Welcome to the home of the cocoa bean

Cocoa beans travel a long way before they become chocolate: from the tropical climate of the Equator to Europe, from there to Finland and Fazer’s factory in Vantaa. How do cocoa beans come to be and what is going on during their multi-stage journey?

Ecuador Arriba

Cocoa grows on the equator

Ecuador is a small cocoa producer which stands for around three per cent of the world’s total production. In Ecuador, the origins of cocoa are traceable back to the cultivation area.

Cocoa trees grow in the moist and warm equatorial climate. In addition to the climate, also the quality of the soil and characteristics of the cocoa trees affect the aroma of cocoa beans and, thus, also the taste of ready-made cocoa products.

There are some 5 million cocoa farms in the world. 70 per cent of all cocoa farms are located in West Africa. The biggest cocoa-producing countries are Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria. Three quarters of the cocoa purchased by Fazer comes from West Africa.

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Circa 25%

of the cocoa purchased by Fazer come from Ecuador.

The unique taste of Karl Fazer Milk Chocolate comes from the aroma of the Ecuadorian Arriba cocoa. Arriba is the main ingredient in Karl Fazer Milk Chocolate. In addition to the delicate taste of cocoa, Arriba also contains flower and fruit aromas.

Ghana

Cocoa farms

A typical cocoa farm is family-owned and a few hectares in size. Traditionally, the skills of cocoa farming are passed from generation to generation at work, and many children who have grown up on cocoa farms become cocoa farmers as adults.

Some 720,000 out of a total of 1.8 million West African cocoa farmers come from Ghana. Ghana is the second largest cocoa producer in the world and in West Africa. The total annual production volume is circa one million tonnes.

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Nigeria See details Cocoa farms Cocoa tree Cocoa pod Cocoa bean Drying

Cocoa farms

Cocoa farms are family-owned farms of 2-4 hectares in size, and their maintenance requires skills. For example, trees need to be cut and fertilised, and diseased fruit must be removed. Trees also need to be renewed from time to time.

Nigeria is the third largest cocoa producer in West Africa and it produces 250,000 tonnes of cocoa per year. However, the economical significance of cocoa to the society is not as great as it is in Ivory Coast or Ghana.

3 20%

hectares is the average size of a Nigerian cocoa farm.

of Fazer’s cocoa butter comes from beans processed in Nigeria.

Cocoa farms
Cocoa tree
Cocoa pod
Cocoa bean
Drying

Cocoa grows in the equator in an area which is ideal for the trees: they need sun, warmth and rain. To produce fruit, the cocoa tree requires also high humidity, a shady substrate and nutritious soil. The soil and variety of cocoa affect the aroma of the cocoa fruit, called a cocoa pod and, therefore, the origin of cocoa beans is very important.

Cocoa tree
Cocoa pod
Cocoa bean
Drying
Back to Nigeria

The cocoa tree, which blossoms in moist and warm surroundings, grows naturally in the tropical South America, and cultivated in all countries with a suitable climate. The trees need to be taken care of with care so that they will produce the best possible crop.

Cocoa farms
Cocoa pod
Cocoa bean
Drying
Back to Nigeria

The abundant white flowers and oval-shaped cocoa pods grow right out of the trunk of the cocoa tree. There can be thousands of flowers in one tree. One cocoa tree produces, in average, some 20 to 30 cocoa pods per crop. The colour of cocoa pods can vary from yellow to a dark violet shade of red. They are piled up and then cut open.

Cocoa farms
Cocoa tree
Cocoa bean
Drying
Back to Nigeria

One cocoa pod contains, depending on variety, 25 to 50 seeds, usually called beans. In order to keep the beans intact, the pods are carefully opened using wooden sticks, and the beans are removed manually. Beans are gathered in large piles or boxes and covered with, for example, banana leaves.

Cocoa farms
Cocoa tree
Cocoa pod
Drying
Back to Nigeria

The beans rest under cover for 3 to 5 days. This stage is called fermenting. During the fermenting process, the sugary pulp dries up and the only thing left are the moist beans. During fermenting, their colour turns darker as well. Fermenting is an important stage in the treatment of beans because it is the first step in forming the aroma of cocoa. After fermenting, cocoa beans are dried usually out in the sun. 400 beans, or ten cocoa pods, are needed to produce one 200-gram Fazer chocolate bar.

Cocoa farms
Cocoa tree
Cocoa pod
Cocoa bean
Back to Nigeria
Ivory Coast
Biéby, Ivory Coast

Fazer is building a school in sponsor village Biéby

Fazer raised funds together with chocolate lovers to build the first secondary school in Biéby.  The construction project was carried out in co-operation with World Cocoa Foundation. Construction began in September 2012 and the school opened its doors in 2013.

The school also has a small cocoa farm where pupils are taught how to plant cocoa seeds, grow seedlings and take care of the trees.

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Cocoa travels to Europe by sea

The dried cocoa beans are transported in jute bags from farms to villages and from there, to larger centres. Then they are shipped by truck to ports. Part of the beans is shipped on board freight vessels to Europe and part is processed in the country of origin. At the moment, most cocoa products purchased by Fazer are processed in Europe. Fazer purchases Arriba cocoa mass directly from Ecuador and cocoa butter from Nigeria.

Processing cocoa

Before chocolate can be made out of cocoa beans, they pass through several processing stages. Cocoa beans purchased by Fazer are processed in European, but also in Nigerian and Ecuadorian plants into ready-made cocoa products: cocoa mass, cocoa powder and cocoa butter.

First, the quality of cocoa beans is checked. Processing begins with a multi-stage cleansing operation to remove all foreign particles. After cleaning, beans are roasted in a temperature which is high enough to guarantee their microbiological safety. The pleasant chocolate-like aroma emerges during the roasting.

From bean to
cocoa mass

After roasting, cocoa beans are ground into cocoa mass. To get cocoa butter or cocoa powder from cocoa mass, the mass is squeezed through a powerful mechanical press, which separates the cocoa butter and leaves a block of cocoa solid material. The block is ground down to make cocoa powder.

Processing cocoa in countries of origin

Fazer finds processing the raw material in countries of origin a good alternative. Local factories are modern and they have quality and safety regulations similar to those in European factories. Since conditions in West Africa have become stable, most European companies have started to invest in local production plants. Production quality standards have become a common language for European and African producers.

It is important for Fazer to find suitable partners and become acquainted with their ways of working and, thus, build mutual trust with actors in countries of origin.

Fazer develops the traceability of cocoa

Fazer is committed to developing traceability in the supply chain of cocoa by increasing the amount of responsibly produced cocoa every year. Fazer’s objective is to use only traceable cocoa that fills the requirements for responsible cocoa sourcing by 2017. Fazer takes active part in developing the conditions of cocoa-farming communities in countries of origin in co-operation with the World Cocoa Foundation.

Why is traceability important?

When we know where our cocoa comes from, we can be sure that conditions in the primary production are in order. It is important that traceability is developed in co-operation by the entire industry because that is the only way to monitor cultivating conditions in countries of origin.

Responsible cocoa sourcing at Fazer is based on improving traceability and following the principles of the World Cocoa Foundation: People, Profit, and Planet.

How is responsible farming promoted?

Fazer works systematically to increase the sourcing of responsibly produced cocoa by 10 to 15 per cent each year.

Fazer purchased UZT certified cocoa for the first time in 2010. This certification system controls that the cocoa is responsibly produced.  Fazer buys traceable cocoa, for example, through Source Trust. Traceability is developed in co-operation with several suppliers. In addition, Fazer has been part of starting European co-operation to create a common EU standard for responsible and traceable cocoa. The best way to promote responsible farming is to work together with the World Cocoa Foundation and other international actors in the cocoa and chocolate industry.

What are the challenges of traceability?

The traceability of cocoa raw material varies depending on practices in producer countries.  In many producer countries, such as African countries, cocoa raw material is traceable up to the point when the cocoa beans arrive at the port. In the port, beans are unloaded from the bags, and beans produced by different producers are combined and loaded as bulk goods into the ship’s hold to be transported to Europe. European production plants process the beans.

Beans can also be loaded into the ship in the jute bags, which protects them against contamination, and at the same time the information of origin is carried along. Logistically, however, this is not very efficient, which is why bulk carriers are usually used for transportation. For the quality and traceability of the raw material, it would be best to process the beans as fresh as possible in the country of origin. Finished cocoa products are not contaminated as easily during transportation and storage, and the detailed information of origin would not be lost during processing. In this way, the value added would remain in the country of origin, which would be desirable.