Cocoa trees thrive in an equatorial climate. Beyond climate, soil quality, tree features, and fermentation influence the scent and taste of cocoa beans.
There are 5 million cocoa farms worldwide. 70% of cocoa fields are in West Africa. Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria are the top cocoa producers. Fazer buys three-quarters of its cocoa from West Africa. Ecuador produces about 3% of the world’s cocoa. In Ecuador, we can trace the origins of cocoa to the farm.
Cocoa farms are often small, and family owned. Many who grew up on cocoa farms become chocolate growers.
Ivory Coast produces around 1.4 million tonnes of cocoa per year. It is the world’s largest cocoa producer, and its share of the world’s total produce is over 40 per cent. Nearly 70 per cent of the population get their income, totally or partly, from cocoa cultivation or livelihoods, which are closely related to cocoa.
Jute bags convey dried cocoa beans from fields to communities and larger cities. Then they are trucked to ports. Part of the beans is exported to Europe through freighters and processed locally. Currently, Fazer’s cocoa purchases are mostly processed in Europe. Fazer imports Arriba cocoa mass and cocoa butter from Ecuador and Nigeria.
Cocoa beans are processed numerous times before being used to make chocolate. Fazer’s cocoa beans are processed in European, Nigerian, and Ecuadorian plants into ready-made cocoa products: cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter.
First, the cocoa pods are opened, and the cocoa “seeds” are fermented into beans. Once those beans are fried, they are then graded. A multi-stage cleaning procedure removes all foreign particles. After cleaning, beans are roasted at a high enough temperature to ensure microbiological safety. During roasting, a chocolate-like scent arises.
From bean to cocoa mass
Chocolate is made from roasted cocoa beans. A powerful mechanical press separates the cocoa butter from the cocoa mass, leaving a block of cocoa solid substance. The block is powdered to make cocoa.
Processing cocoa in countries of origin
Fazer favours processing raw materials in their countries of origin. Local factories are modern and follow European quality and safety standards. Since conditions in West Africa have improved, most European firms have begun investing in the local industry. European and African producers now speak the same language.
Finding acceptable partners, learning their working methods, and building confidence with players in origin nations is critical for Fazer.
Fazer is committed to increasing the amount of responsibly produced cocoa each year. Fazer wants to utilise solely traceable cocoa that meets ethical sourcing standards. The World Cocoa Foundation and Fazer work together to improve circumstances for cocoa farmers in their home countries.