Cocoa Bean Commodity Chain Project
Extraction of Raw Materials
There are more than five million cocoa bean farmers, located mostly in the Americas, West Africa, and Asia, typically no more than fifteen or twenty degrees from the equator. Since the pulps mature individually, the crop is harvested by the farmers individually, instead of using machinery. Once ready, the pulps are broken open by hand to reveal the beans. The beans must then go through a fermentation process by being placed in boxes or heaps and being covered, thereby draining the pulp from the seeds and changing the color. Once they are ready, the seeds are laid out in the sun to dry. When completed, the beans can now go through an inspection process to ensure no impure beans are sent through to chocolate makes. Those that fail are sent to local markets to be sold or compost. According to MakeChocolateFair.org, an European Campaign for Fair Chocolate, “… many cocoa farmers and workers in the Global South have to get by on less than 1.25 US dollars a day, below the threshold of absolute poverty. Cocoa growers today receive about 6% of the price that consumers in rich countries pay for chocolate. In the 1980s their share was almost three times as great: 16%.” (MakeChocolateFair.org)
Chocolate makers buy bundles of these seeds, and begin the process of making them into chocolate. The beans are roasted to give it the flavor necessary for chocolate. The outer shell is removed, and the inner bean is broken into small bits called “cocoa nibs”. These nibs are then grinded to create a chocolate liquor, or unsweetened chocolate. Sugar and cocoa butter is added to the mixture to produce your standard chocolate. Other additives are added, based on the type of chocolate and the manufacturing plant’s recipe requirements. The chocolate then must be thinned out through a blending process to make sure it is not too dense. Finally, the molding process begins by pouring the liquid into molds and given time to harden. Once cooled, the chocolate is packaged and prepared for shipment and distribution.
Packaging and transporting chocolate is a proven difficult situation. Chocolate has such a low melting point that normal packing devices are insufficient for quality product demands. To ensure the quality of the chocolate, manufacturing companies place their product in refrigerated packages. Typically, shipment companies run into problems if one of their employees forgets to activate the temperature control of the package, and the chocolate melts and becomes a liquid mess. The packages can be transported by most means of transportation (boat/ship, railroad/train, aircraft, or truck/automobile) as long as they are secured in a proper fashion.
In 2009, 7.2 million tons of chocolate was consumed worldwide. This is equivalent to the amount of food thrown away in the United Kingdom in a year. However, one crucial note to make is that not all countries get to enjoy this delicious treat, including some major countries that help produce the beans. 85% of the cocoa beans produced globally come from Western Africa, yet only one country (Mauritania) actually gets to consume the final product. 80% of the world’s final chocolate produce comes from six transnational companies, such as Nestle. A common American misconception is that Hershey is the world’s largest chocolate producer, but the biggest producer is a company called Cadbury, based in the United Kingdom (although Hershey has a license to sell Cadbury treats, Cadbury has their own separate distribution plants).
Purchase / Distribution
In 2014, the total amount of money worldwide used to purchase chocolate was around 100 million US Dollars. In 2012, the number was only 80 million US Dollars. Unfortunately, the profit stays in the country where it is sold, which means the farmers who grow the beans necessary don’t receive nearly as much monetary profit as they should.
In the United Kingdom, there is a new breakout procedure that allows chocolate to become recycled and used as the wrapping for other chocolate products. By utilizing the cocoa husk, in combination with the cocoa beans not selected to be used to create chocolate, a sustainable paper can be created and used, anf even has the extra bonus of not needed any color dyes because of the natural brown color the paper turns out to be. The idea originated from Barry Callebaut, a chocolate manufacturer. The man who made his dream a reality is developer Jamer Cropper. By using cocoa husks and combining it with cellulose fiber from other sustainable crops, the packaging can be created.
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