Switzerland uses 64% of imported quality cocoa from Ghana to produce ‘sweet’ chocolates

The Association of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers (CHOCOSUISSE), which represents the common interests of the Swiss chocolate industry, says it imports about 40,000 tonnes of cocoa beans yearly from across the world.

Out of the about 40,000 tonnes, CHOCOSUISSE says Ghana’s share of the import is 64%.

Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa producer after Ivory Coast.

This was disclosed by Dr. Franz Urs Schmid, Director of CHOCOSUISSE, in an exclusive interview with ghanabusinessnews.com in Accra November 10, 2011. He and some Swiss chocolate producers like Max Felchlin AG were in the country to launch the Swiss funded Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Project in Ghana.

“We work on cocoa beans and we import about 40,000 tonnes of cocoa beans and 64% is the share of Ghana,” Dr Schmid told ghanabusinessnews.com.

CHOCOSUISSE, founded July 1, 1901, is made up 18 independent factories that produce some of the finest and sweetest chocolates for the world market. It has over 5,000 employees.

Dr Schmid explains that Swiss chocolate manufacturers import much from Ghana and other West African cocoa producing countries due to the quality of the beans.

“If you look at production and the quality, we (CHOCOSUISSE) all agree about that – 70% of production is made from West Africa with the remaining 30% from South America and Indonesia,” he said.

“Consumer cocoa from West Africa is very used and we like it. We go for quality and Ghana has the good quality.”

Brigitte Cuendet, Head of Economic Section and Development Cooperation at the Swiss Embassy in Accra during the project launch said “the best cocoa comes from Ghana and Switzerland produces the world’s sweetest chocolates.”

According to Dr Schmid, the association used to import about 25% of cocoa beans from Ivory Coast but “all of a sudden we had more problems with quality because the middlemen were collecting the beans in small amount and the farmers were suffering on the quality.”

He adds, “They gave their beans without proper fermentation before giving to the middle and buyers” adding “it was hard to trace these middlemen.”

He also disclosed that the child labour situation in Ivory Coast led the association to import less from the country than it used to five years ago.

“We need the physical quality of the beans and also the social quality. Swiss consumers became more and more aware of child labour and they are wondering under what social condition farmers were producing the cocoa beans,” he said.

Ghana, Dr Schmid noted, is doing well on the social quality of the beans.

“I think here in Ghana, COCOBOD are doing a good job on the social quality therefore the need to continue importing from Ghana.”

He urged Ghana to produce more of the beans since demand for the crop is growing.

“The need for beans is increasing and so if Ghana produces more, we will buy more.”

Ghana, for the 2010-2011 crop season hit a million tonnes of cocoa production, according to figures posted by the Ghana COCOBOD.

Cocoa purchases declared to Ghana for the first two weeks of the 2011/12 main crop season reached 219,255 tonnes by October 27, the Reuters News Agency reported November 7, 2011 citing data from COCOBOD, the industry regulator.

The purchases, according to the publication, covered the first two weeks of the main crop season that began on October 14. The purchases were up 54.4% on the corresponding period in the previous season.

Ghana recently raised the price of cocoa per tonne from GH¢3,200 to GH¢3,280 and it is targeting to produce between 850,000-900,000 tonnes this crop year.

By Ekow Quandzie

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