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10 tips for doing business with European cocoa buyers

European buyers are constantly looking for ways to secure supplies of good-quality cocoa. This gives you the opportunity to establish long-term relationships with buyers, especially in both the commodity and the fine flavour segments. Here are some tips for doing business with European cocoa buyers. After reading these, you will have a better chance of convincing importers to buy your product.

Exporting cocoa to the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is one of the main chocolate consumers in Europe. After years of decline due to a slowdown in the chocolate industry, British imports of cocoa beans increased again in 2017. The main supplier to the UK is the Ivory Coast, followed by Ghana. The British chocolate market is becoming more specialised; the increase in artisanal chocolate makers and high-end shops serve more demanding and educated consumers. It is also in the United Kingdom that fair trade finds its largest global market.

Exporting cocoa to France

France is one of the main markets for speciality chocolates in Europe. The French preference for dark chocolates is higher than the European average. French consumers also favour premium ingredients and high-quality cocoa, which reflects the gourmet tradition. Niche markets for organic and Fairtrade chocolates are also significant in France, and the two concepts are increasingly converging. The mainstream market is dominated by multinationals such as Barry Callebaut and Cargill, together with French companies such as Cémoi.

Specialty Coffee, Fine-Flavour Cacao and Cacao Derivatives (Peru)

This programme is a part of our integrated country programme for Peru. It covers two market sectors: specialty coffee; and fine-flavour cacao and cacao derivatives. Our main goal is to help exporters of these product groups to do more business in Europe.

European demand for specialty coffee, fine-flavour cacao and cacao derivatives is high. Many Peruvian companies in these segments have a lot of export potential. They need support and assistance in getting ready for the European market.

Exporting cocoa to Europe

The European market offers opportunities for cocoa exporters. Here you'll find the information you need to help you get your cacao on the European market.

Exporting cocoa to Germany

Germany is the second-largest grinder and importer of cocoa beans in Europe, behind the Netherlands. Opportunities for exporters lie in conventional and premium products (speciality, fine flavour and certified chocolate, especially organic). In the premium segment, direct trade is preferred among smaller German traders and specialty chocolate makers. In general, the German cocoa and chocolate market is rather competitive given the high number of players active in the sector.

Exporting cocoa to Belgium

Belgium is famous for its chocolates. It has the world’s largest processing factory and a flourishing sector of artisanal ‘made in Belgium’ chocolatiers. Belgium also has the second-largest cocoa port in Europe, Antwerp, and plays a significant role as a supply base for cocoa deliveries to the industries of neighbouring countries. Belgium imports around 99% of its cocoa beans directly from producing countries and, although their imports consist predominantly of bulk beans, the demand for high-quality cocoa is growing.

Exporting cocoa beans to the Netherlands

The Netherlands is the world’s main importer of cocoa beans and home to the second-largest cocoa grinding industry, after only the Ivory Coast. The Netherlands imports around 85% of its cocoa beans from West Africa, primarily as bulk cocoa. The demand for high-quality cocoa is small in comparison to the conventional market, but it is growing and attracting further interest in cocoa beans from Latin American countries.

What trends offer opportunities or pose threats in the European cocoa market?

The popularity of specialty chocolate is growing in Europe. Demand for high-quality fine flavour cocoa and single-origin and single-estate chocolates is getting stronger. Multinationals increasingly find ways to grow their influence in this specialty market. At the same time, sustainability is becoming more important in the European chocolate market, affecting both specialty and bulk cocoa. As such, sustainability programmes have become commonplace among cocoa trading companies.

What is the demand for cocoa in Europe?

Europe is a very diverse and therefore interesting market for cocoa. Its chocolate processing and manufacturing industry is strong, requiring high volumes of cocoa beans. The industry processes large amounts of bulk cocoa, but demand for specialty cocoa is growing strongly. Sustainability is an important subject for the European cocoa industry and for European chocolate consumers.

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