Traders and grinders

Two-thirds (66%) of the cocoa bean production in the world, is exported as raw beans, and the rest (34%) is locally processed. The process of producing cocoa liquor, butter and powder is known as grinding. A part of the cocoa liquor is sold to chocolate manufacturers; the rest is pressed to extract cocoa butter and cocoa powder. To produce chocolate, cocoa liquor is mixed with cocoa butter, sugar, milk and emulsifying agents. Cocoa butter is also used in cosmetic products such as moisturizing creams and soaps. Cocoa powder is used on a large-scale by other food industries for the production of drinks, desserts, ice creams, spreads, sauces, cakes and biscuits. The by-products of the cocoa beans – the husks and shells – are used as organic mulch, soil conditioners and poultry feed.


Cocoa beans are traditionally processed in The Netherlands, United States, Germany and Ivory Coast: each country processes over 350,000 tonnes per year. As with other commodities, one of the key features of the cocoa chain is the growing dominance of multinationals in trading, processing and manufacturing activities. Although, a large number of companies are in operation, a small number of well-known multinationals dominate the market: Archer Daniel Midland (ADM), Barry Callebaut, Blommer, Cargill and Petra Foods account for more than half of the total trade and grinding activities.



Just as the dominance exerted by a few international traders over the production, trade and processing of cocoa at the beginning of the chain, a few chocolate manufacturers (Cadbury Schweppes, Ferrero, Hershey, Kraft, Mars and Nestlé) dominate the chocolate confectionary market at the end of the supply chain. Many of these chocolate companies that previously manufactured chocolates from bean to end product, now concentrate on making final consumer products and on branding.


Product quality and traceability have attracted the interest of large companies and the retail sector. As cocoa production standards and certification become more widespread, companies are searching for ways to stand out from the competition and to guarantee the sustainability and traceability of their cocoa and chocolate products.