02 November 2021, Netherlands: Cargill has completed a $100 million expansion of its cocoa processing facilities in Yopougon, Côte d’Ivoire, a move that adds significant volumes to the company’s cocoa-grinding capacity. With this investment, the Yopougon facility is now the single largest cocoa-grinding plant in Africa.
The upgrades, which also included infrastructure enhancements and safety improvements, increased production capacity at the site by 50 percent, creating nearly 100 full-time, local jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs. Importantly, a significant share of the plant’s additional processing capacity will supply high demand, dark brown cocoa powders.
“Consumers, especially in Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African markets, are increasingly drawn to bakery and confectionery products with the strong, chocolatey visual appeal made possible by rich, deep brown cocoa powders,” said Niels Boetje, Cocoa managing director for Cargill’s Cocoa & Chocolate business. “With the new technology installed at our Yopougon plant, we’re now better equipped to supply the full range of our customers’ needs, from delicate light to intensely dark Gerkens® cocoa powders.”
While the Yopougon expansion was driven by unprecedented demand for Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate products, it also supports the company’s larger vision to transform the cocoa sector. As Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate explained, “This investment will serve as a catalyst for the establishment of a broader, local agri-food industry, as we shift a greater share of our global grinding activities to the countries of origin.”
By partnering with governments and other key stakeholders in West Africa, Poelma said Cargill aims to drive economic growth in cocoa-origin countries through the company’s cocoa-processing operations, sustainability activities and other collaborations. The Cargill Cocoa Promise, which is the company’s commitment to improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities while growing cocoa sustainably, helps support this wider goal.
As part of that commitment, Cargill will invest $13 million over the next year in expanded and new programing to create stronger, more resilient cocoa-farming communities in Côte d’Ivoire. This includes nearly $6 million to support farmer coaching and training efforts, alongside an additional $3.5 million aimed at expanding traceability projects in the world’s top cocoa-producing nation.
These efforts will include work to increase financial traceability to cocoa farmers in Cargill’s direct supply chain. To date, Cargill has linked more than 20,000 West African farmers to banks and mobile network operators. In the coming years, the company aims to connect 140,000 more cocoa producers to financial institutions, enabling direct, digital payments.
This information is fed into Cargill’s CocoaWise™ digital platform, making it possible to track in full detail how premium payments made by customers for sustainable-verified cocoa and direct sustainability projects are distributed and invested. Other aspects of traceability, including physical cocoa bean traceability using electronic tracking and impact transparency are also part of the CocoaWise platform.
Cargill’s activities in Côte d’Ivoire span more than two decades, including the opening of the Yopougon plant in 2000. Today, the newly upgraded facility produces cocoa powder, cocoa butter, liquid cocoa liquor and solid cocoa liquor, high-quality ingredients that are exported around the world.