A delicious piece of chocolate cake, chocolate bar, muffin and a box of chocolates, most people cannot get enough of this brown (or white) gold. In Switzerland, most chocolate is consumed per person, but in the Netherlands we also eat an average of 5 kilos of chocolate per year. And did you know that the Netherlands is the number 1 importer of cocoa beans with an import value of 2.1 billion euros and an import quantity of 1.1 billion kilograms? Importing cocoa beans is not always without a struggle. A large part of cocoa imports is still being wasted due to damage that has occurred in the logistics process.
The Netherlands number 1 cocoa importer
Imports of cocoa beans have doubled to 1.1 billion kilograms in a decade, according to figures from the CBS. About a quarter of this import is immediately resold to other countries. Three-quarters of this are intended fort he Dutch cocoa processing industry, for example for producing chocolate, but also for semifinished products such as cocoa powder and butter, which are subsequently used to make chocolate in Belgium or Switzerland.
Port of Amsterdam the largest cocoa port in the world
The Port of Amsterdam is the largest port in the world for the import of cocoa beans. All facilities, from transhipment to production facilities, are available in the region. There are also more than 750,000 tons of cocoa stored in warehouses in Amsterdam, with an average storage time of three to five years.
Cocoa imports to Europe have a peak between November and March. There are not many cocoa ports in the world. The largest is the Port of Amsterdam, and Antwerp and Hamburg also have relatively large cocoa ports.
Sustainablility in the cocoa chain is becoming increasingly important
Sustainability is increasing in the cocoa chain. We see that, among other things, in making the production conditions at the cocoa farmers themselves more sustainable. However, sustainability also means that as few cocoa beans as possible are lost in the cocoa chain. The logistical process surrounding the import or export of cocoa is not without risk. Cocoa beans are mainly transported by cargo ship as bulk or in bales in the ship’s hold, or jut bags in a sea container. From warm Africa to the relatively cold Netherlands, various risks must be taken into account, such as temperature differences, moisture and insects brought from the country of origin. Due to the differences in temperature, condensation can form in the ship’s hold or the sea container. Moisture then causes mould formation on the cocoa beans so that they can no longer be used. Since cocoa is an expensive product, waste of it is a loss in al respects. But can this be prevented?
Protection of cocoa beans during transport
Yes, this is preventable. Waste of cocoa in the logistics chain is not necessary. By applying for the correct protection during (sea) transport, moisture no longer has a chance so that mould does not form. When cocoa beans in jute bags are transported by sea container, a container pack is often used. With this the inside of a container (without loss of space) is wholly packed with insulating material, creating the ideal climate. The temperature remains stable, and the chance of condensation is nil. Desiccants are used, whereby any moisture from the cocoa beans or, for example, pallets or packaging material is still absorbed. As a check, data recorders are placed that monitor temperature and humidity during transport.
Less waste, more cocoa
Cocoa beans are of great value as a raw material for chocolate, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. We do not want to waste this value. We aim to make the chain of cocoa beans more sustainable by reducing waste as much as possible. And even though we are well aware that the logistical processes for cocoa products can be very challenging, with the right knowledge and resources to protect the cocoa beans during transport, waste can easily be prevented.