July 21, 2024

ICCF 2023: Navigating The Future of Cocoa Sustainability


L-R: Fuad Abubakar Mohammed (Head, Ghana Cocoa Marketing Company UK), Prof The Lord Alton of Liverpool (Member, British House of Lords), The Right Worshipful The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Patricia McAllister, Chantal Coady OBE (Chairman, Academy of Chocolate), HRM Oba Dokun Thompson (The Oloni of Eti-Oni, Osun State, Nigeria and Founder, International Cocoa Diplomacy), HRM Queen Angelique-Monet of Eti-Oni, Her Excellency Mrs Nkechi Mbah (First Lady, Enugu State, Nigeria), Andrew Whiting (Chairman, Beech’s Fine Chocolates, Preston UK), Prince Abimbola Olashore (Deputy President, Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce)

Spread the love


By Correspondent


The International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum 2023, a 3 day program of the International Cocoa Diplomacy, founded in 2020 by HRM Oba Dokun Thompson which was recently held to discuss the upcoming EU regulation on deforestation, its impact on cocoa farmers and the global cocoa trade and to also celebrate the 2023/24 International Cocoa New Year was brought to a close with the annual Royal Cocoa Festival Dinner London held at the prestigious Six Park Place, St James’s London, Home to the Royal Overseas League.

Oba Dokun Thompson

The 3 day program brought together cocoa farmers across cocoa-producing regions of the world, cocoa processors and traders, industry actors, cocoa researchers and experts, policy and decision-makers, chocolate makers, equipment manufacturers, cocoa value and supply chain players and all key stakeholders to achieve International Cocoa Diplomacy’s objective of bridging the gap between producing regions and consuming nations for shared value purposes that will return cocoa farmers’ self-worth and dignity as well as improve their livelihood towards achieving sustainability using the tenets of diplomacy.


Some of the speakers over the 3 days included: Robin Dand (Secretary General Federation of Cocoa Commerce), Francis Anatogu (Transaharan Consulting), Dr Oluseye Oludoye (Environmental Science Lecturer, Teeside University, UK), Jules Achard (CEO, RhizoSource Portugal) Soji Sanyaolu (CEO Airsmat Inc UK), Antonie Fountain (VOICE Network, Netherlands), Lisette Davis (Gabu Chocolatier, Grenada and UK), Dela Akuffo (ACCE, Ghana), Peter Macjob (Senior Journalist, BBC Business)

The Dinner which has now become an annual fixture in the diaries of key stakeholders within the global cocoa industry was organized in partnership with Friends of Eti-Oni, UK.

The evening which was hosted by Ms Ann Dimoni started with a welcome message by Ms Yemisi Jenkins MBE (Global Coordinator, Friends of Eti-Oni) who in her message appreciated everyone for being part of a worthy cause and reiterated that the group was proud to be part of the vision of Oba Dokun Thompson through inspiring events and activities that create opportunities for networking, cultural exchanges and improving of bilateral relationships that led to the founding of International Cocoa Diplomacy to help inculcate the cocoa culture at producing regions to help bridge the gap with consuming regions and achieve shared value purposes that can transform producing communities.

In his opening remarks, Prof the Lord Alton of Liverpool who was honourary chairman of the evening, stated that “events like this, while celebrating, also give us the opportunity to reflect on the past and look into the future on how we can in one way or another make contributions that will positively impact the world.” Lord Alton went further, “It is gladdening to note that stakeholders across divides can come together to begin to chart new courses and work out plans that will ultimately put smiles on the faces of farmers wherever they may be and can also have all the basics of life for self-pride, self-worth and self-dignity.

“As we dine together this evening and prepare for the 2023/24 Cocoa New Year, we must remember those who cannot join us on the table at this moment but are out there ensuring that the supply of the main ingredient of our beloved Chocolate is guaranteed.

“I want to dedicate this moment to them that they are not forgotten and we should all join hands to make it possible that lives are transformed and the environment protected for the good of all.” He was particularly pleased with the partnership between Oba Thompson and Beech’s which was located not too far from his constituency.”

The Right Worshipful The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Patricia McAllister who was the Special Guest of Honour also spoke in the spirit of collaboration. In her remarks, she stated: “Cocoa, as a symbol of sweetness and delight, has the potential to foster relationships that are equally sweet and delightful. In this ever-changing business environment, collaboration and partnership have emerged as the keys to unlocking a sustainable future for our cocoa industry.

“The work of the International Cocoa Diplomacy to build bridges between cocoa-producing regions and consuming nations both raises understanding of our shared values, and appreciation of our purpose to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers.”

She said further “the challenges facing the cocoa industry, from climate change and fluctuating market prices to ethical concerns and the need to empower cocoa-producing communities, are too substantial for any single entity to overcome.

“It is through collaboration and innovative partnerships that we can drive meaningful change. In today’s interconnected world, where boundaries are increasingly blurred, we recognize that business, diplomacy, and sustainability are intertwined.

“The International Cocoa Diplomacy is a beacon of hope in this regard, promoting dialogue, understanding, and shared solutions to the pressing issues facing this industry.”

The Lord Mayor also called on stakeholders across the supply chain for collective actions that can ensure that future generations continue to enjoy the delights of cocoa. She ended her remarks with the statement; “As we embark on this journey of cocoa diplomacy, I encourage each and every one of you to embrace the spirit of collaboration and partnership.

“Let us work hand in hand to create a cocoa industry that is not just profitable but also one that sustains the environment, empowers cocoa-producing nations, and enriches the lives of those who bring us this beloved commodity.”

The Special Guest Speaker was Hon Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Chief Executive of Ghana Cocobod who was represented by Fuad Mohammed Abubakar, Head of Ghana Cocoa marketing Company, UK.

In his address, he gave the historical background of Ghana’s cocoa production, the journey through colonial and post-colonial periods and its strategy and preparation to comply with the new EU policy on sustainability with the mapping of over 800,000 farms in Ghana for the purpose of traceability.

He also pointed out the encouragement of entrepreneurs to invest and move into the value add space as a way to get more from cocoa. 

The Evening continued with Tribute paid to Late Sara Jayne Stanes OBE who was founder of the Academy of Chocolate and the Special Guest Speaker at the 2019 edition of the Dinner.

The tribute was given by Chantal Coady OBE who is the current Chairman of the Academy of Chocolate and in her tribute, She reiterated the importance of the work of the Academy which had helped thousands of small artisan chocolate makers across over 40 countries gain recognition and appreciation as they continue to push understanding of sustainable and traceable practices. 

Clay Gordon, the Chief Marketing Officer of International Cocoa Diplomacy who moderated the discussion panels of the international cocoa and chocolate forum over 2 days was also at hand to give a brief summary of the outcomes and the mission of International Cocoa Diplomacy.

The highlight of the evening saw the presentation of GUREJE IV Chocolate Brand by Andrew Whiting, (Chairman of Beech’s Fine Chocolates), a brand that is based on redefining new business models around what is possible through collaboration that offers equity and shared value in the complex world of cocoa.

The Chocolate soon to be launched in the UK market in January 2024 will offer an initial 4 flavours – Dark, Milk, Orange and Salted Caramel.

In his message, HRM Oba Dokun Thompson, the Oloni of Eti-Oni, Osun State, Nigeria who was accompanied with his wife, HRM Queen Angelique-Monet of Eti-Oni stated that Gureje IV Chocolate was a collaborative effort between him and Beech’s Fine Chocolates of Preston, UK supported by John Vents Industries Limited of Nigeria who was also the Gold Sponsor of the 3 Day Program and a clear example of collaboration between UK and Nigeria.

He stated that there was a lack of the cocoa culture with a major challenge with funding to optimize achieving value addition in producing regions and the way forward was to encourage partnerships that will share investment requirements, resources and capacity that will make scaling up possible.

Prince Abimbola Olashore, Deputy President of the Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce  who was also in attendance  stated he was greatly impressed with the commitment of Oba Dokun Thompson to bring about a positive improvement in the participation of rural farmers in the global cocoa value chain which should lead to improved earnings and quality of life in the cocoa producing areas.

He added his appeal to other stakeholders in the industry especially government and its agencies to fast-track resolution of the impediments to rapid improvement in access to finance and international markets.

The Dinner was brought to a close with a vote of thanks by Princess Busola Fawole, Patron of Friends of Eti-Oni who described Oba Thompson as a disruptor who had conscientiously and intentionally followed his vision to ensure Eti-Oni was brought to the fore front of the cocoa discussion and as a solution provider to the many complex social issues the cocoa industry faced.

The Dinner guest list also included Her Excellency Mrs Nkechi Mbah, First Lady, Enugu State, Nigeria, Dr Patrick Adebola, ED Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, Dr Carrie Pemberton-Ford (Director, Cambridge Centre for Applied Research on Human Trafficking), representatives of the High Commissions of Ghana and St Lucia and other cocoa and chocolate enthusiasts.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *