Reflections from the World Cocoa Conference 2024: “Paying More for a Sustainable Cocoa”

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Sunbeth Global Concepts Wcc 2024 Site

The recently concluded World Cocoa Conference 2024 in Belgium, themed “Paying More for a Sustainable Cocoa,” was an eventful four-days of intensive discussions on the future of the cocoa industry. The focus was clear: ensuring more equitable and sustainable production of cocoa, particularly by paying higher prices at the farmgate level. This emphasis on fair compensation for cocoa farmers is essential for promoting a living income and supporting the long-term sustainability of the industry.

On Monday 22nd of April 2024, Her Majesty, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians was present during the opening session and emphasized the importance of social, environmental, and economic sustainability across the cocoa supply chain. As an official gold sponsor, Sunbeth was represented by our Managing Director, Olasunkanmi Owoyemi, alongside Ibukun Opeke, Corporate Finance Analyst, and Modupe Ojo, Corporate Strategy Analyst. Sunbeth also sponsored some of our local buying agents to the conference to give them access to first-hand knowledge of the critical conversations surrounding the industry.

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L – R Siriki Diakite, Sustainability Expert, Modupe Ojo, Corporate Strategy Analyst, Olasunkanmi Owoyemi, Managing Director, and Ibukun Opeke, Corporate Finance Analyst. Sunbeth’s Representatives At the WCC 2024

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L-R GLOBAL LOKO AGRO ALLIED VENTURES.. CHAIRMAN COCOA ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA CROSS RIVER CHAPTER.. JIOLAS INTEGRATED SERVICE(OLASUNKANMI SUNDAY).. EB RAPHLAK LTD(OLAKANMI OLADELE).. FATAI APE.. FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF COCOA ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA

The World Cocoa Conference 2024 offered exceptional networking opportunities with stakeholders across the cocoa value chain, including farmers, cooperatives, cocoa and chocolate multinationals, industrialists, and representatives from financial institutions, NGOs, and research organizations. These interactions further fostered collaboration and a deeper understanding of each stakeholder’s role in shaping a sustainable cocoa industry.

As an exhibitor, Sunbeth’s stand provided an excellent platform to showcase our product offerings and discuss our efforts toward compliance with European Union Deforestation-Free Regulations, which comes into effect on December 30, 2024. The EUDR requires EU companies to ensure that products such as cocoa placed on the EU market do not contribute to deforestation or illegal production and we extensively discussed our steps towards commitment with visitors to our stand. By extension, companies such as Sunbeth in the supply clain of these EU operators are expected to therefore support their compliance efforts. We therefore spoke extensively with visitors to our stand on our compliance efforts focusing on data collection, risk assessment and risk mitigation.

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Sunbeth’s Representative Responding to Visitors to Our Stand at the WCC

The conference featured 13 panel sessions exploring a range of topics such as cocoa policies, farmer income, social responsibility, and importance of strengthening global partnerships. One of such panels was also on supply management, with our MD, Olasunkanmi Owoyemi, as a lead panelist alongside other experts such as Victor Iyama of FACAN, Emmanuel Opoku of Ghana Cocoa Board and Merlyn Casanova of National Association of Cocoa Exporter of Ecuador.

The MD in his lead panel brief explored the current multifaceted causes of cocoa supply deficit and its attendant effects on prices. Some of the causes he highlighted included the low farmgate prices paid to farmers which made it difficult or near impossible for farmers who have been paid too little for too long to invest in their farm thereby affecting yields. Other issues also include diseases such as swollen shoot disease, ageing trees, youth non-involvement stressing that smallholder farmers are currently well advanced in age and the low level of interest from several young people in the sector continues to cast a shadow of doubt over the current level of production and even the future supply. Against this background, the MD stressed that even though the current supply deficit was not due to deliberate actions, the panel discussions focused on whether or not producer countries should consider the effect on price a motivation to consider introducing supply management policies to gain more control on cocoa price. He introduced different supply management policies, including buffer stocks, production quotas, and export restrictions. These measures aim to stabilize markets and ensure fair returns for producers. However, he admitted that implementation challenges include variations in administrative, political, and commercial structures across producing countries and tailored approaches are necessary to adapt these policies to diverse market contexts. Other panelists also gave insightful contributions from different contexts on the challenges with supply management policies.

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Panel Session Featuring Sunbeth’s MD Olasunkanmi Owoyemi

Throughout the World Cocoa Conference 2024, one thing was evident: stakeholders were unanimous on the importance of decent work and fair wages for sustainable cocoa production. Enhanced collaboration among all parties was also stressed as an essential factor to drive equitable value distribution across the supply chain. No doubt, the conversations at the conference reinforced the need for action to ensure that our love for chocolate and other cocoa products does not negatively impact the people at the tail end of the value chain or the planet we all cherish. It was a privilege to engage in these insightful discussions and to reflect on Sunbeth’s commitment to people and planet.

As we continue to leverage our strategic position, Sunbeth remains dedicated to partnering with all stakeholders to ensure value is evenly distributed without causing harm to the environment. Together, we can build a more sustainable and equitable future for the cocoa industry.

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