by Pierre Courtemanche, OPTEL Group, May 2019

I recently took part in the World Cocoa Summit in Guayaquil, Ecuador, which welcomed 500+ attendees, including eminent producers, traders, providers, exporters and government officials in the cocoa industry.

During the event, I gave a conference on traceability, describing the process from the farmer to the chocolate bar, and the main highlight was when I talked about hOpkins, our chatbot. People seemed very impressed and saw great potential in this tool, particularly to get closer to consumers.

The conference also generated several conversations surrounding the main challenges of the cocoa industry.

Firstly, the price of cocoa beans fluctuates a lot, because of demand, financial crises, resource and supply availability, the country of origin and its requirements, etc. To create stability, securing the supply at the source is essential.

Cocoa bean farmers have little knowledge of agricultural techniques and the market, and are often left on their own. They need to learn how to secure their crops, and, to help them, we have to provide data on their production and increase their engagement and proximity, thanks to collaborative platforms such as hOpkins.

Furthermore, farmers are increasingly required to prove that their cocoa is fair trade, organic, or high-quality, and to identify pesticides, ingredients, and other relevant information, hence their critical need to improve their raw material tracing process.

I showed the attendees that these issues can be solved by leveraging geotraceability, a cost‑effective technology with the ability to provide information on the entire process. It can help smallholders decide which future interventions they could use to increase their efficiency and means of livelihood, resulting in a viable, sustainable cocoa supply chain.

The summit was an excellent opportunity, since this type of event is crucial to securing the market and making it more inclusive for all stakeholders.