Barry Callebaut, the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate, has recognized five farmer cooperatives in the Bas-Sassandra region of Côte d'Ivoire as the top producers of superior quality cocoa beans using Barry Callebaut's advanced fermentation technique. By applying the patented technique, farmers can produce cocoa beans with no defects or off-flavors in significantly less time than by conventional fermentation methods. The beans are fully traceable to the respective grower's farm.
Over the two-year period from 2010/11 to 2011/12, the participating farmers continually expanded their use of the technique, and today more than half of the cocoa supplied by the cooperatives is produced using Barry Callebaut's advanced fermentation method. The cooperatives are paid a premium for this superior quality cocoa compared to average prices for conventionally fermented cocoa.
The achievements of the cooperatives were celebrated at a ceremony and community festival, sponsored by Barry Callebaut, in Bas-Sassandra in March 2012. Speakers included representatives from the regional Department of Agriculture, the national rural development agency ANADER, and local government.
"The cooperatives are doing an outstanding job and showing significant year-on-year improvements," said Nicholas Camu, Group Manager Cocoa Horizons at Barry Callebaut. "Farmers are highly motivated to use the technique when they see with their own eyes the superior quality of the cocoa fermented in this manner. Seeing really is believing." The company estimates the volume of beans produced with its fermentation method to double in 2012/13.
All five cooperatives are members of Barry Callebaut's flagship sustainability program in Côte d'Ivoire - Quality Partner Program (QPP) - launched in 2005. The cooperatives enrolled two years ago in what started as a research trial by the company's global Research & Development (R&D) department to assess the impact of using its advanced technique to control the cocoa fermentation process.
With the successful adoption of the fermentation technique by farmers in the field and increased interest from cooperatives, Barry Callebaut expanded its Controlled Fermentation programs in Côte d'Ivoire and launched new programs in Cameroon and Indonesia as part of its recently announced Cocoa Horizons global sustainability initiative. The company will invest CHF 40 million over 10 years to boost farm productivity, increase quality and improve family livelihoods in key cocoa producing countries in West and Central Africa as well as in Indonesia and Brazil.
In keeping with its goal to transfer successful research results into innovative products, Barry Callebaut in 2011 launched Terra Cacao chocolate made from "zero-defect beans" from Côte d'Ivoire. Terra Cacao is produced using the company's advanced fermentation technique, and has won several innovation awards.