“From Bean to Bar” in Vietnam, a new initiative to promote circular economy approaches in cocoa value chains

September 16, 2022 16/09/2022 - 16/09/2022 Offline Vietnamese and English Address: Ha Noi

Hanoi – In September 16th, 2022, HELVETAS Vietnam and the Center for Community Development (CDC) jointly organize the launching workshop for Project “Circular economy cocoa: From Bean to Bar”, funded by the European Union under the SWITCH-Asia programme to support the transition of Asian countries to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, and circular economy toward the goals of sustainable production and consumption,

Cocoa farming in Vietnam has a history of instability, with the most recent planting boom peaking at 25,000 hectares in 2012, much of which was cut before bearing fruit as farmers shifted to pepper and fruit production. Production volumes have since stabilized, with about 5,000 tons of cocoa beans produced in 2020.. With a high-quality product and growing internal and regional markets, Vietnam-based companies are increasingly processing cocoa into value-added products for local markets and regional trade.

The overall objective is to uptake a circular economy in the agri-food sector and policies of Vietnam leads to equitable economic growth decoupled from harmful environmental impacts. Specifically, the Project will support the transition of the cocoa/chocolate subsector to regenerative and circular economy approaches at key points of the product lifecycle and leverage change in the cocoa subsector to the wider agri-food sectors. The Project targets 3,500 cocoa producers, ranging from smallholders to larger corporate farms, as final beneficiaries. Cocoa farmers and processing companies are expected to have higher income through the application of new farming practices toward regenerative agriculture, while cocoa processing companies will be benefited from the transition to the circular economy business model.

The Project will deal with numerous issues facing the Vietnamese cocoa and wider agri-food sectors. These include phasing out the use of hazardous chemicals in production, reducing the resource intensiveness of production and processing, introducing environmentally friendly bio-based packaging, and recirculating cocoa waste products as energy sources and raw material for agricultural inputs and packaging. Digitalization of traceability will also contribute to growth of efficient, environmentally sound cocoa supply chains.

The Project will be implemented by HELVETAS Vietnam and CDC within the period 2022-2026 initially in Central Highland and Mekong Delta provinces. This is the first time that the EU is granting a support to Vietnam in the theme of circular economy for agricultural sector. Total budget of the Project is EUR 1.93 million, in which 80% is financing by the EU and 20% by Helvetas Intercooperation gGmbH.

Ms. Kristina Buende, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Vietnam, stated: “We expect that this project will present a good example for Vietnam to show progress towards a more sustainable agri-food sector by engaging relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, service providers and consumer groups, as well as financial institutions and policy-makers to achieve the transition to low-carbon, resource-efficient and more circular value chains”.

The launching workshop, with representatives of the EU Delegation in Vietnam, MARD, MONRE, key cocoa processing enterprises, and other relevant stakeholders, aims to introduce the Project design, share the updates on circular economy as well as seek for partnerships in the cocoa industry and other agri-food sectors.