Chocothon: from bean to bar, creating a platform for sustainable chocolate supply

There is an almost unparalleled satisfaction to popping a square of chocolate in your mouth and letting it dissolve slowly on the tongue. Or licking up the last of a chocolatey summer ice cream. Or savouring a dense, rich, and warm cup of hot chocolate in the winter months. But it could be that we are taking this magical elixir known as chocolate for granted. Hidden from the supermarket shelves where we purchase our everyday chocolate bars, there’s a problem plaguing the chocolate industry that could potentially lead to a shortage in cocoa, the principal ingredient in chocolate making.

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According to a 2015 report by the Cocoa Barometer, a group keeping an eye on sustainability trends in the chocolate industry, the world is running out of cocoa farmers as the current generation is reaching their life expectancy and the next generation is not stepping up to take over a trade that is keeping farmers in poverty. In West Africa, where over  . These problems seemingly need to be addressed at every level of the chocolate value chain, from farmer to manufacturer to distributor and consumer, which means giving voice to the cocoa farmers of the world and working towards a sustainable supply chain is a priority in ensuring the future of chocolate.

 

That’s where Chocothon comes in. An initiative to creating a shared value platform for sustainable Ghanaian cocoa supply chains initiated by Google Food Team and the International Trade Centre (ITC) with knowledge support from Business School Lausanne (BSL) and the Future Food Institute (FFI). Chocothon is comprised of a series of events that will take place over nine months on site in Ghana and through global collaboration. Food and Tech Connect and Food Inspiration Magazine, leading communications the food and tech worlds, are on-board as media partners and corporate representation from Nestle and Barry Callebaut bring industry expertise to the event.

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The decision to target Ghana stems from the fact that Ghana produces over 20% of the world’s cocoa, an estimated 897,000 in the year 2013/2014.  . Ghana has been deemed to have some of the best cocoa quality-wise at a global scale, yet in 2015 the average Ghanaian cocoa farmer earns around just $.84 per day. Cocoa farmers on are at the start of a long line of stakeholders in the chocolate supply chain and the West African farmer is likely to receive as little as just 3.5% to 6.4% of the final value of a chocolate bar, in contrast to a manufacturer share’s share around 70%.

Chocothon will launch its first event from January 16h to 20th and will bring together farmers, international cocoa sources, partner organisations and outside participants in an effort to empower and connect cocoa farmers, assure sustainable supply, and create new opportunities for them and other value chain stakeholders in cocoa production while reducing supply disruption risks. The first mission consists of a hackathon focused on creating innovative tech solutions for a sustainable, international cocoa supply chain; and running in parallel a training done by local beneficiaries to local farmers and companies on sustainable practices applied to the cocoa sector.

Because “true impact” is only achieved through consensus, compromise and cooperation, Chocothon will use measurable goals to Share Knowledge, Empower Producers and Connect Stakeholders. Share Knowledge works to organise crowdsourcing experiences, share technical expertise and build a community around cocoa-themed issues through a series of conferences, workshops and meetings to allow the exchange of ideas. Empower Producers means giving voice to cocoa farmers, building trust along the cocoa supply chain by helping highlight cocoa farmers suitable for sustainable cocoa production, and helping farmers to tackle the problems they face. Connect Stakeholders brings actors together to develop public online and offline tools that can engage and interest Ghanaian young people with technology expertise to develop business-ready tech prototypes and launch start-up.

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At Crowdfooding we are proud to be the supporting platform for Chocothon. It’s a one of a kind project that brings together a unique of knowledge partners from inside and outside the cocoa industry to create concrete impact for an uncertain industry. We are excited to play a role in the project’s development and believe that with Chocothon we can help create breakthrough solutions for a sustainable cocoa future and farmer empowerment through the creation. Both individuals and organisations can help contribute to the Chocothon campaign. Individuals can lend their support through donations or whereas businesses and organisations have the opportunity to contribute either with in-kind or corporate sponsorship.

Says Crowdfooding founder and CEO Alessio D’Antino, “Chocolate is at the edge of extinction and we’re very thrilled to support Chocothon in the endeavour of helping cocoa farmers to leverage technology to better manage their harvesting and improve their quality of work. In line with the open spirit of Chocothon, I strongly believe this project can harness the power of the crowd to empower any individual to do their share to keep enjoying our beloved chocolate.” When such a sweet treat is at the peril of extinction, it’s a clear sign that our current food system is in need of a haul over. Chocothon provides an opportunity to put together a one of a kind platform that will revolutionise the cocoa supply chain, making sure that the global demand is met by a supply chain that is resilient and advantageous for all shareholders, from bean to bar.

Henna Garrison

Henna Garrison

Henna Garrison hails from a small island in the Atlantic ocean, just off the coast of Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of Gastronomic Sciences with a Master’s in Food Culture and Communication, Henna now lives in Bologna, Italy where she happily overindulges in good food and does creative and content writing.
Henna Garrison

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