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Procurement trip to the Ivory Coast, by Jonathon Clay

  • Procurement Trip To The Ivory Coast

When I joined Weetabix in October 2015, the three key factors in my decision were the company’s strategic procurement vision, the personal development opportunities available and the empowerment to make a change.

As the Procurement Manager for Chocolate and Cocoa, what better place to start my strategic sourcing journey than going to origin with the world’s largest chocolate producer to see first-hand the cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast.

The trip was focused on two aspects; farming and sustainability, both of which provided a truly thought provoking insight into the world of cocoa.

As the world’s largest exporter, the Ivory Coast produces c. 1,800mt of cocoa per annum, most of which is grown by small independent farmers each farming between 1-2 hectares. Very few have implemented Good Agricultural Practices [GAP] and as a result yields often range between 250 – 400kg per hectare, which when compared to other producing territories at 600 – 800kg, highlights one of the key challenges facing the Ivory Coast.

As the world’s largest producer of Chocolate, Barry Callebaut have picked up the sustainability mantle launching the Cocoa Horizons program in 2015, which has been designed to provide both financial and educational support for the farmers.

For those buyers wishing to support the program a €136/MT premium is added to the cost of cocoa solids. This premium is then used to provide additional funds to farmers, support community projects and provide education to the farmers including productivity, entrepreneurial and sustainability workshops.

  • Procurement Trip To The Ivory Coast

During the trip, I was able to see some of the fantastic community projects funded by Cocoa Horizons, such as a water filter project implemented at a school which gave over 300 children access to sanitized water. I was also able to see some of classrooms built by the program and the positive impact of a safe learning environment.

The trip has been invaluable in helping me to develop a deeper understanding of the cocoa market and the sustainability challenges it faces. I now look forward to evolving the current procurement strategy for cocoa with the engagement of the business and the inevitable personal development and exposure that this journey will bring.

I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity Weetabix has afforded me in the short time I have been with the business.