Cocoa production and consumption

Driven by global demand, the increase in areas dedicated to cocoa production has been particularly strong since the 1970s: from 4 to more than 10 million hectares (source IDDRI). At least half of this expansion has been at the expense of natural forests (Kroeger et al., 2017).

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Image representing cocoa.

Worldwide, cocoa farming has increased from more than 4.4 million hectares in the early 1960s to more than 11.8 million hectares in 2018, for a production of more than 5.2 million tonnes of beans. of cocoa.

On average over the period 1994-2018, the African continent produced 67.1% of world cocoa production, Asia 16.8%, Latin America 14.9% and Oceania 1.2%. In 2017, the top five producing countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon) represented 84% of the world’s cocoa areas (Faostat). Côte d’Ivoire accounts for 37% of cocoa plantations, followed by Indonesia and Ghana. In volume, Côte d’Ivoire represents a production of more than 2 million tonnes, followed by Ghana and Indonesia. In 2017, 10 countries concentrated 94% of world production.

The Netherlands, the United States, Germany, Malaysia, Belgium and Indonesia are the six largest importers of cocoa beans.

Cocoa and France

France is the world’s seventh largest importer of cocoa beans to manufacture a whole range of chocolate products for its domestic consumption and for export. The French chocolate sector also imports cocoa butter, cocoa paste and powders. These products as well as the beans come mainly from West Africa (Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana) and to a lesser extent from Latin America.

The industrial production of chocolate and chocolate products involves many stages from the harvesting of the pods to the packaging of the finished products, involving various actors from upstream to downstream in the sector.

According to the Syndicat du chocolat, the French chocolate sector represents 115 companies, 90% of which are small and medium-sized companies. It employs more than 30,000 people, including 15,850 in industrial production.


Today, the two main sustainability labels used in the cocoa sector are Rainforest Alliance (resulting from the UTZ-Rainforest Alliance merger) and the fair trade label Fairtrade. The particularity of the cocoa sector is to now have an ISO international standard for sustainable and traceable cocoa, the first of its kind for agricultural products, but which is causing debate in West Africa where workshops are underway. for the creation of a specific sub-regional standard. In France, other fair trade labels are present on the French market such as the Fair for life label, the Symbol of Peasant Producers (SPP) or the label of the World Fair Trade Organization WFTO.

However, existing certifications do not yet take into account the objective of zero deforestation (CIRAD).

The French Development Agency (AFD) and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) are working to study the issues and questions surrounding cocoa and its relationship to forests and biodiversity. The IDDRI recalls in particular that the biodiversity within a cocoa plot is not comparable with the biodiversity of a natural forest. Cultivating cocoa in agroforestry therefore does not compensate for deforestation. Find the IDDRI study here .

To find out more: Cocoa certification and the fight against deforestation (CIRAD study report for AFD’s Scientific and Technical Forest Committee, February 2021)

460,000 tons
of cocoa imported by France each year

115 companies
in the production of chocolate in France

6 million
people grow cocoa worldwide