About 100 workers at the country’s biggest cocoa processor, Cocoa Processing Company (CPC), have been asked to proceed on their annual leave “until further notice” due to a temporary shutdown of its two cocoa processing plants.
The workers are mainly stationed at CPC’s Cocoa House, where raw beans are processed into semi-finished products. Kingsley Owusu, CPC’s local union chairman, confirming the development explained that Cocoa House comprises about 90 percent of the company’s workforce: “That is where we get our main money from”.
He said the workers have been asked to go home because CPC is broke and cannot buy beans for processing, even though it is listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange.
Management has therefore directed that all staff of the company should stay at home as part of their annual leave with effect from January 25, 2016, while the factory remains shut down. This was contained is a circular dated January 25, 2016, addressed to members of staff. “Due to operational challenges, management has decided to temporarily shut down the two Cocoa Factories from Monday 25th January 2016 until further notice. “Management has therefore decided that staff of the Cocoa Factories should stay at home as part of their annual leave with effect from 25th January 2016, while the factories remain on shut-down,” a memo addressed to staff members revealed.
Meanwhile, managers of the CPC have rejected reports that their processing plants in Tema have been shut down because of a lack of cocoa beans.
Public Relations Officer Ekow Rhule explained that the shutdown of two of its three plants is to allow for routine maintenance works — adding that the chocolate factory is working but the factory for semi-finished products has been shut down.
Established in 1965, the CPC comprises three factories: two Cocoa Factories and a Confectionery Factory. Cocoa Processing Company Limited is a limited liability company incorporated in Ghana on November 30, 1981. The shares of the company are publicly traded on the Ghana Stock Exchange. The Cocoa factories have an annual throughput of 64,500 metric tonnes of Premium Ghana Cocoa beans, which it processes into Cocoa Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Cake and Cocoa Powder. These semi-finished products are the major ingredients for the production of chocolate and other cocoa-based food products. The semi-finished products are sold under the Portem brand name to foreign markets. The company, however, retains a portion of the semi-finished products for use in the Confectionery Factory.
The Confectionery Factory manufactures chocolate confectionery: namely chocolate bars, chocolate spread, drinking chocolate and chocolate dragees. The confectionery products are marketed under the brand name Golden Tree.
In February 2015, the CPC halted its productions for at least two days every week due to the persistent power outage.
“Whenever there is a power cut we stop production, production halts! When the factory is off for about two days, it means stopping production for two days.
“A factory like CPC cannot be run on generators since cost of diesel to power a generator for its operations is unthinkable,” said Nana Oduro Owusu, the then-Managing Director of the company said.
The issue of shut down is not new to the company. In the 2011/2012 operational year, the company shut down for a while due to interruptions in water and electricity supply, which it said continues to pose huge challenges for its operations.