Two-hundred senior business leaders from around the world and other key stakeholders in the cocoa, chocolate and retail industry met in Davos this week to discuss issues facing the cocoa and chocolate industry going forward, as well as accomplishments made so far. The conference was held under the theme "Balance the Challenge: From cocoa to chocolate - strategy, sustainability and success" and drew top industry executives, government representatives from origin countries in West Africa and Malaysia, NGOs and certification bodies as well as two illustrious keynote speakers.
"It's great to see the most senior leaders from the entire industry come together to discuss solutions for the challenges we all face," said Barry Callebaut CEO Juergen Steinemann in his closing remarks. "Though we are aware of the work we still have to do, we know that none of us can do it alone. The chain has become too complex for any one of us to master individually. All stakeholders must work together in order to secure a sustainable cocoa supply well into the future. So besides looking at the many opportunities, we took the initiative to talk about solutions for some of the most pressing challenges including: changing consumer needs and behavior, new chocolate consumption markets, rising demand for chocolate-based products, supply constraints as well as a lack of sustainability in the cocoa sector."
Rock musician and activist Sir Bob Geldof and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mohammed Yunus inspired participants with remarkable keynote speeches emphasizing progress, especially in poverty-stricken regions of West Africa and South Asia, where smallholder farmers produce much of the world's cocoa. "The biggest challenges in the world today can only be overcome when the big players - governments, corporations and NGO's - find a way to work together strategically," Sir Bob Geldof said in his speech.
At the end of the three-day conference, William Guyton, President of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), announced the establishment of the WCF Senior Leaders Council - a global platform that aims to provide strategic input for the stakeholders along the supply chain on solutions leading to a cocoa production that is economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sound.
"I learned a great deal these past few days, and I believe a lot of important connections were made here in Davos," Steinemann added. "These conversations will continue long after CHOCOVISION 2012 is history - and we begin to plan for the next conference in two years' time."
Barry Callebaut initiated and organized the event, which was held for the first time. The next CHOCOVISION conference is scheduled for 2014.