Current State of Cacao In Indonesia

Current State of Cacao In Indonesia

On our last blog we briefly covered the origins of cacao in Indonesia. Where it came from, how it got here and how it adapted to our country. This time, we’ll be covering the present and the bright future awaiting indonesian cacao!

Indonesian Cacao at Risk

Cocoa Beans © World Agroforestery

In recent years, cacao production in Indonesia has actually declined. We went from 3rd to 6th worldwide in terms of quantity of export, this might come as a shocker as many old articles predicted Indonesia to become the number one global exporter of cocoa beans by 2020. There are two main reasons for this steep decline: aging trees combined with the improper and insufficient mentoring provided to the farmers and the government mass culling cacao in favour of palm and sugar. As mentioned in the last blog post, the 1980s saw huge numbers of cacao plants planted in hopes of sparking new commerce and giving people new jobs. The problem is that the government gave all these farmers cacao but didn’t properly teach and educate them as to how to properly cultivate, harvest and treat these delicate plants. Only in recent years with the help of NGO’s, sprouting cooperatives and chocolate companies did progress start. To put things into perspective, 94% of Indonesia’s cacao plantations are owned by smallholder farmers scattered all across the archipelago. Now onto the environment’s biggest sinner, palm oil. The palm oil market is currently valued at $67 Billion and is forecasted to reach $100 Billion in 2030. This has caused mass global deforestation all across the world as big corporations are running at the chance to make big profits at the cost of our environment. Cacao plantations, among many other crops and even entire forests have been sidelined in favour of huge monoculture palm plantations. As mentioned earlier, most of the cacao plantations in Indonesia are small time farmers with limited funds, so big palm companies have ridiculous leverage over them easily buying them out. 

Indonesia Cacao Farmer © World Agroforestery

Cacao’s Revenge

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, demand for cocoa increases 3% each year, this is great news for the industry. As long as this continues the government will have to launch more rehabilitation programs like the 5-year one they started in 2009 which helped tremendously as at the time it was very slow going production. Between the campaign’s start and 2013, Indonesia exported a total of 575,000 tons of cacao, staggering numbers and ever since, we’ve seen only an upwards trend. With more attention and funding, Indonesia can easily reach its target goal of 1 million tons a year in the near future.

New Demand, New Industry

Cocoa Beans © World Agroforestery

There are currently around 25 bean-to-bar chocolate companies operating in Indonesia. The industry was valued at $11 billion dollars in 2019 and is projected to reach $25 billion by 2027, this is obviously amazing to hear for us, as we directly benefit from this but it’s also great news for Indonesian cacao as a whole. The more demand, the more money invested and the more of a spotlight Indonesian cacao gets, the better. It’s imperative that smallholder farmers here get the help and support they deserve. Cacao bean quality and yield will only improve in the coming years as a result of the demand increasing. Once this industry reaches new heights, monoculture industries like palm oil and sugar will have less authority over the primary sector finally allowing Indonesia’s cacao to blossom to its full potential.


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