Cadbury invests in sustainable cocoa production

Chocolate maker Cadbury Schweppes announced on Monday an investment in sustainable cocoa production in Ghana, a move intended to guarantee a long-term supply of the most important ingredient used in its signature bars and candies.

The investment will affect an estimated one million cocoa farmers located primarily in Ghana, but also in India, Indonesia and the Caribbean—all nations where Cadbury sources its cocoa. Ghana is key to the confectioner’s business, and well-known brands using Ghanaian cocoa beans include Cadbury Dairy Milk, Wispa, Flake, Creme Egg and Buttons.

Research by Sussex University in the United Kingdom, funded by the candy maker, has shown that the average production for a cocoa farmer has dropped to only 40% of potential yield and that cocoa farming has become less attractive to the next potential generation of farmers, according to a statement by the company.

The initiative will work to improve cocoa yields and invest in quality-of-life measures, including building schools, libraries and wells, all intended to attract the next generation into cocoa farming.

“In Ghana, there is a phrase ‘Coco obatanpa’, which means ‘Cocoa is a good parent. It looks after you’,” said James Boateng, MD of Cadbury Ghana, in a statement.
“We hope with this initiative, Cadbury and our partners can be a good parent to cocoa.”

In the coming year, Cadbury will invest nearly $2-million as a seed fund to establish the cocoa partnership. By 2010, annual funding levels will rise to $9,9-million yearly.

The candy maker’s investment comes at a time when United States and European companies have faced heavy criticism for their business practices in developing countries. Nike, for example, has invested heavily in community development in the nations where its products are made in a global strategy intended to counteract earlier allegations of worker mistreatment and use of “sweatshop” labour.—Sapa-AP

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