According to the organiser of chocolate festival and cocoa conference, Chocoa, the chocolate industry as a whole needs to look beyond solely cocoa in order to prevent another huge drop in cocoa prices.
Jack Steijn, the co-founder of Equipoise – a consultancy firm – and the organiser of Chocoa, has urged the industry to work with other sectors in order to provide crop diversification packages for farmers that are beyond current productivity initiatives.
“In my view, diversification is the best long-term solution to the low prices – supporting the farmer so he can become an entrepreneur that is less dependent on cocoa,“ Steijn said.
Back in 2014, Steijn founded Equipoise, a sustainable commodities consultancy, while he is also the chair of ISO and CEN committees on Sustainable and Traceable Cocoa, in addition to being director of Chocoa, a chocolate and cocoa event.
Steijn believes that farmers could double their productivity if they apply good agricultural practices that are part of most voluntary certification programs, however, he also said this risks saturating the market with cocoa.
“It would be better for them [farmers] to reduce the surface available for cocoa and diversify into other cash crops,” he said. “Oversupply will kill prices even more than today. This way, farmers reduce their dependence on cocoa and improve the resilience of their income”.