Chic African Culture Blog

Cocoa Production and Cocoa Supply Chain

Farmers in Africa grow over 70 percent of the world’s cocoa and Olam International Limited is a major player in the global cocoa business. OLM cocoa footprint is crucial to ending the deforestation of Africa's cocoa grown countries.



Drying cocoa beans in the sun in Ghana
Drying cocoa beans in the sun in Ghana Olam processing

About Cocoa Farming and Cocoa Supply Chain


Cocoa farming is an industry that is largely invisible to shoppers, yet essential to feeding the world’s sweet tooth. Cocoa processing, the process of turning raw cocoa beans into powder, liquor, and butter is a major step in creating the candy bars that line store shelves and Olam International Limited is a major player.

In December 2014, Archer Daniels Midland Company today announced that it has reached an agreement to sell its global cocoa business to Olam International Limited for $1.3 billion. Olam was established in 1989 in Nigeria by Indian conglomerate Kewalram Chanrai Group. Olam International Limited operates in part by growing and selling cocoa beans. The Company has operations across approximately 20 platforms in over 70 countries.

Olam is one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocoa beans and a globally leading processor of cocoa powders, cocoa masses, and cocoa butters. Olam has been accused in the past of deforestation by purchasing cocoa grown illegally in national parks and other protected forests in the Côte d’Ivoire.

From seed to pod cocoa tree processing
Cocoa seedlings and shade tree seedlings grown in a nursery.
Cocoa seedlings planted, shade trees planted.
Ripe cocoa pods harvested from trees.
Pods broken, cocoa beans and pulp removed.
Cocoa beans fermented under banana leaves.
Well fermented cocoa beans dried, either in the sun on raised mats or in solar dryers.
Cocoa beans put into sacks for transport.
Weighing and checking at buying the station.
Farmers compensated individually or through co-operatives, premiums paid.


The report accused Olam of endangering wildlife by purchasing cocoa beans linked to deforestation; these types of illegally grown cocoa beans are called dirty beans. However, on Olam website, it states, “Our goal is to achieve 100% traceable and sustainable cocoa volumes from our direct origination supply chain by 2020.”

Olam also states, “We work hand-in-hand with partners, customers, governments, NGOs and through joint initiatives to create the necessary conditions for every person whose life revolves around cocoa production to prosper.”

Africa produces around 70 percent of the world cocoa crop, it is the heart of Olam cocoa bean sourcing operations and they are the leading exporter of cocoa beans from the African continent. Olam chocolate bean footprint covers Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda. In Ghana in 2016, Olam provided shade trees to increase ground cover and support forest conservation.


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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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