The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Mr Yofi Grant, has said that Ghana was more than capable of scaling up investment in chocolate production with the right marketing tools, policies and strategies.
"There are opportunities in the chocolate business, and investing in it should be intentional as well,” he said.
"A lot of things can be done with cocoa and chocolate, and it is time we moved from just producing cocoa beans to processing and value addition,” he added.
At a public forum in Accra jointly organised by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) on the business side of chocolate with the aim of sustaining interest in cocoa consumption, Mr Grant noted that it was time policy makers made deliberate efforts to add the consumption of chocolate to their initiatives.
Among other things, the event also looked at how to woo investors and create employment opportunities in the value chain.
Dubbed: “The Chocolatarium”, the forum was in partnership with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Ghana Exim Bank, the Ghana Cares Obaatanpa programme, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), the Ghana Tourism Federation, the Cocoa Value Addition Artisans Association of Ghana, and the Ghana Enterprises Association, among others.
Mentioning the school feeding policy as an example, he said: “The government feeds a lot of children under the policy, so imagine if it adds a bar of chocolate or chocolate beverage to the meals given to the children, the number of children who will consume this and the effect on the chocolate consumption rates in Ghana will be amazing“.
He indicated that chocolate had moved from being a commodity for those with sweet tooth to a healthy meal, “and I believe we can also make it an entire economy on its own”.
The CEO of GTA, Mr Akwasi Agyeman, said even though chocolate was a major product that came to mind whenever cocoa was mentioned, there were other uses of cocoa which could be equally lucrative.
“Cocoa can be used for cosmetic products, drinks, soap, etc. It is when we put value on these things that we will start noticing how blessed we are as a nation,'' he said.
He noted that people consumed a lot of cocoa products during Valentine’s Day or in the month of February, and after that sales went down, “but that should not be the case”.
During a panel discussion, stakeholders shared challenges in cocoa processing and how to overcome them.
Some of the concerns raised were with funds, machinery to process the raw material into finished goods, accessibility to the cocoa beans, increase in prices, and taxation.
An appeal was made to the people in authority to help in the promotion of the consumption of chocolate products by supporting initiatives.
A Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr John Ampontuah Kumah, said the government was ready to support the sector to overcome its challenges.
He congratulated the organisers of the forum on taking steps to make the production and processing of chocolate products appealing not only in the country but in the world as a whole.