The Cocoa Association of Asia (CAA) announced a number of initiatives designed to further develop the region’s cocoa industry at last month’s CAA International Cocoa Conference and Dinner at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.

The CAA said it is collaborating with Singapore Management University (SMU) through the Asia Cocoa Academy (ACA), the association’s learning arm. According to the CAA, the academy will provide the necessary platform for CAA to “contribute directly towards human capital development efforts of its stakeholders and through the development of proprietary intellectual property and training programmes”.

This will ensure that its members maintain their competitive edge, while Singapore continues its dominant position as a cocoa hub in Asia in the face of increasing global competition, said the CAA.

The ACA will introduce three key initiatives as part of its developmental efforts for the sector:


A comprehensive introductory course, CTP is for anyone new to the industry or for related service companies seeking more in-depth knowledge (for example, banks and logistics companies).

This course will be offered twice a year and will be taught by SMU professors along with industry experts. The objective is to develop the next generation of cocoa industry professionals and keep Singapore as a vibrant hub for cocoa trading and support functions.

The programme will be offered to SMU students as well (possibly as an elective), so that they will learn about the many aspects of the cocoa industry — from sourcing to trading, production, logistics, and more.


A history of cocoa trading and processing in the region will be captured in a serialized e-book format, which aims to document the past in order to better direct where the industry is going, and provide a basis for non-cocoa experts to understand the business and collaborate on innovative solutions.


In-depth studies and analyses on urgent industry topics will be carried out by SMU staff and industry experts. These studies aim to find solutions to the challenges and obstacles preventing Asia from becoming the largest cocoa market in the world.

The CTP was launched at the event’s gala dinner. The CAA will start developing the programme with SMU next year and plans to begin offering the course in 2019, if not earlier.

Growth opportunities for the chocolate consumption in the region include increasing penetration rates in the traditionally big countries such as China and India, as well as gaining markets such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

At the event, delegates learnt from the panel discussions that the cocoa industry in the region is set to grow more. In fact, the two-day conference offered Asia’s cocoa players an opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss trends and challenges facing the cocoa industry.

For example, during the session on the Future of Cocoa and Chocolate Consumption Trends in Asia and the World, panellist Geana Barbosa, head of sales for Euromonitor International, Singapore, revealed that India has been one of the top chocolate consumers in the region for the past five years.

“For the next five years, it will keep its position in the top 10 list — in terms of growth percentage — giving space to other countries such as Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, countries with CAGRs for the next five years at above 14%,” she said.

“On the other hand, India, still with 12.8% growth in percentage terms, represents a massive absolute value growth of almost US$1.7 million.”

She told delegates that growth in India is partly due to rising penetration rates, including among rural consumers, and a growing fondness for chocolate as premium option.

“On one hand, you have global companies focusing on selling chocolate confectionery via rural markets, with products being offered at lower price points and in small pack sizes. At the same time, the assortment of premium chocolate confectionery is expected to grow in the short to medium term as companies gear up to sell higher quality products under their brand names,” she said.

Barbosa also pointed out other growth opportunities for the chocolate consumption in the region, one of which was “by increasing penetration rates in the traditionally big countries such as China and India, as well as gaining markets such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka”.

“Mature markets such as North America and Western Europe have chocolate confectionery consumption per capita per year of 4.1kg and 4.6kg respectively. In Asia, China and India are still around 100g per capita per year. To capture that, the industry needs to keep ‘educating and enchanting’ consumers about cocoa products, which goes much beyond chocolate confectionery itself.”

One opportunity is to develop ways to include chocolate in the recipes of local deserts, maybe as a “premiumization” of traditional recipes, she added.

But while the end-products of cocoa beans face a sweet future, there are still challenges facing cocoa farmers in the region. At the session on Increasing Cocoa Farmer Resilience, Musdalifah Machmud, Deputy for Foods and Agriculture Coordination, Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of Indonesia, pointed out the need for more transfer of technology to Indonesian farmers to improve cocoa farming productivity. She also said cooperation between the private sector and the government would help the industry.

Currently, the CAA said Indonesia is the top producer of cocoa in South-east Asia, followed by Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. However, Papua New Guinea, located in the Pacific Rim, produces more cocoa than the last three countries.

All in all, CAA said the two-day event provided delegates fresh insights into the cocoa industry.

“The cocoa processing industry is multi-faceted and has its own unique complexities. Thus, it is important to build strong future leaders for the long-term sustainability of the industry,“ said Mastura Mansor, secretary-general, Cocoa Association of Asia.

“We are getting positive feedback from various industry players — some parties have indicated their willingness to be involved in the CTP in one way or another. With good Asian demand for cocoa and chocolate, this should help us in making Asian cocoa great again,” she concluded.