Bill Headshot_v3Asia is critically important to the global chocolate and cocoa market, both from a sourcing and consumer perspective. As in other parts of the world, cocoa is primarily grown on small, family-operated farms, with Indonesia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines being among the region’s current leading producers. Malaysia has a long tradition of plantation cocoa farming, although marketed production in the country has declined in recent years. Consumers in China, India and elsewhere are acquiring a growing taste for chocolate that could result in a regional imbalance if production does not keep pace.

In April I attended the Asia Choco Cocoa Congress in Singapore where this topic was discussed by some 100 delegates. The World Bank’s Hans Jansen moderated a session during which he challenged those in industry and in the public sector to develop a stronger regional plan for meeting future market demand. At the country level, Indonesia has made good progress on developing a public-private partnership platform through the Cocoa Sustainability Partnership and has launched a new national cocoa strategic plan. A newly approved Millennium Challenge Corporation Green Prosperity – Sustainable Cocoa Production Program will help our sector to grow cocoa in a more environmentally responsible way. Nevertheless, it was clear from the discussions in Singapore, and during a subsequent meeting with the Cocoa Association of Asia, that more must be done to promote sustainable cocoa farming in the region.

I concluded my trip to Asia by visiting one of the region’s most important consuming countries, Japan. WCF has 12 Japanese company members based in or near Tokyo. During my time in Japan, I was truly honored to meet Kazuo Kawamura, president and representative director of Meiji Co, Ltd., along with his senior staff. Mars, Incorporated and Lotte also hosted me for discussions on cocoa sustainability. On the final evening of my visit, I hosted a reception for all of WCF’s members in Japan, an event that reminded me how fortunate WCF is to have a high level of engagement and support from our Japanese members.

Join us in Washington June 30 – July 1 as we discuss the global cocoa economy and other important topics related to cocoa sustainability at our annual Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair in Washington, D.C. WCF will also be celebrating its 15th Anniversary with a Gala Dinner on June 30. We invite you to join us!


Afternoon_Plenary_The_Food_Energy_Water_NexusOn May 6, Swiss Charitable Foundation The Jacobs Foundation announced an unprecedented commitment to the education of children and youth in cocoa growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire at the inaugural Clinton Global Initiative meeting in the Middle East and Africa. The new program, Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC), will reach nearly 200,000 individuals through a series of interlinked interventions—in research, capacity building, policy formulation and influence, fundraising, and supporting matching grants to complement CocoaAction.

CocoaAction was launched in May 2014 in the two focus countries of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The commitment we made then was to deliver a comprehensive package of services in both productivity and community development to cocoa farmers, their families and their communities. The announcement attracted a fair amount of media and industry attention and also, donor attention. The CocoaAction platform presents an industry-wide platform for public-private partnerships in the sector.

TRECC Article 2The Jacobs Foundation investment of 50 million Swiss Francs, or approximately 52 million USD, extends the CocoaAction community development investment and focus into new areas—support for youth and children through improved primary education, better teacher training, and vocational training among other activities. We look forward to finding new partners willing to support TRECC. Learn more about CocoaAction at and TRECC at


The Hershey Company is the Cocoa Legacy Sponsor of WCF’s 15th Anniversary Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair. As Legacy Sponsor, Hershey is celebrating WCF’s 15 years of promoting sustainability in the cocoa sector, and the importance of working together as an industry toward these efforts.

Consistent with values founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey, Hershey is committed to the responsible global sourcing of ingredients while providing stakeholders with information about business operations, including important cocoa sustainability initiatives in West Africa.

Hershey’s Shared Goodness framework represents the conviction that strong company performance is intrinsically linked to responsible, sustainable operations.

As a founder of both WCF and CocoaAction, Hershey values sustainable partnerships and shared responsibilities, and is working together with governments and NGOs on common solutions.

The Hershey ‘Learn To Grow’ program is on track to register more than 60,000 West African cocoa farmers. Learn to Grow helps create both better farming practices and better cocoa communities.

Learn to Grow logo-2014

Hershey’s long-term vision for cocoa sustainability is demonstrated by the commitment to purchase 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020. Certification premiums help farmers and farmer organizations modernize their farms and operations while also investing in their communities. By the end of 2015, 50 percent of Hershey cocoa will be certified.

Bright futures for children start with basic nutrition around the world and in West Africa. Hershey’s investment in and assistance with the startup of a Project Peanut Butter manufacturing plant is providing both educational opportunity and essential nutritional support to areas of Sub-Saharan Africa where there is a great need for both.

The expertise and support of  partners involved in improving farmer livelihoods is necessary to continue on in the journey to achieve a truly sustainable cocoa sector.

Visit for more information.



In Côte d’Ivoire, ethnic divisions have recently been sources of conflict. Several different ethnic groups can often be found in a single cocoa-growing community, and these groups can sometimes isolate themselves. However, in World Cocoa Foundation (WCF)’s Aspire to Maternal and Child Health (ASMI) program women from many different ethnic groups living in the same community have begun to work together.

The president of the Mother’s Association after the adoption of their by-laws.
The president of the Mother’s Association after the adoption of their by-laws.

The ASMI program aims to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality in Côte d’Ivoire through literacy training, maternal health awareness raising, and improving the health of infants and young children. In the program’s first year in the Batéguedéa 2 community there was an overwhelming response among women in the community to participate in the literacy courses offered. As a result, women from nine different ethnic groups in Batéguedéa 2, which were previously isolated from each other, now sit in the same classroom to learn to read, write, count, and learn about maternal and child health issues. Opposing leaders of these groups have also begun to collaborate and have provided a fence for the classroom where the women learn and help to keep the school clean.

To ensure the sustainability of ASMI’s activities, Mother’s Associations (MA) have also been established. Women are encouraged to contribute fees to the MA, from which loans can be taken for funding of group literacy, childcare and school activities, entrepreneurship activities, health emergencies etc. Before ASMI, in Batéguedéa 2 there were nine different Mother’s Associations divided by ethnic groups. Today, all these women from different ethnic groups are members of a single MA created by the ASMI program. All ethnic groups are represented in the executive office of the MA, and all of the women contribute to purchase snacks for their children while they are in the literacy classes. Through these sustainability efforts, it is hoped that of social cohesion will be improved in Batéguedéa 2.



WCF welcomes the first Borlaug Fellow from Malaysia, Tee Yei Kheng. The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program/Global Cocoa Initiative supports the exchange of cocoa scientists from the Americas, Southeast Asia and Africa with a two-to-three month research Fellowship in the United States, to acquire skills and knowledge that can be shared in their home institutions. This program is supported by WCF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service.

Yei Kheng obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Plant Technology in August 2008 from the Universiti Malaysia Sabah and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Horticulture in May 2012. After working as a publication officer for the Pertanika Journal at the University Putra Malaysia for two years, she joined the Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) in March 2013 as a Research Officer within the Upstream Division.

As a plant physiologist, Yei Kheng is responsible for identifying research opportunities in order to address current issues within the cocoa industry that hinder the growth of cocoa production in Malaysia. With a strong desire to develop valuable collaborations with other research institutions, she applied for the Borlaug Fellowship to gain the knowledge and skills of new technology being implemented in the cocoa research sector. Her focus for the Borlaug Fellowship will be vascular streak dieback disease (VSD), a major cocoa disease in Malaysia.

Yei Kheng will be characterizing the effects of micronutrient applications on lignin biosynthesis in cacao seedlings, exploring whether or not increased lignin formation reduces the susceptibility of cacao to vascular streak dieback. In addition, she will participate in the initial efforts in sequencing the Ceratobasidium theobroma (formerly Oncobasidium theobromae P.H.B. Talbot & Keane) genome (the fungus that causes VSD), an ongoing project at the Sustainable Perennial Crop Laboratory (SPCL), a part of USDA/ARS, in Beltsville, Maryland.

The opportunity to work directly with prominent U.S. research institutes, as well as learn from leading research scientists, will expand the potential to find ways to combat plant pathogens in Malaysia and will support smallholder farmers in producing higher quality cocoa beans. Yei Kheng is eager to share the knowledge she learns with her colleagues in Malaysia.Southeast Asia Article



Latin_America_1WCF hosted its first Spanish language webinar on cocoa research in Latin America on May 6 in collaboration with the Americas Cacao Breeders Working Group. The Group brings together cacao breeders, scientists in related disciplines, and industry members to collaborate on cocoa breeding and management of germplasm resources. In an effort to address common threats to cacao production throughout the region, the group was formed in 2014 in Costa Rica with the help and support of Costa Rica’s Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) Cacao Breeding Program, and WCF.

More than 20 people participated in the webinar from different countries, including Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico. The webinar featured presentations from four speakers, as well as updates on the America’s Cacao Breeders Working Group.

The four presenters were Darwin Martinez of Fedecacao (Federación Nacional de Cacaoteros) from Colombia presenting on the characterization of regional Colombian cacao; Raul Valle of Ceplac (Comissão Executiva do Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira) from Brazil presenting on the physiology of applied cocoa production to genetic breeding; Miguel Ramirez-Guillermo of Inifap (Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales Agrícolas y Pecuarias) presenting on the genetic diversity of cocoa cultivated in Tabasco, Mexico; and Brian Irish of USDA-TARS, ARS (United States Department of Agriculture, Tropical Agricultural Research Station-Agricultural Research Service) from Puerto Rico presenting on cacao genetic resources. Each presenter highlighted his focus area of research and discussed at length the impact of his work and its significance in influencing cacao production in their home country.

For any questions or comments please contact Ben Brennan.

For additional WCF research resources, visit:






June 30 – July 1: 27th Partnership Meeting & Cocoa Sustainability Trade Fair, Washington, D.C.


Virginia Sopyla, Associate Director of Southeast Asia, Latin America, & Research

  • June 1 – 15 : Jakarta, Indonesia

Bill Guyton, President

  • July 22 – 25 : Zurich, Switzerland
  • July 26 – 28: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Paul Macek, Senior Program Director of West Africa

  • June 9 – 12: Côte d’Ivoire

Marie-Claude Zando, CocoaAction Senior Advisor

  • June 9 – 12: Côte d’Ivoire



WCF is pleased to welcome new member company from New Zealand, Whittaker’s. WCF would also like to extend a warm welcome to Adam Yefet (Executive Assistant to the President), Jenny Wittann (Communications & Outreach Intern), John Durkin (Human Resources Associate), Mat Travis (Operations Assistant), Sarah Clark (Finance & Accounting Intern), and Sierra Leder (Communications & Outreach Intern) as they join our Washington, D.C. office.

WCF extends its best wishes to Colleen Bickel (Operations Assistant) and Elizabeth Burst (Operations Support) on their new ventures.