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How Switzerlands first 100% organic cocoa processing plant is meeting demand for traceable and sustainable food

PRONATEC Swiss Cocoa Production can be an entirely organic production plant, the initial of its kind in Switzerland, which will process around 15,000 tonnes of organic cocoa beans per year. The cocoa is sourced directly from smallholder farming cooperatives and, the business believes, its approach is well positioned to meet up growing demand for sustainably produced foods.

With the brand new plant coupled with our direct sourcing from small-farmers we are able to much better meet up with the growing demand: The trend towards organic and fair trade certified products, especially towards stricter labels such as for example Bio Suisse or Demeter and the trend towards traceability from farm to table, CEO David Yersin told FoodNavigator. A lot more consumers are not merely searching for sustainable products but curious about wherever the ingredients result from, the Swiss organic and fair-trade pioneer believes.

While Yersin conceded that demand is coming under great pressure given the existing inflationary environment, he nevertheless believes the long-term prospects for sustainable, traceable food are solid.

We have been indeed seeing shifts on the market, consumers appear to buy differently. They’re facing price increases in food, petrol and energy, stretching their daily budget, the cocoa executive reflected.Branded natural products and organic shops are suffering, however less costly organic private labelled products from the big retailers still appear to grow. We usually do not think that the long-term trend towards sustainable food will undoubtedly be broken, but temporarily slowed up.

Underpinning this structural shift in consumption is really a growing knowing of the negative impact that food production will often have, Yersin suggested.The cocoa sector regularly faces negative press, be it for child and slave labour or deforestation and pesticide contamination of the rainforest. This is why we have been convinced that a growing number of food producers and consumers need it cocoa from sustainable sources. We have been prepared to meet this growing demand also to do our part to make sure, an increasing share of cocoa could be grown and processed sustainably.

Traceable and transparent production

Featuring its own cocoa processing plant can be an important step for PRONATEC. This means that stages of the worthiness chain are actually in its hands, from procuring beans from small-scale farmers, through fermentation and exporting the sale of finished products.

The business’s ‘unique’ direct sourcing model means every product could be traced back again to the smallholder who grew the cocoa. Moreover, semi-finished cocoa products are processed in ‘strictly separated’ batches. Each consignment of beans is handled separately, there is absolutely no mixing during production runs. This implies the plant meets the ‘strict criteria’ of organic and Fairtrade certification.

It’s the first production plant in Switzerland to create all three semi-finished products: cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Because we only process organic cocoa beans, there is absolutely no chance for any mixing with conventionally cultivated raw ingredients. And you can expect a lot of organic and Fairtrade certifications, Yersin noted.

Our target customers are mainly food companies all over the world, searching for certified cocoa products. These could be chocolate makers, milk processing companies, the baked goods industry and ice-cream producers. Our cocoa butter can be very much popular from manufacturers of natural cosmetics.

Yersin explained that the advanced of traceability that PRONATEC delivers allows it to meet up the growing demand among food companies and consumers for supply chain clarity.

Traceability gets a lot more important in the meals industry, also for food safety reasons. Once we are available organic certified products, we always needed a complete traceability for the product range, he noted.

The trend towards stricter labelling standards

The PRONATEC CEO suggested a very important factor driving this demand from the marketplace may be the move towards ‘stricter’ labelling requirements, such as for example Bio Suisse and Demeter.

Being an organic supplier, does PRONATEC welcome this push? It depends, we were told.

On the main one hand it creates our business more technical and several customers find it hard to know and measure the difference between your various labelling standards. However, we welcome the trend towards stricter labels, because they help promote higher environmental and social standards and, in this manner, better protect nature and support small farmers.

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