Chairman’s Message

Dear Members,

The Cocoa Association of Asia held its Annual General Meeting today in Singapore and it turned out to be quite an exciting day for us. Aside from announcing yet another record Q1 CAA Grind result we also reviewed all of the exciting projects that we have in the works for the rest of 2019 and finished the day with our annual CAA Cocktail Party!

The cocoa market in Asia has never been more exciting and CAA is right in the middle of all the action. Today we announced another very strong CAA Grind result, with Q1:2019 showing an increase of 9.5% over the same quarter a year ago. Demand in the region remains robust for cocoa ingredients with all segments in our diverse market growing steadily.

Whether you look at chocolate confectionery or bakery or drinks applications, there are new products hitting the store shelves or showing up in cafes all over the region. Curious, and increasingly wealthy, customers are quick to try all these new products, eager to spot the newest trend and share photos on social media of their most recent fabulous dessert.

What is particularly exciting for The Cocoa Association of Asia is that our member organizations are at the heart of all this growth, helping to supply the cocoa beans, the cocoa ingredients and make the chocolate to meet the customers’needs. CAA is on a mission to become as dynamic as the markets we are serving and therefore we have a full slate of new initiatives getting ready to roll out in the coming months.

The CAA Cocoa Academy is one such initiative. CAA is collaborating with Singapore Management University (SMU) to develop the most comprehensive Intro to Cocoa course ever offered in Asia. We are putting the finishing touches on the curriculum and will soon open up registration to all Members and non-Members for the September course.

And although it might sound a bit early to start getting excited about, we want to announce that the 2nd CAA International Cocoa Conference & Dinner has already been confirmed for March 2020! It will be hard to top the great Conference that we hosted back in 2017 but the organizing team is already hard at work to make sure we have another success.

So lots of exciting news in the Asian cocoa markets and lots of exciting events on the horizon for CAA. 2019 is quickly shaping up to be our greatest year ever. If you want to get in on the action please send us an email and we can explain all the great reasons for becoming a CAA Regular Member or Associate Member.

Richard Fahey

Date Posted: 17th April 2019

Past Messages

20th April 2018

Dear Members,
2018 is already shaping up to be another exciting year in the cocoa markets. Grind numbers around the world indicate that activity is on the rise and the recent rally of the cocoa futures suggest that demand for cocoa ingredients is starting to once again outpace supply.

In Asia, the outlook continues to look positive for both cocoa ingredients producers as well as the end users for these products. Cocoa grind numbers for Q1-2018 once again showed strong year-on-year increases at 7.21%. Asian cocoa grinders are seeing strong demand for their products both within Asia as well as from consuming countries around the world. And despite the lack of cocoa beans originating in Asia, the local factories have been proactive sourcing in raw materials from Africa and South America to feed their growth.

On the consuming side, the outlook is equally upbeat. Chocolate confectionery sales are increasing faster in Asia than anywhere else in the world. The multitude of regional cultures and tastes are driving innovations and new products that are rapidly making their way across borders as the emerging middle classes travel more frequently and bring back their favorite cocoa and chocolate products as gifts when they return. And the large multinationals are quite aware of this trend as some of the most novel innovations in all of chocolate are being launched first in Asia!

And in the center of all this cocoa excitement is the Cocoa Association of Asia. Much like the rapidly evolving marketplace surrounding us, CAA is also growing fast and expanding its role as the leading cocoa association in the region. In 2017 we successfully hosted our first International Cocoa Conference and dinner which drew over 400 attendees from around the world. In 2018 our focus will be on building stronger partnerships both with sister organizations in other regions as well as with leading private and public institutions at home in Asia. We are revamping our website to better reflect the energy of our organization and will be gradually introducing new services and offerings for our member companies and the industry as a whole.

So please join us, literally, as we continue our journey. We are actively looking to recruit new companies to expand our membership base. If you are curious about what is going on in the world of Asia cocoa, or are looking to expand your contacts in the region, there is no better place to start. Send us a message or give us a call and we will gladly explain all the benefits of joining the leading cocoa organization in Asia!

Richard Fahey

26th January 2016

Dear Members,
2016 is upon us and the outlook for the cocoa and chocolate industries remains full of challenges and opportunity. The phenomenal economic growth that has marked the recent years in Asia-Pacific might be slowing a bit, however we continue to see the demand for cocoa ingredients in our region growing at very healthy rates.

The Cocoa Association of Asia (CAA) likewise is continuing to mature and yet grow at the same time – adding new members, launching new initiatives, and solidifying its position as the leading industry group in the region.

We have some exciting things coming up this year. We will be holding our first ever Cocoa Association of Asia Golf & Dinner event on March 4, 2016 in Singapore. This should prove to be a lively day and evening of discussions, friendly competition, and a chance for the industry to come together and share visions of where we are all heading. We will have some interesting guest speakers joining us for the dinner and there will be lots of time to meet new faces and catch up with old friends. We hope you will join us for this event which will surely become an annual tradition.

The cocoa landscape is constantly evolving and Asia in particular has witnessed quite a few changes over the past years. Cocoa processing assets have grown rapidly, particularly in Indonesia, even as cocoa bean supply in Asian origins has started to decline. The need for sustainable sourcing models is more important than ever and the Cocoa Association of Asia’s members continue to take the lead in finding ways to improve farmer incomes and pave the way for the next generation of cocoa farmers. There is still much work to be done.

We also continue to face new and often complex regulatory changes throughout the region. The CAA provides a forum for members to both learn about the impact of these changes and also create alignment so that we can speak with one voice on these important topics.

It is an exciting time for the cocoa and chocolate industries in Asia and The Cocoa Association of Asia will continue to evolve along with the broader market. Please join us on this journey to help make sure our industry remains vibrant and healthy for years to come.

Richard Fahey

3rd May 2013

Dear Members,
This is my first year chairing the association. I am honoured to be nominated and would like to take the opportunity to thank the previous chairman Mr Yeong Chye, in spearheading our efforts to promote interactions amongst all those involved in the cocoa trade in Asia. With the full support of our members I believe that we will continue to progress and promote the interest of Asia Cocoa Community.

Last year saw a sharp decline in soft commodity prices from the previous year high and cocoa bean prices were inevitably affected. However, prices have since recovered from the low and have shown signs of recovery recently. Thus, I am optimistic that stable bean prices will potentially lend support to production and boost our sustainability effort.

As part of the on-going effort to a sustainable cocoa development in the region, members continue to support and sponsor the cocoa project in Vietnam. Members visited Vietnam twice and the project is showing progress.

On the product front, butter ratio has dropped to a low of 0.8 times LIFFE and subsequently enjoyed a strong re-bounce to a high of 2 times LIFFE. However, solid prices have continued its down trend and there is no visible sign of recovery till date. Together with the expansion of processing capacity in Indonesia placed immense pressure on the conversion margin.

These developments not only presented the cocoa industry with many challenges but at the same time it also created opportunities for growth and consolidation.

Next, it is encouraging to note that grind figures published by us have received positive feedback and generated much worldwide interest. I am also glad to have the opportunity to welcome CCAJ as our new reciprocal member and trust that having them on-board will further our association leading position in representing the cocoa community in Asia.

I would like to thank you in advance for the unwavering support and involvement; together we will scale greater heights.

Yours sincerely,
Brandon Tay

7th May 2012

Dear Members,
The cocoa industry went through some turbulent times in the last two years. Over the course of the two years we saw 1) upheaval in the Ivory Coast’s political situation, resulting in the change of government, and 2) the dispute in port surcharges in Ghana between the exporters and the shipping lines. These two events caused serious disruptions in the cocoa supply chain. Fortunately, the political situation in the Ivory Coast and the dispute in Ghana have been resolved and the situation has returned to normal.

To enhance the earnings of the cocoa farmers and promote a sustainable crop development, the Ivory Coast government has, since the early part of 2012, introduced a cocoa reform and created a new regulator – Cocoa & Coffee Council. This reform scheme is quite similar to the one used by the Ghana Cocoa Board. The Cocoa & Coffee Council sets a guaranteed price for the farmers as well as the export price of cocoa. The liberalized system involves the forward selling of the cocoa crop in advance. However, questions are still being raised about whether the scheme will work as many see flaws in the pricing mechanism. This has caused much anxiety among the cocoa trade.

The cocoa export tax in Indonesia has attracted more downstream investments and boosted the local grind by about 80 percent from about 120,000 MT in 2010 to about 215,000 MT in 2011. On the other hand, it has also caused a significant decline in cocoa exported and a scale down of the trading activities within the industry.

To boost cocoa development and production, the Indonesia government introduced the GERNAS program in 2009. The scheme helps cocoa farmers to rehabilitate old plantings and poor yielding farms. The target of this program is to rehabilitate about 70,000 hectares per annum. To see the progress, a field trip was organized for our members to visit the cocoa farms under this GERNAS program in Palu Sulawesi. Based on our observations, the effort put in was not wasted as we saw quite some progress being made. As a consequence of this, the overall cocoa production has started to recover slightly, with more new plantings coming to maturity. This positive result has prompted the Indonesia government to announce that it will extend the program by another 3 years to 2015.

As part of the effort to boost a sustainable cocoa development in the region, we also organized a field trip to visit cocoa farms in Davao, Philippines and Vietnam with the aim to promote cocoa development in these countries. It was good to see the efforts by the respective local governments to encourage farmers to cultivate cocoa.

In Vietnam, we agreed to sponsor a three-year farmer training program in good agricultural practices. This program is in partnership with the Nam Long University of Vietnam under the leadership of Dr. Phuoc to train field facilitators who will in turn educate farmers on good agricultural practices. The total cost of the three year program is about US$100,000. We conducted a review of the project in February this year. I am happy to report that we saw positive impact on some of the cocoa farms we visited with better yield and farm practices. However, more work and resources are needed to make it a success. Competing corps like Pepper, Rubber, coffee, etc which provided a better returns to the farmers continue to tamper the growth of cocoa based on the prevailing prices. In the meantime, I wish to thank all members who are participating in funding the project.

Turning to cocoa and chocolate consumption, following the global financial meltdown in 2008/2009, the world economy has made a gradual recovery with developing countries in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe leading the way with strong economic and consumption growth. The strong consumption growth in these developing countries has more than made up for the weak consumers spending in the developed countries in Europe and in the U.S.

Despite the current sovereign debt issue in EU, consumption in developing countries remains buoyant as the current high commodities prices will continue to spur consumer spending on rising income and provide a better living standard, especially those in the developing countries. This bodes well for the cocoa industry.

On the association’s activities, we conducted training workshops, both in Makassar as well as Singapore, on the Market and Arbitration Rules & Procedures for the Cocoa Contract. The turnout for both events was very good. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we have yet to officially launch the Cocoa Contract. The in-coming Council is expected to look into this.

With the cooperation of all our members of the grinding industry and the help of International Enterprise (IE) of Singapore, we have started compiling cocoa grinding statistics for Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia from the beginning of 2011. The grind figures are published in the association’s website every quarter. Please do look out for it.

My tenure as chairman of the Council for the last 8 years has been rewarding and at times challenging. I have been asked to stay on. I thank the Council and members for the confidence you had in me. However, given my work commitments, time has come for someone new to take over the leadership. Please continue to provide your support to the new incoming Council members.

Yeong Chye