The confederation of chocolate makers and confectioners of France, represented by Daniel Mercier, its vice-president, and Alexandre Bellion, Master chocolate maker, has just completed a mission in Cameroon. The purpose of this mission was to lay the foundations for a collaboration whose aim is to open up the French and European market for high-end cocoa to Cameroonian producers.
"The confederation of chocolate makers and confectioners of France will spotlight Cameroon at the Paris chocolate fair to be held next September," Daniel Mercierau explained during a press briefing.
"We want to come and train traditional chocolate makers on site in Cameroon, then invite them a few days or weeks in Paris to work alongside the French Chefs," added Daniel Mercier, who also owns major brands in France.
The main lines of collaboration between French chocolate makers and Cameroonian cocoa producers are:
- The production and export of high-quality cocoa
- The installation of modern cottage-industry units to process cocoa into chocolate
- The training of young Cameroonians to the craft of traditional chocolate maker
- The processing and export of semi-finished high-end cocoa products and, finally
- The promotion of cocoa from Cameroon.
"This collaboration is part of our dynamics of constant search for the best outlets for Cameroonian products," explained Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, the Cameroonian Minister in charge of Trade, at the end of a meeting with the Confederation.
This initiative comes at a time when world cocoa prices are falling. During the last marketing campaign, the field price of the kilogramme of cocoa dropped from 1200 to 900 FCFA."Knowing that high-end products are not, or very little affected by the crisis, positioning themselves on the high-quality cocoa niche is in itself a measure of mitigating the negative impact of the erratic movements of the market of conventional products, "explains Minister Mbarga Atangana.
Cameroon, the fourth biggest cocoa producer in Africa and sixth in the world, wants to include, from now on, local cocoa processing in its agenda, in order to reduce the shocks associated with fluctuating cocoa prices on the international market. The country has an average annual production of 300,000 tons, with yields of about 850 kilogrammes per hectare.
The quality of Cameroonian cocoa is grade I, grade II and below standard. The country has only one industrial processing unit and a few traditional processors.