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Which trends offer opportunities on the European cocoa market?

The popularity of speciality chocolate is growing in Europe. Demand for high-quality fine flavour cocoa is getting stronger. While Ivory Coast and Ghana remain the largest bulk cocoa suppliers to Europe, Ivory Coast has managed to keep its top position, while Ghana’s share is decreasing. Several other West African suppliers are increasing their market share. Sustainability is increasingly important on the European chocolate market. Consumers want to know more about the context of cocoa production, and the impact of their purchases.

Through what channels can you get cocoa onto the European market?

The confectionery industry (chocolate, sweets and candies) accounts for two thirds of global demand for cocoa. Commodity cocoa represents the largest part of the market, both globally as well as in Europe. This segment is marked by a traditional trading structure and concentration around a few players. Speciality cocoa is an increasingly interesting segment for exporters in producing countries. Especially in this segment, direct contact between European chocolate makers and producers is growing.

What requirements should cocoa meet to be allowed on the European market?

To enter the European cocoa market, you must comply with legal requirements on e.g. food safety, food contaminant levels and consumer labelling. Furthermore, European cocoa buyers increasingly have additional requirements, especially in the field of food safety certification, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. Meeting these additional requirements can increase your chances on the market considerably.

Exporting certified cocoa to Europe

Europe is the main market for certified cocoa beans and other cocoa products in the world. The growth of this market is driven by increasing consumer awareness of sustainability in the cocoa production, as well as by sustainable-sourcing commitments by major cocoa processors and manufacturers. Production and sales of certified cocoa have yet to reach maturity, since not all cocoa certified at origin is sold as certified, therefore failing to achieve the desired premium quality.

What is the demand for cocoa in Europe?

The European cocoa market offers good opportunities for developing countries. Europe is a dominant force in the cocoa sector, representing more than half of global cocoa bean imports. Furthermore, most beans are imported directly from developing countries, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany being the largest importers. However, competition in the mass-consumption market is fierce. You are therefore recommended to focus on premium/specially/fine flavour cocoa, also because European demand for such products is increasing.

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