Can the FCC help me in setting up in the cocoa business as a private independent operator?
The Federation is requested from time to time to give advice in this area. Often the request is made to us by family or friends based in Europe of small farms based in producing countries who have a genuine desire to improve the prices received by the cocoa farmers.
Whilst the intentions are good, we have seen various attempts in this area fail quite badly due to the new entrant into the business not having first gained experience within a cocoa trading operation. Yes – you could get lucky, but the odds are stacked against you unless you really understand the dangers of price volatility, the risks associated with quality and cocoa transportation and the rules for cocoa trading and arbitration.
There is no substitute for experience at this end of the market and to understand the complex network of supply within a country as the cocoa moves from small farms in very small quantities to larger aggregated amounts for export shipment or in country processing.
Can we recommend buyers or business contacts?
No we cannot, as the FCC has a responsibility to remain impartial as between its’ members. The onus is on the individual or company to make their own enquiries and research using the resources available through the FCC website – noting that as a non-member the available information will be limited. Links to resources are available on the Federation’s website.
Where can I learn more about the cocoa trade?
Every year the Federation runs educational courses in June for those working in the industry or looking to establish themselves as cocoa entrepreneurs.
All levels of experience are more than welcome to attend. The details of these courses including application process & fees are listed on our website. It’s a fantastic chance to develop your knowledge and insight into new or familiar areas, and an opportunity to network. We run Introductory courses to the cocoa industry and to contracts and arbitration and these courses provide extensive insights into the complexities of the international trade. For more information please see our ‘Education’ area of our website.
If I want to trade cocoa can I join the FCC as a Voting or Associate Member if I am completely new in the industry?
The short answer is no. Part of the process of becoming an FCC member is that you have to be proposed and seconded by two existing voting members, with which you have had an established business relationship. The reason for this is that our members uphold extremely high standards of credibility and integrity within the often volatile international cocoa trade, and being a part of the Federation is a symbol of your company’s ability to honour its contractual commitments.
Further to this, depending on your choice of membership there are also capital requirements which must be met.
Non Voting membership is provided for those who se activities are ancillary to the cocoa trade but who do not directly engage as principals to cocoa contracts.
Can I buy or sell cocoa for export from Ghana without membership of the FCC?
It is a requirement set out by the Ghana Cocoa Board (GCB) that any company buying or selling Ghanaian cocoa for the purpose of export must be a member of the Federation. The reason for this is that applicants for voting (trading) Federation membership must meet financial and other criteria and this first level of check has proved successful for the GCB over the years there having been no payment defaults.
What’s the membership application process like?
Once you have decided you wish to apply to join the FCC and have chosen your category of membership, you must send the relevant completed application forms to us by email, which can be downloaded via our website. These forms will be sent to the membership committee for an initial review. The Council, subject to all being in order, will then take into account the committee’s recommendation and make the final decision to approve or reject the application.
I am interested in commodity trading as a career. If I want to be a cocoa trader– how do I go about it?
The Federation is not a cocoa trading company. We are a trade association setting the contractual framework within which the trade in cocoa takes place and our members are the companies who are engaged in the cocoa trade. Therefore , we are not ourselves involved within the physical or futures cocoa markets.
If it is specifically the cocoa trade in which you would like to make your career of then it is very much down to you to identify just why this market appeals to you. You also need to assess your educational and experience background to assess the entry point at which you could be successful.
The cocoa trade is very much one that you learn from experience in view of its’ many facets from quality, logistics, storage, processing through to chocolate manufacture. You should review our list of members for those who are operating in or located in the areas that interest you.
If it is the idea of a quick buck then you may be disappointed. But if it is a genuine interest in the cocoa to chocolate supply chain for example then you have a lot of options. Careers in cocoa logistics may be attractive where cocoa quality inspection fulfils a vital role in supporting the trade.