(NaturalNews) Sustainable cocoa is needed now more than ever as demand increases in Western countries to fuel the ever-growing love for chocolate products. As a result of this growing demand, chocolate companies are about to unite with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) to support sustainable cocoa production in West Africa. By doing this, the supply chain to Western manufacturers will be strengthened at a time when it is needed most.
The collaboration has a goal to assist 150,000 farmers and their families over the next five years with financing from the U.S. Agency for International Development, in addition to help from chocolate industry heavy-hitters Hershey, Cadbury and Mars International.
Growth in the trade of cocoa products has caused a recent emphasis by cocoa producers and manufacturers on safeguarding the welfare of cocoa farmers to ensure that environmentally friendly production methods are used in the harvesting and overall handling of the product, which ends up in millions of candy bars and chocolate products.
The World Cocoa Foundation president said "Industry-supported programs providing education, information and support for sustainable agriculture already are forming the foundation for stronger more prosperous cocoa farm families and communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas," in response to the new partnership formed between the WCF and major chocolate companies.
In a separate initiative outside the WCF partnership, cocoa growers in Africa will also receive business training to assist them in organizing into cocoa selling co-operatives, which will provide support for the marketing of their cocoa crops.
In an industry poll carried out by a leading grocery industry consumer magazine, 71 percent of retailers said they planned to increase the number of ethically sourced products within the next year. With this recent WCF partnership, the larger chocolate companies will be perfectly positioned to nurture their relationships with retailers across the nation and the world -- a market worth $75 billion annually.