The price of sustainable cocoa is debated at the World Conference in Brussels

The price of sustainable cocoa is debated at the World Conference in Brussels
The price of sustainable cocoa is debated at the World Conference in Brussels

Planters, traders, manufacturers and distributors are gathered from April 21 to 24 in Brussels for the fifth World Cocoa Conference. The meeting is being held in an unprecedented context, marked by prices which have reached historic records, and as new binding European regulations for cocoa producers are due to come into force at the end of December, to combat deforestation.

Pay more for sustainable cocoa. » By choosing this title, the International Cocoa Organization (Icco) set the tone, even if it meant depriving itself of certain sponsors for this fifth world conference.

Aside from the Mars group, multinationals did not respond to his call. One of them unofficially made the organizers understand that it was not possible to rally behind such a slogan, when others ended up agreeing to finance at a minimum the conference, under the condition of not appearing. A positioning that says a lot about the difficulties of the cocoa majors in publicly committing to paying farmers more.

Planters supported by the Queen of the Belgians

Despite these not very encouraging signals, talking about prices is much less taboo than a few years ago, experts agree. Some actors present in Brussels want to believe that a shift is taking shape, and are clinging to the speech of the Queen of the Belgians, Mathilde, who opened the Conference on Monday April 22, by insisting on the moral necessity to act, in the face of a ” distribution of value so unequal » in the cocoa-chocolate sector.

This speech was welcomed by all, but the unanimity expressed very quickly cracks when it comes to knowing how to better distribute the cost of more sustainable cocoa between the links in the chain, in other words when it comes to find out who will pay for a more respectable bean, which does not cause deforestation, and which allows the planter to live decently while sending his children to school.

“Someone will have to pay”

The reality is today that no one wants to share their margin », noted with bitterness Michel Arrion, executive director of Icco in Brussels, and ultimately, “ few consumers are ready to pay more », according to Philippe de Selliers, president of Choprabisco, the Royal Belgian Association of Chocolate Industries.

However, the cocoa farmer, the link which achieves the smallest margin according to the design office The Basic, cannot bear the costs of the traceability required today by the new European regulations, once again recalled the Ivory Coast, the world’s leading supplier of beans, which calls for the responsibility of the cocoa industry.

In this great game of ping-pong, everyone must take responsibility, according to the International Cocoa Organization, including producing states and Europe, as an importing market, ” because at the end of the day, someone will have to pay”.

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