Gerard Manley highlights the challenges and the potential of the cocoa sector at the seminal ‘West meets East’ FCC Cocoa Dinner
At one of the most significant events of the cocoa industry calendar, the Federation of Cocoa Commerce (FCC) Cocoa Dinner on Friday 15th May, Olam’s Managing Director of Cocoa, Gerard Manley focused his final speech as the outgoing Chair on the supply potential of Africa and consumption promise of Asia, while shining a spotlight on issues of malnutrition, soil degradation and sustainable land management in smallholder production.
The FCC was established in 1935 to serve the growing trade in physical cocoa. Throughout his three year tenure as Chair, Gerard has drawn on his 30 years’ experience in the cocoa sector to support the FCC’s Board of Directors in achieving their major aim of promoting, protecting and regulating the trade in cocoa beans and cocoa products, as well as supporting and safeguarding the status and interests of its members.
Addressing attendees including the Vice Presidents of Ghana and Indonesia, Gerard outlined cocoa’s history from first going on sale in London’s Bishopsgate in 1657 to the valuable global commodity it is today. However, the industry is not without its challenges with smallholders at risk from malnutrition while soil degradation impacts not only cocoa yields but the surrounding landscape. The audience was reminded that “everyone in this room has a duty to ensure that the cocoa industry plays its part in being a steward of the land. Making sure that we get maximum productivity from every established plot.”
Gerard’s closing theme was the need for collaboration within the cocoa industry: “I strongly believe that an inclusive Federation is essential for a stronger cocoa market”, however he also called for the industry “to share knowledge not just with each other but across the wider agri-supply chains”. He continued, “Working together, I believe our challenge is to maintain and develop a traceable and sustainable supply chain that meets the aspirations of consumers, while acknowledging the complexity of working with many smallholder farmers.”
Gerard Manley will continue to be dedicated to the challenge of maintaining and developing traceable and sustainable supply chains across the cocoa industry through his role at Olam. Gerry is a member of Olam’s Executive Committee and is Executive Chairman of the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability function of the group, as well as a member of a the company’s Strategy and Risk Committee. He has oversight on Olam’s European operations and the Sugar and Speciality Fats business. Gerry is also a Board member of the European Cocoa Association and has previously served on the boards of the London Cocoa Terminal Association, the Cocoa Association of Asia and the World Cocoa Foundation.