingredients, Puratos chocolate and cocoa group, Farmforce sustainability group, Rainforest Alliance, and Fairtrade, offering key insights into how the broader sector is continuing to engage with some of the major tests facing the industry.

The event continues tomorrow morning, where Confectionery Production will be reporting live from Brussels. If you’ve any news from the event, please email [email protected]

 

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