The country can become a bigger force in the global cocoa industry by prioritizing value addition.
This is because around 80 percent of the global cocoa industry’s annual wealth of between US$130billion and US$150billion is generated during secondary processing (cocoa paste manufacturing), which continues to be non-existent in the country.
Intrinsically, with limited processing capacity producers like Ghana receive peanuts from exporting raw cocoa beans. For instance, Ghana and Ivory Coast – which produce 65 percent of the world’s cocoa, earn around a paltry 4 percent of the industry’s wealth of about US$150billion, because the majority of their beans are exported in a raw state.
Against this backdrop, a Principal Public Affairs Officer at Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Benjamin Larweh, has said the only way to change this narrative is to invest in processing capacity.
If done on an industrial scale, he said, value addition carries much higher economic value and could help to transform the entire value chain and the economy at large.
Ghana produces an average of 800,000 tonnes of cocoa beans annually, with a processing capacity of about 40 percent. The domestic industry sector regulator, Ghana Cocoa Board, has meanwhile set a target of 50 percent processing within the next three years – along with plans to promote local cocoa consumption to back it.
“The more value you add to the cocoa, the more income it brings you. For instance, if you are looking at the chocolate industry worldwide we are talking about between US$130 to US$150billion. That is what the chocolate industry gives us every year; but the money that comes to the producers like Ghana which export in raw form is just about 6.6 percent. This explains why government has made it a policy to ensure that we add value to a minimum of 50 percent for the cocoa produced here – whether semi-finished or finished products – for consumption locally and exports to the international market.”
Mr. Larweh disclosed that the campaign for local value addition and consumption saw a 50 percent increase in local consumption, from 0.5 percent in 2017 to 1 percent as at 2022.
He however described this as insignificant, juxtaposing it with consumption levels in non-cocoa producing countries of Europe and the Americas, where consumption is between 7 to 11 percent.
Given that the country spends a significant amount on importing finished cocoa products such as chocolate, beverages and cosmetics, among others, the call to build domestic processing capacity could save the economy millions and at the same time create meaningful jobs along the value chain.
“The board has opened its platform to invite everyone into any kind of cocoa production; such as chocolate, cocoa powder, chocolate drinks and biscuits, among other things, to work hand in hand and help with processing. COCOBOD is keen on this campaign because we want processors to know there is a big market out there for them and also outside the country, so they should be encouraged to invest in the sector,” he said.
Commenting on the National Chocolate Week Celebration held every February as part of efforts to promote domestic consumption, he said the initiative has been a success – creating opportunities for local processors.
He added that the consumption campaign has huge incentives for artisanal chocolatiers to become more competitive and meet market demand.
According to Mr. Larweh, a reconstituted national committee for the promotion of local cocoa consumption will be working aggressively toward creating more market opportunities for local processors in the AfCFTA zone.
He reiterated COCOBOD’s commitment to working with chocolatiers to help boost processing and marketing.
Mr. Larweh believes government’s target of 50 percent processing is attainable, and would give Ghana a strong footing on the world market.