Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. James Vibbi at the Produce Monitoring Board, Sierra Leone has been rated 3rd in the world by EU in export of organic cocoa. This was revealed in the EU Agricultural Market Briefs of 17 June 2020. The main importing EU Member States in 2019 were the Netherlands (where 98% of Sierra Leone’s cocoa beans are exported to), the United Kingdom and Germany.
- On Table six (6) under Annex I (on page 8), the report ranks countries by organic import volumes (for all products) to the EU by exporting country for 2018 and 2019 in metric tons. Under this category, Sierra Leone ranks 39th in the world and 11th in Africa (behind Egypt, Togo, Tunisia, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso).
- On the same table under annex 1 (on page 9) the EU imported from Sierra Leone a total of 7,965 metric tons of organic products in 2018 and a total of 11,535 metric tons in 2019. This represents a 44.8% leap from 2018, and cocoa takes a chunk of these figures for 2018 and 2019.
- On table 20 (page 17), the report ranks countries by organic import volumes of cocoa beans to the EU by exporting country for 2018 and 2019 in thousand metrics Under this category, Sierra Leone ranks 3rd in the world, behind only Dominican Republic and Peru.
|Organic import volumes of cocoa beans by exporting country, 2018 and 2019 (in thousand metric tons)|
|2019 imports||Change (%)||Share (%, 2019)|
|Congo, Democratic Republic Of||9.9||5.7||-42.4||8.6|
|Share selected countries in total (%)||88||87|
From the table above, you will realize that apart from the very good news of Sierra Leone being rated 3rd in the world by EU in export of organic cocoa, Sierra Leone is also the only country that experienced a positive change in percentage for organic cocoa export from 2018 to 2019 – i.e. a 45.4% leap/jump from 2018. All the other countries recorded a negative change in percentage. What this great leap means is that the Government of H.E. Dr. Julius Maada Bio through the Produce Monitoring Board (PMB) has worked very hard to encourage cocoa farmers to produce more organic cocoa and to process it in ways that will maintain its organic nature for exportation. PMB has also worked hard to ensure there is traceability and the requirements of single origin are strictly adhered to by all exporters of cocoa beans. In the past, exporters used to take our cocoa beans to Ghana and/or Ivory Coast and mix them up with the cocoa beans of these countries, thereby erasing any means to single out our cocoa beans (i.e. single origin) and tracing them back to Sierra Leone and to the district, chiefdom, community and farmer/cooperative that such cocoa beans come from.
From the figures quoted in point 2 above, and the figures on point 3, you will see that cocoa carries a chunk of the percentage that led to this great rating by the EU. See table below for ease of reference:
Sierra Leone has a favourable climate and soil conditions for growing organic cocoa., and this is something PMB is leveraging on to ensure Sierra Leone’s cocoa beans have a niche market. Sierra Leone’s cocoa beans have relatively low levels of cadmium, which is interesting for the EU and US markets, and PMB is working with all key cocoa value chain stakeholders to take advantage of this.
Given the important role of Europe in chocolate manufacturing, exports and consumption, demand for cocoa beans is high in Europe. Europe accounts for the largest cocoa-grinding activities in the world, with more than 37% of the market in 2018. Asia is the world’s second largest region for grinding activities (23%).
The demand for cocoa beans will continue to rise, especially with new chocolate consumption trends in countries like China and Japan – and PMB aims to take advantage of this to help position Sierra Leone and its cocoa farmers and exporters to make the best out of this. In Europe, the chocolate market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3% from 2020 to 2022. Most growth will come from western Europe. A key factor in this market increase is the growing demand for dark chocolate. This trend is closely linked to consumer interest in healthier chocolate alternatives.
The recognition by the EU for Sierra Leone’s organic cocoa is a testament to the great efforts that the Government of Sierra Leone, through the Produce Monitoring Board is leading to ensure Sierra Leone’s cocoa beans get high approval ratings in the EU cocoa market.