Kitchen Essentials – The Cocoa Plan
There are few foods Canadians love more than chocolate. A recent survey, however, has found we know very little about where it comes from or about threats to the global cocoa supply that need to be addressed to ward off a future without chocolate.
The study, conducted by Vision Critical for the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, a global initiative to ensure a sustainable cocoa supply and improve the lives of small farmers, found that 77 per cent of Canadians would be upset to wake up in a world without chocolate. Of the 1,000 Canadians surveyed, 62 per said they could “eat chocolate every day,” while 58 per cent said that if they had to choose their “last meal” it would definitely include chocolate. Meanwhile, 68 per cent confided a friend can “never go wrong” with a gift of chocolate and 39 per cent said chocolate “goes with every meal”!
Still, despite Canada’s national obsession with chocolate, we remain largely in the dark about it and about threats to the global cocoa supply that could make it an even scarcer luxury. Those include diseased or low-yield crops and ongoing upheaval. Almost half of survey respondents (42 per cent) thought most cocoa comes from Ecuador, while only 27 per cent correctly identified West Africa as the source of most of the world’s supply. A majority (55 per cent) indicated cocoa comes from a bush compared with the 27 per cent who rightly knew it grows on trees, like coconuts. And 59 per cent mistakenly thought that most cocoa comes from factory farms instead of from small, family-owned operations, where it is grown and harvested, often under challenging conditions.
“There is no question that while people love chocolate, many have very little idea of how cocoa is grown or of the challenges facing this valued commodity,” said Dr. Sergine Diop, General Manager of Nestlé’s Research and Development Centre in Ivory Coast. “Nestlé has partnered with small farmers to improve the quality and sustainability of cocoa crops in West Africa, and has developed and will distribute millions of higher-yielding, disease-resistant plantlets to them, among other proactive, mutually beneficial measures.”
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan is a $120-million initiative to improve cocoa sustainability and the livelihoods of cocoa farmers through a number of programs including: distributing higher-yielding, disease-resistant plantlets; providing education for farmers and their families; improving infrastructure in farming communities; and addressing and eliminating the use of child labour in the cocoa supply chain.
Canada is among some of the first countries in the world to introduce Cocoa Plan-sourced chocolate. Don’t forget to look for sustainably-harvested cocoa beans as well as a means of ensuring that farmers receive the most profit for their hard work.