Traditional recipes

Ivory Coast: Jamie’s top chocolate recipes

Ivory Coast: Jamie’s top chocolate recipes

There is a fantastic story of a CNN reporter who travelled to the Ivory Coast to do a story on the economics of chocolate. The Ivory Coast is the biggest producer of cocoa in the world, accounting for almost half the supply, and he was there to investigate the reasons behind the appalling living conditions of the cocoa farmers in the country.

Poverty is still rife among those harvesting the cocoa beans, but what shocked the reporter most was the fact that the farmers had never even tasted the chocolate produced from their beans. At a meeting of the Elders of a village in the Ivory Coast cocoa belt, the reporter gave a KitKat to the leader. The video of the moment makes me smile every time I watch it – seeing the joy on the man’s face as he tries chocolate – chocolate he has helped create – for the first time.

It’s proof that chocolate brings about a childish happiness in all of us. It’s not because it’s a naughty treat, or because it releases endorphins – it’s because there is something special in the flavour of chocolate that no other ingredient can really emulate.

So here are Jamie’s best chocolate recipes – a tribute to chocolate from all over the world – choc full of feel-good factor. Remember, just as you would with any other ingredient, always buy ethically and the best you can afford. It’s not just about taste, it’s about buying responsibly to help give the farmers a fair deal.

Chocolate Clafoutis

Ivory Coast was part of the French Empire right up until 1960, and the whole of West Africa has been influence by the presence of France, Portugal and Britain. This Clafoutis recipe is a mix of the two main exports of the two countries involved – Ivoirian chocolate and swanky French desserts.

Tangerine, chocolate & vanilla salad

Yeah there’s the word salad in the title, but don’t go thinking this is anything but wickedly naughty. It will also banish all bad thoughts about chocolate orange; the fresh fruit and quality chocolate means this is a different flavour sensation. Why this recipe? Because Ivoirians are spoilt for choice with fruits, and apparently particularly enjoy mandarins, which would also work a treat in this recipe.

Chocolate & beetroot cake

Here’s one for the kids to get involved with. They are never going to say no to chocolate cake, so it’s a great way to get them in the kitchen and learning about the joy of baking – as well as the beauty of beets, which add a delicate sweetness that complements the dark chocolate.

Chocolate mousse

Here’s one the kids probably shouldn’t get involved in. This rich mousse is made with amaretto for a rich liqueur edge, so it might be a little grown up. It’s about as good as chocolate puddings get though; the cherries give it a Christmas vibe, but this is great at any time of year.

As Jamie says in the intro to the mousse, chocolate makes the world go around.


Bitter chocolate: Deforestation in the Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast and Ghana gave in to pressure from the global chocolate industry and suspended a ban on cocoa sales.

Abidjan , Ivory Coast – The last piece of chocolate you ate likely had its roots in West Africa, where two-thirds of cocoa beans are produced.

Respectively, Ghana and the Ivory Coast account for roughly 19 and 45 percent of this production, according to data from the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO).

“That provides both countries significant market strength against powerful buyers,” says Casper Burgering, senior economist at ABN AMRO.

Yet when the two nations recently demanded higher compensation for their prized crop from global buyers, the industry called their bluff.

On July 16, Ghana and the Ivory Coast gave in to pressure from the global chocolate industry and lifted a month-long ban on cocoa sales that was meant to push international buyers to accept a new minimum pricing agreement. The two countries settled for a fixed premium price – and now farmers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast will get $400 premium per every tonne of cocoa beans they sell during the 2020-21 harvest season.

The move may slightly boost earnings for West African cocoa farmers. But it is so far from the $2,600-a-tonne minimum price for which Ghana and the Ivory Coast were angling that the negotiations are largely considered a defeat in both these nations.

This is especially painful in the Ivory Coast because the country has destroyed massive portions of its forests trying to satisfy the global demand for chocolate. In 1960, the West African nation had roughly 12 million hectares of forests. Today, nearly three-quarters of that forest is gone, reports the World Bank.

Compounding the pain, many cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast still don’t make a living wage, even though their country is the world’s top producer and exporter of cocoa beans that are the main ingredient in the $100bn global chocolate industry.

“There are times farmers have abandoned cocoa for other crops, but [still they] return, ” says Ivory Coast cocoa merchant Baikeh Lezou, 28. “That means they are producing cocoa beans because they have no other choice.”


From bean to bar in Ivory Coast, a country built on cocoa

A sking about the importance of cocoa in Ivory Coast feels a little like making enquiries about the value of grapes in Burgundy. When I put the question to N’Zi Kanga Rémi, who has for the last 18 years beengovernor of the rural department of Adzopé, north-east of the sprawling port city of Abidjan, he leaned forward in his chair and fixed me with an amused stare.

His booming voice went up a decibel to fill the administrative offices on whose walls his own portrait alternated with that of his nation’s president. “It doesn’t make sense to ask an Ivorian what cocoa means to him!” he said. “It means everything! It’s his first source of income! My education was funded by cocoa! Our houses are built with cocoa! The foundations of our roads, our schools, our hospitals is cocoa! Our government runs on cocoa! All our policy focuses on sustaining cocoa!”

The governor leaned back in his chair and looked for confirmation from the representatives of a local cocoa co-operative who sat with us around the table. He then set about itemising some of the many challenges to that sustainability – the problems of climate change and deforestation and disease, the ongoing crisis of child labour – and some of the ways they were being addressed.

All the solutions he described led back to one intractable problem, however: it has become next to impossible for the 6 million people dependent on cocoa in his country to survive on the money they receive for their crop. Ivory Coast supplies 30% of the cocoa beans for the world chocolate market but the average daily earnings for a farmer here is just a bit more than the price of a KitKat: 74p. “I’m not sure any more that international trade can bring people out of poverty here,” the governor said. “Because though we grow the cocoa, the market happens elsewhere.”

The meeting with the governor came during a few days I spent travelling between cocoa farms and villages in the company of Michael Gidney, the chief executive of Fairtrade UK, and Anne-Marie Yao (or “Mama Cocoa”, as she is known to the farmers here), who is in charge of developing and certifying Fairtrade co-operatives in west Africa . As the governor spoke, I jotted down the links in the chain of value that he described. Only the first of those links occurs here: the hard labour that nurtures cocoa trees and removes the beans from their pods, then shells and dries them and sells them at a fixed price through traders into a global market. The far more lucrative links, those that create processed products and branded chocolate bars for our supermarket shelves, are practically all in Europe, cornered by half a dozen or so vast corporations, such as Mondēlez (which owns Cadbury), Nestlé or Mars.

Among the most important final destinations for Ivory Coast cocoa is the UK, where 700,000 tonnes of chocolate are consumed each year, or 11kg per person, or three bars a week. But the relationship between the UK chocolate consumers and the west African producers has undergone a profound shift. When cocoa prices were high in the 1970s, the beans accounted for nearly half of the value of a chocolate bar. Today, producers receive around 6% of the value of the final product. The rest goes to branded manufacturers, who take roughly a 44% share, and retailers who take 35%. The price wars at our supermarket checkouts do not impact each link of the supply chain equally. In 2018, the year after the price of cocoa paid to farmers in Ivory Coast fell by a third, the Swiss-based Barry Callebaut, the world’s biggest supplier of chocolate and cocoa products, posted a 12% jump in profits to $288m.

Children of cocoa farmers near Adzope. Surveys suggest that there are still more than 2 million children working in west Africa’s cocoa fields. Photograph: Chris Terry/Fairtrade

When this crisis in value for small farmers first became clear, it led to the idea of a new relationship between the consumer in the UK and the cocoa producer, one which valued transparency of the supply chain. Green & Black’s Maya Gold was the first product to be stamped with the Fairtrade logo, 25 years ago, in March 1994. There are now several hundred Fairtrade chocolate products on UK shelves (still only about 13% of the market – Green & Black’s, now owned by Mondēlez, has withdrawn from Fairtrade to operate under its own certification system).

Because the squeeze in the value of the commodity makes the situation of cocoa farmers ever more precarious, Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual effort to raise awareness of trade justice issues, which begins on Monday, will focus once again on chocolate. The guaranteed minimum price for Fairtrade cocoa is rising 20% to $2,400 a tonne, to which is added a $240 premium available to use for investment in social and economic projects. There is, too, a particular focus on women. “She deserves a living income”, runs the event’s tagline.

You don’t have to travel far from the governor’s offices into the low hills and forest around Adzopé out east to the Ghanaian border to feel the full force of that demand. The cocoa villages are desperately poor. Some have no access to a water pump, few have sanitation or drainage. Electricity is still a limited and miraculous thing.

Old customs die hard in these villages. Before visiting the co-operative farms, it is routinely necessary to pay a visit to the village chief, a hereditary position, and take part in a ceremony involving sharing water with his representatives, while the main man sits impassive in a plastic garden chair.

The best of the co-operative farms I saw, by contrast, do all they can to embrace progress. They have large handpainted signs up which detail their commitments, including pledges to outlaw child labour and protect the threatened forest land. The farmers explain some of the challenges to these commitments. At night, “forestières” will come and illegally chop down hardwood trees at the edge of their farms, a practice that is rarely prosecuted by corrupt officials, who blame the farmers themselves. “If it is the producers who are cutting down trees, why do we remain so poor?” the farmers say, with follow-the-money logic. (There is enough money in one large hardwood tree to cover three years of money that cocoa farmers can earn from their crop.)

Surveys suggest that there are still more than 2 million children working in west Africa’s cocoa fields, some using hazardous chemicals or working with machetes. Trafficking and slavery remain endemic. The Fairtrade co-operatives monitor and outlaw these practices but for most families there is still the necessity for children to help with appropriate tasks after school.

The research suggests that the most effective ways of changing that situation is through greater empowerment of women in what remain highly patriarchal communities. There are 18 steps in cocoa preparation and women do 15 of them, but few have legal title to land or much say in decision making.

Working the new water pump, purchased with Fairtrade premium at Assatinbin village. Photograph: Chris Terry/Fairtrade

Yao – Mama Cocoa – has been pioneering a scheme to combat that fact. One of the first graduates of her Women’s School of Leadership is Awa Bamba, the director general of a co-op called Cayat, which involves more than 3,000 farmers in 38 villages. In her two years in charge, Bamba has overcome resistance from more traditional voices by almost doubling the yield of the co-op’s farms through training, and – using the Fairtrade premium – led diversification into poultry and egg production (which also produces fertiliser for 100 farms).

She has directed investment to a Cayat radio station to disseminate messages about agronomy and health, and toward nursery schools that allow women the freedom to work. A micro-loan scheme has been created, women lending to women, which carries zero interest if used for school fees. When she first attended the training, Bamba was asked about her aspirations. She said: “I want to be young and married and in leadership.”

In the course of a few days, I met many other women who have gone through the programme and assumed leadership positions. Talking to them is like watching Educating Rita on fast forward. Leocadi Voh, 53, who has raised seven children on one hectare of land, explained to me how she employed new techniques to create the record yield for her co-op and used micro-finance to send her eldest daughter to university to be a vet.

Rosine Bekoin, who has since her training adopted a kick-ass blond highlight to her hair, now runs the plant nursery at Cayat. She proudly gives me a tour of the rows of 30,000 young cocoa plants that will replace ageing trees. Her husband tells me he was initially unsure about the training, “but now Rosine shines bright”.

One of the problems the co-operatives face is that the market will only take a proportion of their cocoa on Fairtrade terms. Prices remains volatile and, in between the two annual harvests, farmers find themselves desperate to feed their families. That “hungry month” desperation creates opportunity for “pisteurs”, the traditional local agents who bypass the collective arrangements of the co-op and pay farmers in cash. In one village we met Vincent Jafferi, who insists he is an “exceptionally honest” pisteur. He works out of a little office, and took up the job because a disability prevents him from working the land.

Such men as Jafferi are sometimes portrayed as the villains of the value chain, giving farmers less than their crop is worth. In reality, obviously, they are small components in a system weighted against them as well as farmers. Jafferi takes a couple of kilos commission for each 30 kilos of beans he sells, and has no control of the next stages of the market in which international cocoa traders manipulate notorious volatility in demand and supply. In a good month, Jafferi makes £100.

A cocoa farming village in Camaye Cooperative, Abengourou. Photograph: Chris Terry/Fairtrade

As Gidney observes: “Farmers need sales but, to make sales work in a sustainable way, they need market intelligence, about trends in chocolate buying. When the world market price collapsed for cocoa, the farmers – and the pisteurs – were the last to know.”

In that complex world, there are always new obstacles coming down the line. There has been much talk lately of a newly “global Britain”. Those who peddle that idea seem to want to offer a nostalgic promise of re-establishing old trading relationships, cutting out EU regulation. Shackles are often mentioned. The truth is that countries such as Ivory Coast qualify for developing nation status that guarantees tariff-free access to European markets for their cocoa beans and, theoretically, cocoa products. Their principal problem is not tariffs but access to finance and investment that would allow them to process their commodity at scale, the parts of the chain fiercely guarded by the big multinational players.

How the uncertainty that might attend a no-deal Brexit would affect those trading relationships is currently anyone’s guess. Cadbury is stockpiling ingredients Ferrero Rocher has advised of a 20% rise in cost base there have been rumours that Mars bars could be rationed by Easter. The UK government has made some commitments to rolling over current trading arrangements with nations such as Ivory Coast, but with a month to go, the legislation has not been signed.

In Ivory Coast, I asked farmers if they had ever heard the word Brexit. They rolled it around their mouths for the first time. Tellingly, the only farmer who knew the concept was Abu Aboukami, president of the Camaye Co-operative in Abengourou, near the Ghanaian border. Aboukami was the most enterprising of the co-operative leaders we met. When the prices of cocoa crashed in 2016-17, he persuaded his co-op that it must use its premium to invest in making its own chocolate, to sell initially in Abidjan and, if successful, to an export market. The rudimentary pilot operation was up and running, employing 50 women. The chocolate was delicious. When Aboukami first heard about Brexit, and connected it with the mandatory 30% World Trade Organisation tariff on finished confectionery, his first thought was that it might “crush those dreams”. “Our economic plan wouldn’t work,” he said. “How will we then be able to take care of our families?”


Chocolate war: Hershey, Mars accused of trying to undermine cocoa farmers’ pay

A fight between the world’s top cocoa producers and America’s largest chocolate makers is getting worse.

Ivory Coast and Ghana, which account for about 70% of the world’s supply, accused Hershey Co., the maker of Kisses and Reese’s peanut butter cups, of squeezing the futures market in an effort to avoid paying a premium aimed at boosting farmers’ incomes, according to letters and a statement by cocoa regulators seen by Bloomberg. The countries also said Mars Inc. had changed its buying patterns for the same reason.

As a result, the countries canceled all of the sustainability programs Hershey is involved in directly or indirectly, and said companies running programs on behalf of the Pennsylvania chocolate maker will also be barred from operating them.

The accusations are a further hit to the reputations of chocolate makers, which have comeunder increasing pressure for their role in deforestation, child labor and poverty. They also underscore the uneasy, often volatile relationship between poorer nations producing the beans and companies selling the finished product to wealthier customers.

“Some chocolatiers and trade houses have adopted covert strategies to circumvent the farmer income improvement mechanism with the aim of collapsing it,” Yves Kone, managing director of Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, and Joseph Boahen Aidoo, chief executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board, said in a Monday statement seen by Bloomberg. They said they will do “whatever is within our power to protect the over 3 million farmers from impoverishment.”

Chocolate makers and cocoa processors had agreed to pay the West African nations a “living income differential” of $400 a ton on top of the futures market, but after the pandemic slashed demand, companies need to cut costs to weather a second wave of stay-at-home orders spanning the globe.

Last month, Hershey took the unusual step of directly sourcing its cocoa via the exchange, as the premium charged by Ghana and Ivory Coast made cocoa inventories that back futures contracts in New York more attractive. The move upended the cocoa market on ICE Futures U.S., with December futures climbing to a record over March.

In a Monday letter to Hershey, Ivory Coast and Ghana accused the company of “conspiracy and machinations,” saying the use of the exchange was a clear indication of Hershey’s intention to avoid paying the living income differential.

Failure to comply with the orders would mean companies could lose their licenses to operate in the countries, they added.

The spat is also a risk for Ivory Coast and Ghana, which still have a lot of their crops to sell, said Judy Ganes, president of J. Ganes Consulting, who has followed markets for more than 30 years.

Ivory Coast and Ghana have in the past threatened to suspend chocolate makers’ sustainability programs, a tactic that in the past has worked. Still, market conditions are “vastly different” now, and the countries, particularly Ivory Coast, have also failed to limit output as promised, Ganes said.

Ivory Coast’s regulator confirmed the letters and the statement. Fiifi Boafo, a spokesman for the Ghana Cocoa Board, could not immediately comment when reached by phone.

The countries also accused Chicago cocoa processor Blommer Chocolate Co., which usually processes large amounts of beans for Hershey, of collaborating with Hershey, according to a separate Monday letter sent to the Cocoa Merchants’ Assn. of America in which the countries withdrew their membership from the group.

“We are fully participating in the [living income differential] for cocoa purchases already made from the 2020-2021 crop as we buy a substantial supply sourced from West Africa,” Hershey said in a statement. “We will continue to participate in the [living income differential] to support cocoa farmer livelihoods going forward. We look forward to further discussing this with Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana and to hopefully continue the sustainability programs that are benefiting cocoa farmers today.

“Our concern is that by cutting off industry sustainability programs, cocoa farmers will be negatively impacted as they will no longer receive the benefits provided by our on-the-ground programs as well as the price premium for certified cocoa.”

Blommer didn’t respond to a request for comment.

This year, a report sponsored by the U.S. government showed that child labor had gotten worse, a decade after the $100-billion chocolate industry pledged to reduce it.

The regulators also took aim at the maker of Twix, saying Mars had migrated the bulk of its cocoa butter purchases to its traditional processors, buying from JB Cocoa and Guan Chong Berhad instead just to avoid paying the premium. Mars said it “categorically disagrees” with the allegations and highlighted that it was the first major manufacturer to support the living income differential.

The nations also said Olam International Inc., the third-largest cocoa processor, had pursued a strategy of reducing the amount of Ghana and Ivory Coast beans from its recipes. The Singapore trader reiterated its “strong support” for farmers and boosting their incomes, in line with the objectives of the living income differential.

“As one of the largest buyers of cocoa from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, our commitment is unwavering and we continue to support and purchase cocoa from both countries,” said Gerry Manley, head of cocoa at Olam.

The cocoa regulators also said that they were reviewing their membership in the Federation of Cocoa Commerce in London and that they are “reconsidering the incentives and the licenses granted to members of the FCC which are directly or subtly rejecting” the living income differential.

“Ivory Coast and Ghana might be sending a stern warning to the trade, but they also need to be able to sell their cocoa, of which they have plenty,” said Ganes, who previously worked for Wall Street giant Merrill Lynch. “This is a stare-down for sure, with gloves off, and will be interesting to see who blinks first.”

Almeida, Mieu and De Bassompierre write for Bloomberg.

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Cocoa farmers taste sweet success in Ivory Coast

Cocoa farmers across Ivory Coast, the world's biggest producer of the key ingredient for chocolate, are down in the dumps after prices for their commodity have fallen for the second year running. But in M'Brimbo, a village in the centre of the country, growers are prospering after their farms became a testing ground for organic cocoa farming 11 years ago.

Beijing’s top diplomat in Hong Kong doubles down on warnings to ‘foreign forces’ in first public appearance

Beijing’s new top diplomat in Hong Kong, who called the battle against “foreign forces” his top priority after taking the job last month, has doubled down on that message, saying those seeking to curb China’s growth or undermine its dignity are “doomed to fail”. In his first public appearance as commissioner of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, Liu Guangyuan on Wednesday said last week’s passing of an anti-sanctions law by China’s top legislative body reflected a “pressing ne


Last but not the least we will cover the king of Ivorian street food the Garba . This is nothing but deep-fried tuna and Attiéké which is cassava ground into couscous like texture. This is mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes, a dash of oil and some seasoning – you can use the Ataro Foods & Spices’ spice blend for this purpose. If you are not visiting Ivory Coast, you can very well make this at home and savour the goodness!

So what did you all think of today’s post? Interesting? We hope we kindled some interest in you, our readers towards Ivorian cuisine with these Top 5 Dishes from Ivory Coast. If you are interested in purchasing some amazing spice blends, head to the Ataro Foods & Spices online store ! Happy cooking!!


Typical food of Côte d’Ivoire

Most Ivoirians depend on grain and root vegetables, yams, plantains, maize, rice and peanuts with Fufu (the national dish).

They are usually served with meat (often chicken and fish which are favourites) and kedjenou, a vegetable sauce made with aubergines, okra, tomatoes and peanuts.

Attiéké – Similar to couscous and made from grated cassava, it is a popular side dish.

Spices are popular with imported and local hot pepper often found to accentuate flavours.

Grains and vegetables are typically served with a variety of sauces and fresh fruit is a standard dessert.

Local palm wine, ginger beer and Youki soda (a little sweeter than tonic water) are local favourite drinks.

Outdoor markets, street vendors and the local maquis (a restaurant unique to Côte d’Ivoire) are the best places to sample local food.The maquis are reasonably priced and can be found throughout the country.

The Ivoirians are generous and hospitable people who enjoy inviting others to join them for a meal. They believe that those who are blessed enough to be able to prepare a meal should share their good fortune with others.

In a typical village, all the villagers will gather to eat in a common area because eating not only feeds the body, it unites people with a community spirit.

Women, men and young boys eat separately from one another on a large mat, placed on the ground.

The food is scooped up from large bowls with the right hand. Rice is usually rolled into a tight ball and is used to scoop up meat and sauce.

The eldest villagers eat first so that they can detect any contaminated or sour food. If someone suspects that the food is contaminated in any way, the elders will stop the younger members from eating.

Once everyone has begun eating, strict table manners are enforced:

It’s rude to reach across the table for food and coughing and sneezing at the table is frowned upon.

After meals, a bowl of water is passed around for everyone can wash their hands.

The typical food of the tribes of Côte d ‘Ivoire

The Agni and Abron farm cocoa and coffee.

The Senufo tribes
, who live in the country’s northern savannah region, cultivate yams, millet and rice. The rice is served with a peppery peanut sauce.

The Dioula of the far northwest, cultivate millet, rice and peanuts.

The Kulango people of the north, grow watermelons, maize, yams and peanuts.

The coastal tribes have a seafood and vegetable rich menu.

Throwing a Côte d’ Ivorian-style bash? Click here to see Food24’s Côte d’ Ivorian party menu!


Chocolate industry drives rainforest disaster in Ivory Coast

The world’s chocolate industry is driving deforestation on a devastating scale in West Africa, the Guardian can reveal.

Cocoa traders who sell to Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and other big brands buy beans grown illegally inside protected areas in the Ivory Coast, where rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% since 1960.

Illegal product is mixed in with “clean” beans in the supply chain, meaning that Mars bars, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Milka bars could all be tainted with “dirty” cocoa. As much as 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from Ivory Coast.

How does ɽirty' cocoa end up in our chocolate?

The chocolate industry works mainly as follows: small-scale farmers grow cocoa on plantations, many of which are illegal as they are in national parks or protected forests. They sell it to middlemen with motorbikes known as ‘pisteurs’, or direct to buyers in local towns. These supply traders, which are often multimillion-dollar companies, which in turn sell to big chocolatiers. There are so many transactions in the supply chains that big brands sourcing from implicated traders cannot be sure their product is not contaminated.

The Guardian travelled across Ivory Coast and documented rainforests cleared for cocoa plantation villages and farmers occupying supposedly protected national parks enforcement officials taking kickbacks for turning a blind eye to infractions and trading middlemen who supply the big brands indifferent to the provenance of beans.

When approached for comment, Mars, Mondelez and Nestlé, and traders Cargill and Barry Callebaut did not deny the specific allegation that illegal deforestation cocoa had entered their supply chains. All said they were working hard to eradicate the commodity from their products.

Ivory Coast deforestation

Up to 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced by 2 million farmers in a belt that stretches from Sierra Leone to Cameroon, but Ivory Coast and Ghana are the giants, the world’s first and second biggest producers. They are also the biggest victims of deforestation. Ivory Coast is losing its forests at a faster rate than any other African country – less than 4% of the country is covered in rainforest. Once, one quarter was.

The ballooning global demand for chocolate means that if nothing is done, by 2030 there will be no forest left, according to the environmental group Mighty Earth which today publishes an investigation into deforestation caused by chocolate. The final, insulting irony is that locals are so poor they could never afford to eat a Mars bar.

Evidence of deforestation is not hard to find. Inside the Mount Tia protected forest, Salam Sawadougou, a Burkinabé farmer, is hacking a yellow cocoa pod off one of his plants in a four hectare (10 acre) plot. Here, the grey stumps of enormous ancient trees are all that is left of the forest.

“I burned it little by little,” Sawadougou says, explaining that his cocoa needed full sun to grow. Farmers generally believe that recently deforested soil produces the biggest beans, so they remove the trees one by one, planting more cocoa as they go.

In recent years, the annual rate of deforestation inside parks has doubled, and in both Ivory Coast and Ghana, it is going twice as fast as deforestation in unprotected areas.

Cocoa is a monster that will eventually eat itself, scientists say. Farmers will miss the trees they cut and burned down for the very reason that their shade would have protected their cocoa plants from increasingly parched, dry seasons, driven by cutting down trees.

When approached for comment, most big companies acknowledged the problem of deforestation for cocoa production and said they were committed to tackling the problem.

Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer at Mars, said: “We are committed to identifying the best ways to end deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain.

“We know that sustainable cocoa is too big a challenge for any one company to address. That is why we are partnering with others in the industry to try and drive change at a global scale.”

Nestlé said it was “opposed to the deforestation of rainforests and peatlands around the world. Nestlé regards it as one of the most serious environmental challenges facing the world.”

It noted that in 2010 it had pledged that none of its products should be associated with deforestation, and added that it supported international moves to secure zero net-deforestation by 2020.

Mondelez’s Cathy Pieters said that deforestation in supply chains was something they were actively trying to root out.

“We all recognise the urgency, and we all acknowledge the issue,” she said. “As an individual company we have probably worked the longest on this. We are exactly in the middle of that process, because of the urgency and the need for a solution.”

Hershey said it was committed to sourcing 100% certified, sustainably sourced cocoa by 2020. “We take concerns about deforestation and forest degradation very seriously,” said spokesman Jeff Beckman.

Ferrero did not respond to request for comment.

Cocoa dries outside the chief’s house in the illegal village of Zanbarmakro in the Marahoué national park, Ivory Coast. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/The Guardian

The cocoa traders Cargill said: “We have made a pledge to end deforestation – and we are committed to delivering.” The company added that it was aiming to ensure that more than 70% of its Ivory Coast product would be third-party verified or certified by the end of next year.

Barry Callebaut, another trading firm, pointed out its commitment to be 100% deforestation free by 2025.

It added: “For any global company/industry commitment to succeed, the boundaries of the national parks and forêt classée [classified forests] need to be redrawn or reconfirmed for an area equivalent to its original designation. The redrawn or reconfirmed boundaries need to be legally enforced by the governments.”

Many cocoa industry players – although not all – have pledged to end deforestation and forest degradation in a collective statement published in June. But this is a vague promise to try harder, while the real test will be the contents of the framework for action presented at the UN’s Convention on Climate Change in November.

A captive monkey, one of the last remaining in Mount Tia protected forest, Ivory Coast. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/The Guardian

Some of the farmers growing cocoa inside protected areas have been living there for decades, and how to resettle them and find them a new means of making a living is one of the major problems that the government and the industry need to work out in November.

None of the companies said they would support a moratorium on deforestation cocoa, despite the fact that one on soy worked well to stop deforestation in the Amazon. Neither did they say they would commit to 100% shade-grown cocoa.

Government commitment to protecting national forests is also key. “Companies alone can’t solve this, and the government alone can’t solve this,” says Richard Scobey of the World Cocoa Foundation.

The situation inside the country’s 231 classified forests is even worse than in the parks, and this has partly to do with the different authorities that run them.

The government-funded agency protecting forests is called Sodefor the state parks authority is the OIPR (Office Ivorien des Parcs et Réserves). Neither is doing its job. In the Marahoué park, the Guardian found repeated examples of kickbacks and racketeering by OIPR officials. In the Mount Tia classified forest, the top Sodefor official, Karma Bakary, was asked how long it would take for the forest to grow back to its former size. “One to two years,” he said. Under further questioning he upped his estimate to 10 years.

It is also the responsibility of the Conseil Café Cacao, the state regulator for coffee and cocoa, to oversee the industry, checking the quality of the cocoa, ensuring the right prices are being paid, and seeing that none of it is grown using child labour or in protected areas.

Responding to the Guardian, the Conseil Café Cacao said that it was committed to “good governance and ethics” in its activities and pointed to a programme it started, Cocoa, Friend of the Forest. There is little evidence of the programme on the ground.

Privately, activists have been warned not to touch cocoa, the backbone of the country’s economy whose vertebrae reach the highest levels of society. Those who do can get in to serious trouble. In 2004 Guy-André Kieffer, a French-Canadian journalist working on a story about cocoa and corruption, disappeared. He is believed to have been killed.

Evidence of deforestation in Mount Tia protected forest, Ivory Coast. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/The Guardian

The destruction of Mount Tia started in 2004, during the first Ivorian civil war, but its much larger neighbour, Mount Sassandra forest, remained almost untouched until 2011, long after that conflict ended.

In Mount Sassandra, farmers run away at the sight of visitors, aware that their business is illegal. But these farmers are not the ones earning the vast profits to be made from chocolate: many live in poverty, often exploited and underpaid for their crop. Most cannot even afford that basic luxury in the west: a bar of chocolate.


Cooking Around the World Studies

  • Facts about the country
  • Fun country food facts
  • A Phrase in the native language (if possible)
  • Map of country, flag or pictures of country
  • International Recipes for kids to try

Cooking international recipes is a great way to get your kids involved and learn about other cultures throughout the world. Make it a family tradition and have an International night each month. You can dress up for the occasion, create ethnic food and take a trip without leaving your house.



To unlock the properties of the ruby bean and create ruby chocolate, the full production process from the cocoa bean to the ruby chocolate is carefully managed. Fermentation, temperature, conching time and the acidity level are key process parameters.

A natural process

Like for any dark, milk and white chocolate, the unique processing is key. Chocolate does not grow by itself, it’s the processing of the ingredients that unlocks the colors and flavors that are naturally present in the beans. The same is true for ruby chocolate. We don't use any additives, all is included in the bean itself. This means the pink ruby color and fruity flavor of ruby chocolate is 100% natural.

The production of ruby chocolate cannot be called 'natural', simply because it’s not happening spontaneously in nature. This is the same for any other chocolate production. So to create ruby chocolate with its characteristic flavor and color, we bring natural ingredients together. No berry flavor, nor pink color or any other color is added!

Adding citric acid to ruby chocolate

To create ruby chocolate we use citric acid that is abundantly found in nature, in a variety of fruits and vegetables, like citrus fruits. Lemons and limes have particularly high concentrations of the acid.

Adding citric acid is happening all around us, in our own kitchens at home and in the food industry. At home, we add lemon juice, cream, vinegar to our recipes and applications to pronounce flavors and/or colors of the ingredients used during cooking.


Chocolate makers map 600K cocoa farms in Ghana, Ivory Coast

As managers of food supply chains procure supplies, they must also meet the increasing expectations of consumers seeking transparency. In the cocoa and chocolate industry, visibility into direct sourcing provides companies information they can share with consumers concerned with issues such as deforestation.

Many of the world's chocolate makers — Cargill, Hershey, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle and others — have already joined the World Cocoa Foundation to address deforestation concerns.

Hershey, for example, announced this year it enacted a company policy to end deforestation in its supply chain by 2030. The policy focused on products that had the greatest risk of causing deforestation, including cocoa, palm oil and soy. Hershey has worked with CFI to restore forests and support sustainable cocoa production.

Cargill also created a strategy to eliminate deforestation by 2030. Its Protect Our Planet plan outlined steps to reach 100% traceability by 2020 and included the company's commitment to not convert any additional forest land for cocoa production in Ghana and Ivory Coast — where nearly 60% of the world's cocoa is produced.

Deforestation, caused by aggressive farming practices, can lead to shortages and long-term disruptions to supply chains. One important step to combating deforestation is adding transparency into sourcing.

Companies used technology such as barcodes and digital point-to-point systems to track cocoa from farm to warehouse and throughout the chain, according to the 2020 CFI Annual Report. Cargill noted the ability to trace cocoa digitally to the farm level helps the company understand cocoa production's environmental impact, and take action to improve practices.

But financing the implementation and maintenance of a unified traceability system to track cocoa and chocolate products to reach full transparency is a challenge, the report said.

Supply chain transparency allows companies to better meet their deforestation goals by knowing where products come from and how suppliers farm the land. Tracing and mapping suppliers help companies figure out who is using sustainable practices and who is not.

With that information, companies can decide whether to work with suppliers to improve practices or cut ties, keeping relationships with the suppliers in line with their deforestation goals.

Without transparency, companies run the risk of missing goals and having to deal with the public consequences.

This story was first published in our weekly newsletter, Supply Chain Dive: Procurement. Sign up here.

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