More focus needed to grow Asia’s cocoa industry


Despite the economic challenges brought by COVID-19, the pandemic has also presented new opportunities to Asia's cocoa industry, Marc Donaldson, executive director at the Cocoa Association of Asia (CAA), told Tasty Asia.  Donaldson, who presented a COVID-19 & Outlook for Cocoa Demand at this week’s Saladplate Sourcing Festival, revealed the pandemic had increased consumer focus on health and wellness in the region. Trends include the rising consumption of ‘healthy’ dark chocolates and growing demand for cocoa ingredients used for home baking.
“For the cocoa and chocolate industry, it’s a wonderful thing,” Donaldson said. Asia is currently the second-largest market for cocoa powder in the world, and CAA forecast that the demand would likely increase in the coming years.
Also, home bakers are becoming more aware of better-quality ingredients. This awareness can be a cue to commercial bakeries and pastry shops to maintain the quality of ingredients in their baked goods, to meet consumers’ higher standards. Donaldson noted that the pandemic also impressed the importance of sustainability and origin of food products to consumers.
But while the association is upbeat with the cocoa industry outlook in the region, cocoa bean growers in Asia still faces several challenges, starting with the farmers themselves. Currently, Asia imports 80% of its cocoa beans from West Africa and Latin America. But countries in the region, such as Indonesia, have the potential to produce more cocoa beans, as it is one of the primary producers in this sector.
Donaldson said because cocoa beans require more processing steps before it can become consumable chocolate, farmers lack the focus to cultivate more cocoa beans.
To process cocoa and chocolate correctly, they would need enormous CAPEX and resources. Hence, farmers have no self-interest in the cocoa beans they harvest, said Donaldson. Cocoa beans for them are just an additional source of cash.
Thus, the challenge is to convince farmers of the value of growing cocoa beans and sustain their focus on this undertaking through constant engagement and training by industry stakeholders.
CAA said Asia's young and increasingly growing middle-class population presented significant growth opportunities for the future, with the potential to develop the market into ‘No.2’ globally. Current Asia demand per capita for cocoa and chocolate products is very low compared to Europe or the US. But with chocolate manufacturers now developing bespoke products with affordability, innovation, and sustainability top of mind, the outlook is bright for a strong recovery, the association concluded.(Image from Unsplash)

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post