Top 10 cocoa producing countries
Whether you’re a self confessed chocoholic, or you enjoy a delicious bite as a treat once in awhile, chocolate plays a huge part in our lives. Chocolate is big business and in 2016 it was estimated that the global chocolate market was worth a staggering $98.3 billion. All over the world, countries are producing crops of cocoa beans to ensure there’s enough for our growing demand! Our sweet tooths are now a serious business and here at Andrew James we’ve put together a list of the top 10 chocolate producing countries across the globe.
10 | Dominican Republic - 68,021 tonnes
The Dominican Republic is a world leader in chocolate, leading the charge for environmentally sustainable production. Their ethical approach to producing chocolate is strengthened by being a ‘Fairtrade Certified’ country, producing products that have been checked by global trade organisations to make sure farmers receive appropriate compensation for their crops. The Dominican Republic creates two very distinct types of cocoa, the buttery Sanchez beans and the drier Hispaniola bean.
9 | Peru - 71,175 tonnes
The competition for agricultural land in Peru is fierce, which has limited the cocoa bean’s growth capacity in the region. Cocoa farmers also have to compete with the coca bean for growing space, this is the bean that produces cocaine and one that fetches (unsurprisingly!) a much higher price. In 2007, chocolate manufacturers recognised the quality of the Peruvian cocoa bean. Farmers were offered better prices for their crops thanks to Fairtrade growers and growing appreciation for organic cocoa by-products. The demand for Peruvian beans has ensured that the country remains one of the world’s top producers.
8 | Mexico - 82,000 tonnes
It’s said that the world’s first chocoholics were the Maya of southeast Mexico, who discovered the health benefits and the incomparable taste almost three thousand years ago! Although Mexico is still one of the world’s largest cocoa bean producers, production has fallen around 50 percent since the 2000s. Frosty pod rot has devastated Mexico’s cocoa production, resulting in the Central American country importing more cocoa than it exports. Today, Mexico is fighting back with new hybrid plants that are showing resistance to the disease.
7 | Ecuador - 128,446 tonnes
Ecuador may not produce the most chocolate in the world, but experts argue that what they do produce is the world’s best. Ecuador's farmers call their cocoa beans ‘Black Gold’ and the rich chocolate paste extracted from the bean is one of the country’s key claims to fame. Archeologists believe that Ecuador is the original home of the cocoa bean, with traces of cocoa found in ceramic pottery dating to 3,300 BC.
6 | Brazil - 256,186 tonnes
Brazil produce over 250,000 tonnes of chocolate each year, however as a nation of chocolate lovers - it’s fair to say a lot of it stays at home! According to the Brazilian Association of Chocolate Industry, 75 percent of Brazil’s population consume chocolate, with 35 percent choosing it over any other food or drink. Brazil’s cocoa production is based on sustainability and characterized by low emission greenhouse gases and family farm production. The type of chocolate produced in Brazil also varies due to the difference in temperatures across the Northern and Southern regions. Consequently, the chocolate has both a different taste and composition depending on where it is produced.
5 | Cameroon - 275,000 tonnes
We travel over to West Africa to meet the fifth largest chocolate producing country, Cameroon. Over the last few years’ great strides have been taken in Cameroon to make the cocoa farming industry more sustainable. In 2016, over 9500 cocoa farmers in Cameroon received over $1.4 million in certification premium payments for sustainable cocoa in the country. These payments reflect the appreciation for the efforts of cocoa farmers who have worked to become more professional and achieve certification for their work.
4 | Nigeria - 367,000 tonnes
Although Nigeria is the fourth largest chocolate producer in the world, their industry is actually in decline. This is mainly due to the fact that cocoa farms in Nigeria are very old, as are the farmers that are cultivating the crops. Calls to restructure the cocoa industry in order to attract younger farmers and graduates will hopefully revitalise this once lucrative Nigerian venture. The Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN) mission is to rebrand and reposition cocoa farming as an ‘occupation of choice’ for farmers and for Nigeria to become the largest African cocoa producer by 2020.
3 | Indonesia - 777,500 tonnes
Indonesia is relatively new to cocoa production, stepping into the game in the early 1980’s and becoming a dominant force in the industry. Although production has increased over the years, disease prone trees have thwarted their chocolate producing efforts. The ‘pod bearer insect’ has damaged many of the country’s cocoa farms, resulting in poor roots and a poor quality cocoa bean. Many of the beans produced by Indonesia have to be blended with imported beans to create cocoa powder. This is due to the farmers need to gain cash for their crops, rather than wait for their poor quality beans to properly ferment.
2 | Ghana - 835,466 tonnes
Ghana first started producing cocoa in the mid-19th century and is now responsible for over 20 percent of the world’s cocoa. The industry has been revolutionised over the last 20 years. Once owned by the Ghana Cocoa Board, farmers decided to launch their own chocolate brand in 1997, backed by The Body Shop. ‘Divine Fairtrade’ chocolate is part owned by the cocoa farmers organisation ‘Kuapa Kokoo’ and ensures that all cocoa farmers received a Fairtrade bonus and a share of company profits.
1 | Côte d’Ivoire - 1,448,992 tonnes
In 2014, an Ivory Coast farmer made headlines when a video of him tasting a chocolate bar went viral. Although he had been a cocoa farmer his entire life, he had never actually tasted the finished product. The Ivory Coast is responsible for 30 percent of the world’s cocoa, supplying companies like Nestle and Cadburys with cocoa beans. Two thirds of the Ivory Coast's trade revenue comes from cocoa production, however the industry is under fire due to a dependence on child labour. The chocolate industry is being called upon to further develop and financially support programs that help rescue and rehabilitate children working in chocolate farms.