Esoko and the Chocolate Factory

prestatThe UK’s premiere chocolatier, Prestat, is committed to trading fairly. So what does that mean in practice? They’re currently funding a partnership between Cocoa Abrabopa and Esoko in Ghana, sending SMS messages to 1,000 cocoa farmers with market prices, weather forecasts and agricultural advice. Here, Prestat’s co-owner shares his thoughts on the intervention and the industry after a recent visit.

"Prestat Bill" with Ben Gyan Kesse from Cocoa Abrabopa and Doris from CSIR.

“Prestat Bill” with Ben Gyan Kesse from Cocoa Abrabopa and Doris from CSIR.

I’m Bill Keeling and I am the co-owner of Prestat which is a 112 year old chocolate company. Prestat is based in London and its founding family created the chocolate truffle. A lot has changed in the chocolate world in the last century but an awful lot has not. Cocoa continues to be grown mostly by smallholder subsistence farmers in West Africa and I visited Ghana to see if changes in supply chain management and information technology – as pioneered by Esoko – can result in improved farmer incomes.

I see the challenge as transforming subsistence farms into sustainable businesses. If successful, we can take pleasure not only in chocolate as a food but in the way it connects people from rainforest cocoa farmers to consumers in London, New York and Tokyo.

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