Support from Ülker to cocoa growers in the Ivory Coast

Support from Ülker to cocoa growers in the Ivory Coast

“Children tell the truth,” we used to say. Nowadays, we should say, “Twitter has the truth.”

Twitter has turned into a significant source of news for many of us. The boss of Yıldız Holding, which also includes Ülker Chocolates, Murat Ülker, who I follow on Twitter, posted this tweet the other day: “In 2014, we will be setting up sample farms in the Ivory Coast to support the cocoa farmers.”

You would ask, “where is Turkey and where is the Ivory Coast?” One should not be surprised Yıldız Holding, which has become the 12th company in the world in the field of chocolate and candy, is supporting sustainable cocoa production, because cocoa is the most important raw material for Ülker chocolates.

Murat Ülker will be able to reach cocoa producers in the Ivory Coast through Processor Alliance for Cocoa Traceability and Sustainability (PACTS). This alliance was founded by two French chocolate producers aiming to have an environmentally friendly cocoa production in the Ivory Coast, as well as improve the living and working conditions of the cocoa farmers.

Well, in which field will Murat Ülker’s investment be used in the Ivory Coast?

Drinking water will be provided to cocoa farms and there will be solar panels set up for illumination.
Ülker is a Turkey-based company that bought the famous Belgian brand Godiva in 2007 and became an international player.

No doubt, it is the result of globalization that a brand from Turkey is supporting the poor cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast.

The topic of “food safety” was one of the most frequently discussed subjects in Davos at the World Economic Forum this year. In every sector, a shortage of raw material is at the door and global players such as Ülker may have to secure their raw material.

While Ülker is reaching out to the Ivory Coast, another global brand of a much larger scale, Lipton of Unilever is lending a hand to the tea producers at the Black Sea coasts. I remember listening to the “sustainable tea cultivation” project from Mustafa Seçkin, the Vice President of Unilever Food Marketing, in an unforgettable trip we took to the Black Sea region, including the Ayder Valley.

Cooperating with the Eastern Black Sea Development Agency (DOKA), Lipton is aiming to train more than 15 thousand tea growers, as well as improve their working and social conditions.

I don’t know about cocoa in the Ivory Coast, but tea is a significant part of our culture. Turkey is the fifth largest tea producer in the world. We are the first in the world as consumers. According to data, 96 percent of the population absolutely starts the day with tea and ends the day with tea.

However, according to experts, the tea plant that was cultivated in the Black Sea coasts at the first years of the Republican Era has expired 75 percent of its economic life. The life of the tea plant is accepted to be 100 years. Thus, also according to the experts, the future of Turkish tea is at risk.

As Mustafa Seçkin has pointed out, while Lipton is conducting the “sustainable tea cultivation” project, it is no doubt securing the future of Turkish tea for the next generations. But, on the other hand, it is also safeguarding its own raw material by taking into consideration the tea drinking potential in Turkey.

I wouldn’t say anything to global players securing themselves if it would change the lives of poor growers.