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Brazil's Chocolate Surge: Pioneering the New Era of Sustainable Cocoa Production


Michael Chen

April 7, 2024 - 15:04 pm


Brazil's Cocoa Revolution: A Leap Toward Sustainability and Increased Production

In an ambitious push spearheaded by the agricultural powerhouse of Brazil, a notable transformation is taking shape in the cocoa production industry. The grounds that once echoed with the traditional labor of manually harvesting cocoa are now witnessing an automated revolution—a train-like machine weaves through the idyllic plantations, efficiently husking ripe cocoa pods and signaling a dramatic modernization of the industry.

Innovative Harvesting Machinery Paves the Way for Modern Cocoa Production

This agricultural leap, part of Brazil's wider strategy to revitalize its cocoa sector, stands as a beacon of progress against a backdrop of severe bean shortages that have plagued top-grower regions in West Africa. As Brazil steps up to address these global market deficits, the world is taking note of the nation's significant potential to reshape the cocoa landscape with its advanced agricultural techniques and financial capability to fuel new cultivation ventures.

Priced to Perfection: Cocoa's Valuable Surge

Cocoa prices have skyrocketed to unprecedented heights, more than doubling in this fiscal year alone. This staggering increase is attributed to a cocktail of adverse weather conditions, widespread disease, and persistent structural challenges that have crippled supply chains from pivotal producing countries like the Ivory Coast and Ghana. The consequence of such turmoil is a stark reality where low remuneration hampers farmers from investing in their fields, thus suppressing the potential yields of cocoa trees.

The Awakening of Brazil's Sleeping Giant

Despite its currently modest contribution of less than 5% to global cocoa supplies, Brazil's imprint on the cocoa industry was once far more pronounced. However, the decimation of its crops in the 1980s by the destructive witches' broom disease cast a long shadow over its status as a prominent supplier. Today, the tides are turning, and the winds of change are palpable. The main television channel in Brazil is even bringing a 1990s telenovela about cocoa farmers back to life, further underlining the country's commitment to reigniting its passion for cocoa cultivation.

The national cocoa commission, Ceplac, has charted a course to double the country's cocoa output to over 440,000 tons annually by the end of this decade. Achieving such a milestone could position Brazil among the leading cocoa producers, potentially eclipsing other established producers like Nigeria and Cameroon.

A New Dawn for Cocoa Cultivation

Gone are the days when Brazil's cocoa harvesting was confined to the shaded, humid pockets beneath towering native trees. The advent of new machinery, capable of thriving in open, sunlit fields, has effectively expanded the boundaries of viable cocoa farming terrain. This forward-thinking approach has seamlessly integrated enhanced irrigation systems, increased use of fertilizers and pesticides, and the cultivation of robust tree seedlings engineered to withstand exposure to the elements.

Farmers collaborating with this avant-garde methodology report soaring productivity levels, achieving up to 3,000 kilograms per hectare—a striking contrast to the national average of 491 kilograms per hectare. The adoption of widespread irrigation techniques mirrors the agricultural expansion that propelled Brazil to the forefront as a significant exporter of staple crops like soybeans and corn.

The Birth of a New Cocoa Industry Paradigm

The transition within Brazil's cocoa industry has not gone unnoticed. New investors and agriculturists, lured by the prospect of lucrative returns, are eagerly exploring this burgeoning sector. With a discerning business acumen and a culture of productivity, they are harnessing technological advancements to maximize the efficiency of their cocoa operations.

Agricultural conglomerate Agrícola DM4, nestled in the southern state of Bahia, has deployed the novel train-like harvesting machinery to optimize cost-effectiveness on its farms. Besides cultivating cocoa, pepper, and coffee, the group attests to cocoa's rapidly growing profitability given its ascending price trajectory.

Fernando De Martins, CEO of Agrícola DM4, shared his observations on the trend: "Producers are inspired to expand their cocoa planting endeavors. The current cocoa price level has shifted, and we're unlikely to witness a downturn in the coming years."

Read more about the dynamics of cocoa pricing and its implications for consumers in the comprehensive Bloomberg report:Why Cocoa Prices Spiked, What It Means for Consumers.

Global Conglomerates Eye Brazil's Cocoa Prospects

Even global food and beverage titan PepsiCo Inc. has expressed optimism about Brazil's cocoa potential. The company, which utilizes cocoa in its popular instant chocolate drink sold throughout Brazil, reported promising results after testing cocoa plantations alongside coconut trees in some of the nation's driest regions. The resilience of the cocoa plants has surpassed expert expectations, and PepsiCo now contemplates a major expansion to approximately 450 hectares (1,112 acres) in one of its owned farms and possibly integrating cocoa cultivation with farms that supply the company with coconut water.

A similar positive outcome was observed at Schmidt Agricola, which entered into a partnership with Cargill two years prior to cultivate new cocoa farming techniques. According to Laerte Moraes, managing director for Cargill Inc.'s South American food ingredients unit, the collaboration has borne fruitful results, literally, with an exceptional amount of cocoa fruit flourishing on the trees.

These new horizons of cocoa farming are starting to draw significant international interest as stakeholders in the global markets search tirelessly for alternative sources of cocoa. Brazil, with its groundbreaking agricultural methods and increasingly fertile grounds, has suddenly become the center of global discourse.

"It's clear that Brazil has become the talk of the town," De Martins remarked, reflecting on the country's rising prominence within the global cocoa economy.

Partnering for Future Success

Cargill, a leading trading company, is at the forefront of Brazil's innovation in cocoa production, cooperating with new technology to expand cocoa cultivation into non-traditional regions. Following a successful agreement with farmers in the Cerrado savanna region, Cargill is advancing discussions with chocolate manufacturers to forge partnerships that will usher in the next phase of cocoa investment in Brazil.

These initiatives symbolize a transformative era for Brazil's cocoa industry, one that aligns with sustainable practices and promises to enhance the socioeconomic fabric of cocoa farming communities. The targeted investment in these advanced capabilities is setting the stage for a resurgence of Brazil's status as a major player in the global cocoa supply chain.


As Brazil continues to reassert itself in the cocoa industry, its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and increased production could not only catalyze a domestic resurgence but also provide a much-needed boon to the international cocoa market. With powerful allies like Cargill and PepsiCo leading the charge and incentivizing change, Brazil's chocolate revolution may well be a tasty precursor to a more balanced and resilient global cocoa ecosystem.

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