Cocoa harvest is running – we are looking for new clients!

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, by Michael Stamm Production

After a terrible harvest in 2015/2016 due to lack of rain, last year's harvest was great. In 2017/2018 it is just.. OK!

cocoa farmers

OK in terms of volumes. The rain came at the right moment for an optimum production which is relatively similar in comparison to last year. This should be great news for the producers. However, they are really frustrated due to the market conditions.

They are suffering from very low prices. Thanks to the Fair Trade certification and the gebana standards, they get payed more than the minimum FLO price as well as rewarding organic premiums and additional benefits such as cooperative premium, technical consultancy, etc. Under these conditions, many farmers show their interest of working with gebana as a reliable partner in the long term. During 2017, we received every day solicitations from farmers to join the groups!

Also our agronomist team did a great job during the summer and the farmer base increased significantly. We are very glad to count more than 1000 cocoa farmers today. Few of them are placed in “conversion” meaning that they agree to respect the organic guidelines but are waiting for “purifying” their soil in order to be fully approved as organic farmers.

For the first time in a few years, gebana has now to look for new clients! Our actual clients are really happy with the quality but the number is not growing as fast as our farmer base. Our sales team had to start being more proactive in sales.

A difficulty we're facing is that many of the contacted companies are not big enough to transform the beans directly. Most often, they are really interested to our project but use an intermediary to transform the cocoa beans. Many of the “chocolatiers” are quite small and they need to put them together in order to put pressure on the transformating companies to reach the minimal quantity for a transformation (usually 25 tons).

On the other hand, this tendency is changing thanks to the “bean to bar” trend. More and more (usually very small) chocolatiers are willing to proudly work the beans themselves. The difficult part is therefore to get in touch with those small actors. An online plateform such as algrano.com can be an option to see the possibility to open an online B2B platform for cocoa and to be able to reach those small “chocolatiers” (contact information can be found here).

Last but not least, the big companies such as Cargill, Barry Callebaut are entering the organic market but with a very tight pressure on prices. Our business model is definitely not for those big and strong market players.

However, we stay positive as gebana Togo is the only project with double certification and with guaranteed full tractability of the beans up to the field. Taking this into account as well as the growing organic market, we are very confident on our future.