Cocoa reporting, II

I’ve already written too much about cocoa on this blog, but hey, this is the world’s biggest cocoa producer. On Sunday in the television news here a report was broadcast showing the head of the Switzerland-based chocolate maker, Barry Callebaut, visiting the Minister of Agriculture and announcing the expansion by 70,000 tons of their cocoa processing factory in the port of San Pedro. Surely, good news to increase Ivorian cocoa processing capacity so another 5% of the total crop can be transformed into semi-finished products like cocoa liquor, butter and powder, and give another push to help the country become the world’s primary processor of cocoa?

The following day, not a single newspaper had the story. The day after, one newspaper had the story in the ‘news in brief’ section – the article had just a couple of sentences talking about the construction of a ‘chocolate factory’. To find out more, we contacted the Ministry of Agriculture. The communication director said “this is the first I’ve heard about this – I wasn’t aware of the visit” (with his own minister).

All slightly concerning given the importance of cocoa here, the debate around industrialisation in Africa and the importance of Barry Callebaut (the world’s biggest chocolate maker, and perhaps a company that deserves to be a household name in this country for its importance to the economy).

Not to worry, there was a second chance to cover the story yesterday when the Barry Callebaut chief executive paid a visit to the president. The presidential communications team called the company ‘Barry’ in their official notifications to journalists, while the cluster of press at the palace tried to work out how to write Callebaut and generally wondered what on earth the company did (note – it’s the third biggest exporter of Ivorian cocoa).

This morning I open the newspapers to find the following headline at the bottom of page 5 in the Nouveau Courrier “Alassane Ouattara receives a visit from Italian businessmen”. Intrigued I read on, to find that the short article concerns Barry Callebaut (Swiss) and their chief executive Juergen Steinemann (certainly not Italian).

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