Northwest Africa produces over 70% of the world’s cocoa. The main exporters are Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. According to information from the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), 90 percent of this cocoa is grown on small family plantations that have been passed down from generation to generation. Most of the workers on these plantations have never actually tried the chocolate that is available practically everywhere food is sold in Europe.
Karina Budinskaya, Head of the AsstrA Benelux & UK Division, describes how cocoa travels to the factories that use it to produce some of the world’s favorite desserts.
Karina, how does cocoa start its journey?
Cocoa is delivered by ships from Africa to European ports. After transshipment, trucks deliver the raw materials across the Old Continent.
The term “cocoa” covers two groups of products: cocoa beans and cocoa products. AsstrA usually organizes the transportation of these raw beans from cocoa trees. It is a “sensitive” product that is transported in linen bags that ensure the free circulation of CO2 but don’t provide 100 per cent protection from external factors.
These beans are hygroscopic, i.e. they easily absorb moisture and odors. Additionally, they have a tendency to self-heat, are susceptible to rot and mold, and can self-dissolve under the influence of their own hydrolytic enzymes in a process called autolysis. For these reasons, cocoa transportation is regulated by international agreements.
What are the requirements for cocoa transportation?
Like every food product, cocoa must be transported in clean, dry vehicles. Moisture levels should not exceed 7%. Considering the hydroscopicity of cocoa fruits, the absence of foreign odors during transportation is important. Cocoa beans and powder are delivered in standard tents, while cocoa butter is delivered in refrigerators.
To ensure packaging integrity and protect against moisture, cocoa beans are reloaded without the use of loading and unloading equipment. In bad weather conditions, there are special loading and unloading procedures to protect against precipitation and prevent mold and rot. AsstrA experts oversee each transport stage to make sure Clients receive prompt and uninterrupted service.
Where does the cocoa usually go?
Traditionally, EU and CIS countries are the main cocoa importers. Cocoa trade lanes popular with AsstrA Customers are Belgium-Russia and Belgium-Poland.
In recent years, however, statistics indicate that Asians are steadily consuming larger amounts of cocoa in chocolate products and desserts. Five years ago, this region had the world’s lowest per capita consumption of cocoa products. Key industry players have already identified this emerging market.
Every day, AsstrA experts constantly work to expand our network of cocoa delivery routes so that consumers in every corner of the globe can enjoy chocolatey treats previously available only to royal families.