The Grenadian cacao market (Part 2)
The Grenada Chocolate Festival is really different from all the other festivals I have attended in the last years. It is one of the only festivals where participants can visit craft bean-to-bar chocolate makers and cacao plantations all around the country, as well as take part in various activities like chocolate yoga or skin products creation with cacao. The range of activities is really diversified, and one leaves the country knowing more about every aspects of the chocolate industry in Grenada. Talk about the health benefits of chocolate. You can find part of the talk here. Chocolate facial mask with cocoa powder European chocolate tasting with Elle Coco During our numerous field visits to cacao plantations and chocolate makers, I was pleased to see how many tree-to-bar makers (note 1) appeared in the last years in Grenada. There are now four of them including the well-known Grenada Chocolate Company, and a fifth one will be ready soon to sell his products. The chocolate industry is literally booming, and the Grenadian people are really proud of what is happening in their country. I did not visit all the cacao producing countries, but in the ones I traveled to, I have not seen that deep awareness and pride anywhere else. Except in Peru, where there are 12 to 15 bean-to-bar makers (and probably even more since my last visit in July 2016). Starting to make chocolate on site, in a cacao producing country, is a great way to add value to a raw material and to create more jobs in the country. It is also a way to bypass the low prices farmers receive for their crop. While in Grenada, I learned that an organization called Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA) is in charge of buying, selling and exporting all the cacao beans Grenada produces. In doing so, they also fix the price to be paid to the producers. This association, owned at least in part by farmers, has the monopoly to buy cacao (Note 2). The GCA buys wet beans (Note 3) for 1,50$ EC per pound (around 0,55$ USD), in line with the commodity market; then they ferment and dry them in one of their facilities. The price paid by the GCA is not enough for the farmers to make a living. It is also not enough to recognize the specificity of the fine flavour cacao from Grenada: this cacao should not be traded on the stock market. That is one of the reasons why youths do not want to take over the family farms. And as everywhere else in the world, cacao producers are getting older, the majority of them in Grenada being in their 50s or even their 60s. Visit at the Grenada Chocolate Factory. Credits: Grenada Chocolate Festival. When a cacao producer in Grenada decides to make chocolate with his beans, he does not need to go through the GCA, which can be a huge advantage (Note 4). In that sense, the Grenada Chocolate Company has been a pioneer. When Mott Green founded the company in 1999, he created a cooperative, and farmers were part of it too. There were 10 farmers at the beginning; there are now more than 30, all organic certified. By incorporating the farmers in the company, Mott was allowed to buy their cacao beans directly, and he paid a higher price. Today, the Grenada Chocolate Company still pays more for its cacao: 2,50$ EC / pound (around 0,93$ USD) (Note 5). And since the company is a cooperative, farmers also get part of the profits. In the next part of this series, I will talk more about the mythical Grenada Chocolate Company and the challenges it will face in the next months. With Edmond Brown, co-founder of The Grenada Chocolate Company Note 1: Since everyone making chocolate in Grenada also grows it’s cacao, it’s more appropriate to use the expression tree-to-bar than bean-to-bar. Note 2: Three of its board members come from the government, while the remaining six are elected by the members of the association (Grenada Cocoa Association Act). Note 3: The wet beans are the beans freshly removed from the pods, before they undergo the fermentation and drying processes. The GCA has centralized fermentation and drying centers. Note 4: Personal communication with Lylette Primell (Crayfish Bay Chocolate) and James Mort (The Grenada Chocolate Company). Note 5: Personal communication with James Mort (The Grenada Chocolate Company).
What role do women play in cocoa and chocolate industry?
On January the 20th, I was invited to participate on a panel called “How can women transform the food industry for women?” during the International Forum. This forum was organized by CECI and WUSC-EUMC, the two organizations with which I was able to go to Peru in July 2016. In the weeks previous to this forum, I dug deeper into the topic of women’s conditions in cacao and chocolate production. There are many inequalities, but things are changing little by little, and numerous initiatives appeared in the last few years to help women and add value to their work. The situation According to statistics from the World Cocoa Foundation, in agriculture in general, « Women perform 66 % of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but only manage 10% of the income and only own 1% of the property » (World Cocoa Foundation). The situation is similar in cacao production. In West Africa, between 15% and 25% of women working in a cacao field own the land (UTZ Certified and Solidaridad, 2009). The others are spouses of cacao farmers, family members or employees. Access to land is one of the major barriers for female producers, and other obstacles result from it: access to cooperatives, credit, training and market (1). Percentage of land ownership in West Africa. Source: CLP survey; Empowering Women and Fighting Poverty: Cocoa and Land Rights in West Africa: International Food and Policy Research Institute; Dalberg analysis. Oftentimes, the work of those women is less recognized, and they get lower salaries than men. However, they participate in 50% of the tasks related to the cultivation of cacao, and as much as 70% in some countries like in Ghana (Andoh, 2017). Also, most of the time, the tasks they complete are essential to the quality of the cacao beans. They are the ones taking care of the young cacao trees in the nursery, or in charge of the post-harvest processes: fermentation, drying, sorting of the bean (The Gender and Cocoa Livelihoods Toolbox). These steps are crucial to getting a high quality cacao. That’s indeed what I observed during my trip to Madagascar in the Fall of 2016. Pod breaking, MAVA Plantation (Madagascar) Drying cacao beans, Plantation Millot (Madagascar) Sorting cacao beans, MAVA Plantation (Madagascar) The situation of the female bean-to-bar (b2b) chocolate makers is different. Since I started in the industry in 2008, the number of female b2b makers has largely increased. In Canada only, there are about thirty b2b makers right now and more than half of them are run by women alone or couples where the woman has a very influential role in the production. The weight of the cacao bags or the very mechanical and technical side of the production don’t seem to stop them (2). Most of the female b2b makers I talked to told me that their biggest challenge as women was to get cacao beans directly from farmers. Unfortunately, some of them are not taken seriously when they do business with male producers, wether they are based in Canada, in the USA or in a cacao producing country (3). Several of them would like to work with female cacao producers, but they don’t always know how to reach them or the cooperatives in which they are members. Positive initiatives One of the solutions is to help women from all spheres of the chocolate industry connect by giving them the possibility to meet and forge links. Since May 2016, those connections are possible thanks to the Women in Cocoa and Chocolate Network (WINCC). Helping women to create relationships between those who cultivate cacao, transform it, sell the final products and those who offer education is very important. And I think it’s the key for things to continue improving. However, positives initiatives are plentiful and we should talk more about them. In many cacao producing countries, women cooperatives or cooperatives run by women are put in place. I’m thinking, among others, about the Cooperative des femmes entrepreneurs de Côte d’Ivoire (COFENCI) or Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana. More than a third of the members of this cooperative are women, and they are represented on all the committees. In Peru, the Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa, that cultivates coffee and cacao, has a women as general manager, Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, and she is respected by all. Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, General Manager of C.A.C. Pangoa Those are only some examples of positive initiatives by and for women in the cacao and chocolate industry. Women in cacao producing countries have more and more opportunities to cultivate and sell their cacao, but they need to have access to market. A well, more and more b2b female chocolate makers are seeking the female producers because they would like to work with them. Not only because they are women, but also because of their high quality cacao! NOTES 1. For further details on the barriers women face in the production of cacao, read the thorough report from UTZ Certified and Solidaridad (2009). 2. However, some select their machines accordingly, buying those that are lighter or easier to move. (Palette de Bine, personal communication). 3. Personal communication with Q’UMA Chocolate, QANTU, Palette de Bine. BIBLIOGRAPHIE Andoh, D. (January 12th 2107). « Female cocoa farmer groups receive support to improve yields », Graphic Online. En ligne: http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/female-cocoa-farmer-groups-receive-support-to-improve-yields.html. Barrientos, S. (2013). « Gender production networks: Sustaining cocoa-chocolate sourcing in Ghana and India », Brooks World Poverty Institute (no. 186). Manchester. Barometer Consortium (2015). Cocoa Barometer 2015. Online: http://www.cocoabarometer.org/Home.html International Food Policy Research Institute. (2002). Empowering Women and Fighting Poverty: Cocoa and Land Rights in West Africa: International Food and Policy Research Institute; Dalberg analysis. Oxfam. https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/gender-inequality-cocoa-ivory-coast.pdf. The Gender and Cocoa Livelihoods Toolbox, http://genderandcocoalivelihoods.org/ UTZ Certified and Solidaridad. (2009). The role of certification and producer support in promoting gender equality in cocoa production. Online: https://utzcertified.org/attachments/article/92/CocoaGenderUTZSolidaridad_2009.pdf. World Cocoa Foundation. Online: http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/files_mf/womenincocoafarming_presentations.pdf
Business delegation in Peru
(This blog post was first published on the Uniterra Volunteer Blog.) I came back some weeks ago from a wonderful trip to Peru with five other Quebecers working in the chocolate industry: Isabella, my colleague at Miss Choco, Daniel and Alcina (Chocolats Monarque, Montréal), and Sylviane and Narada (Chocolaterie Le Cacaoyer, L’Assomption). We went to Peru as “business volunteers” thanks to the Uniterra program, created by CECI and WUSC-EUMC. During those two weeks, we had the opportunity to meet with Peruvian bean-to-bar chocolate makers (1), visit plantations in the region of San Martin and meet professionals from all over the world that are involved in the chocolate industry. Our delegation on the first day in Lima. With Christian Clément and Roy Vera Chung. Credits: Roy Vera Chung This trip to Peru was very special for me for a lot of different reasons. First of all, I visited my first cacao plantation in this country, in October of 2010. I was put in contact with Norandino (a coop from Piura, called at that time Cepicafe), thanks to Martin Christy (2). I was reading about chocolate for two years, but it was not yet the true passion that would change my life. I can say for sure that my passion was born there, in this small cacao farm in Buenos Aires, Peru. My first cacao plantation visit in Buenos Aires (Piura) in 2010. The fact that WUSC-EUMC was one of the organizations involved in our delegation is another reason explaining why this trip was so special for me. During my studies at l’UQAM, I was a volunteer in our local committee. I was very happy to be involved again in a WUSC project and to get to know their Peruvian team! Our delegation visited their office in Lima, where we had the pleasure of meeting the executive director, Chris Eaton, who is based in Ottawa but traveling to Peru during the same time. We had several in-depth discussions with him about our work, bean-to-bar chocolate, cacao trade, etc. At the WUSC office in Lima.Credits: Isabella Geddes. In planning our visit to Peru, I was looking forward to seeing Francesca Valdivia again, founder of Q’uma Chocolate. It was in part because of her that our delegation was made possible. Francesca is a young, passionate and inspiring woman. The connexion between us was instantaneous. She came to Montreal last April for the Salon International de l’Alimentation (SIAL) and during that time, she also visited my store, La Tablette de Miss Choco. The idea of going to Peru to attend the Salon del Cacao y el Chocolate originated at that meeting. If you would like to know more about her, read this article on CECI’s website. Discussion with Francesca Valdivia from Q’uma Chocolate.Credits: Isabella Geddes Francesca and I, as well as the Miss Choco team, share the same vision on a lot of issues, including direct trade and the importance of education to further develop the artisanal bean-to-bar movement. Isabella and I talked a lot with Francesca about how she buys cacao beans. In the following video, she explains why it is so important for her to buy directly from the farmers and to personally know the producers, not only the coop administrators. In Peru, we went to the factory were Francesca makes chocolate. It’s in Pachacamac, a suburb of Lima, in the middle of the desert. The factory is owned by Lisi Montoya (Shattell), another female bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Francesca shares Lisi’s equipment, but she plans on setting up her own factory in the next year. Lisi and Francesca are a sign that the chocolate and cacao industry in Peru are undergoing profound change. Men are still the major presence in cacao plantations and bean-to-bar chocolate factories but increasingly women are getting involved. Isabella and I were lucky enough to discuss this issue with Francesca during the Salón del Cacao y el Chocolate Perú. As you will hear in the following video (in Spanish), she wishes that more women will be involved in cacao cultivation. She also points out that, in her view, it is important for women to help each other in Peru. Francesca Valdivia with Bertilla Mori. Credits: Francesca Valdivia It is an undeniable fact, the chocolate industry is quickly changing in Peru. In the coming years, it will be interesting to follow it’s development. I will talk about that in my next article. Stay tuned! (1) Bean-to-bar: the chocolate maker buys the cacao beans and make everything from the scratch. (2) Martin Christy is, amongst other things, the founder of the Seventy Percent website and also one of the founder of the International Chocolate Awards.