ITC brings chocolate makers to world’s biggest organic food fair
ITC's Alliances for Action partners exhibited at Biofach 2023 to build commercial spaces for its global cocoa and chocolate network.
The market for organic food and beverages is expected to grow by 13% a year until 2030. The organic cocoa market alone is expected to reach $942.6 million by 2028.
Consumers increasingly understand the associated health benefits, while global governance is focusing on products that are good for both people and planet.
CLAC-Fairtrade supports small farmers and processors across Latin America and the Caribbean. Its network produces a diverse range of Fairtrade-certified agricultural products. They also attended the German fair.
“Biofach has given me fundamental knowledge to help redesign the most sustainable commercial roadmap for our various small fairtrade sugar cooperatives in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Gilbert Ramirez, one of CLAC’s representatives.
Gilbert was one six participants who attended the organic trade fair with ITC’s Alliances for Action initiative, under its ACP Business-Friendly and Netherlands Trust Fund V programmes. They presented their organic cocoa and chocolates, honing their niche market strategies.
Bringing cocoa origins to consumer crowds
ITC-Alliances for Action selected members of its producer community for this event, and gave them guidance on how to prepare. Its stand was dedicated to organic-certified cocoa, semifinished products and chocolate. Fairafric Ghana and Plot attended from Ghana, while Conacado and Cacao Florencio Ortega came from the Dominican Republic.
CLAC-Fairtrade also represented Fairtrade-certified farmer cooperatives. The stand quickly became a meeting point for members of the Fairtrade system, buyers, and the cocoa industry.
What set the stand apart was the presence of the producers themselves, who drew in customers with their personal insights. Biofach participants tend to be big on the farm to fork (or in this case, bean to bar) approach, so to be able to ask producers and processors from origin about their practices and products was a huge bonus.
“This programme helps us to target our sustainable products to the international market. At Biofach, we were able to tap into the organic niche segment”, said Ignatius Amoah from Plot, a woman-owned cocoa processor from Ghana.
Participating enterprises didn’t shy away from sharing details about their process: from cocoa fermentation for high quality chocolate, to alkalized cocoa powder, and transparency regarding their organic certification operations, stand visitors were not disappointed.
Chocolate tastings of fine products shipped directly from the Caribbean and Ghana completed the experience.
Dynamic networking pays off!
Everyone on the stand planned well in advance to meet up with their existing buyers in person – always a good strategy to strengthen relationships.
“We found it to be an event with a good balance between a general public and organic chocolate segment stakeholders. We had the opportunity to establish new contacts and hold meetings with existing clients,” said Abel Fernandez from Conacado Agroindustrial, the largest organic cocoa exporter in the Dominican Republic.
Making new distributor and buyer connections was the icing on the cake.
Fairafric Ghana already enjoys good visibility in Germany. Biofach allowed them to expand their contacts in the EU and to connect with other suppliers to improve their products. One takeaway they gleaned was leveraging coconut sugar for new product ranges.
Plot Ghana went home with over 50 new commercial contacts in their database, and CLAC made the most of the consumer-facing stage to spotlight its producer network and the importance of fair trade.
For some, it was a milestone first experience. Cacao Florencio Ortega learned the ropes of networking and setting up a successful stand, and secured new potential buyers from Sweden, Italy and Belgium.
About the projects
The ACP Business-Friendly programme is funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and jointly implemented by ITC’s Alliances for Action, the World Bank and UNIDO. It seeks to improve the ability of agribusiness firms in ACP countries to compete, grow and prosper in domestic, regional and international markets. Through the Alliances for Action approach, it promotes inclusive and sustainable agricultural value chains that value all stakeholders from farm to shelf.
The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and the International Trade Centre. The programme supports MSMEs in the digital technologies through its EcomConnect programme and agribusiness sectors through its Alliances for Action programme. Its ambition is two-fold: to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of food systems, partially through digital solutions, and drive the internationalisation of tech start-ups and export of IT&BPO companies in selected Sub-Saharan African countries.