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Cocoa and Cocoa Products

Exporting Cocoa and Cocoa products 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 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.

Which 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.

Which 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 fine flavour cocoa beans to Europe

The demand for fine flavour cocoa in Europe is growing rapidly. Fine flavour cocoa is a niche market, in which small quantities of higher-value and quality cocoa are traded. Fine flavour cocoa is often combined with single origin and bean-to-bar concepts. Direct trade is a growing channel for fine flavour cocoa beans, resulting in closer interactions between cocoa growers and final manufacturers. Prices for fine flavour cocoa can be up to two or three times higher than those for bulk cocoa, thus providing good opportunities to suppliers in producing countries.

Exporting cocoa beans to Switzerland

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate. The country has a reputation for high quality chocolate, with many famous international brands, including Lindt and Toblerone. Swiss consumers have one of the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption worldwide. The opportunities in premium products (specialty, fine flavour and certified chocolate) are growing significantly. Within this segment, the preferred channel is direct trade with smaller traders, specialty chocolate stores, chocolatiers or bakeries.

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.

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