Skip to content

Olam International’s Odyssey: Global Pioneers in Cocoa Powder

is an impressive force in the agricultural industry, having grown exponentially from a small Nigerian enterprise into a global agri-business giant operating from farm to shelf in over 60 nations worldwide. This Singapore-based company boasts a market value of approximately $3.5 billion as of September 2021 according to the SGX, commanding a significant stake in the world's industry. Telling the story of is more than recounting a successful business venture. It's the chronicle of a journey that transects continents and cultures, linked by the common threads of dedication, innovation, and a tireless pursuit of sustainability.

The Story of Olam International: Building a Global Agri-Business Powerhouse

In 1989, Kewalram Chanrai Group diversified into the Nigerian export business through the newly-established Olam, originally a trader of raw cashew nuts. Olam International grew rapidly, broadening its horizons and venturing into other commodity markets. Through strategic acquisitions, constant innovation, and a sustained focus on sustainability, it transformed into a global agri-business powerhouse, earning a spot on the Fortune 500 list.

What sets Olam apart from its competitors is its ‘Beyond the Horizon' strategy, which involves a greater focus on valued-added areas like brand-consumer relations and sustainability. This strategy has seen Olam rise to become a major player in Africa's agro-industrial economy. It has a network of 4.8 million farmers supplying a range of commodities – from , coffee, cashew, rice, and various grains, to dairy products, palm oil, cotton, and wood products.

From Farm to Market: Olam's Integrated Supply Chain

The success of Olam International can largely be credited to its integrated ‘farm to market' supply chain model. This model presents a massive logistical undertaking, involving direct sourcing from millions of farmers around the globe, and delivering finished goods to the doorstep of leading food and beverage manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice brands.

yellow and black forklift during daytime

Olam's supply chain is bolstered by long-term partnerships with farmers, which are cultivated over years of mutual trust and support. The company provides farmers with support in the form of quality crop inputs, sustainable farming practices, and access to microfinance, helping ensure crop quality and yielding benefits for both parties.

Olam also has an extensive logistics network, with over 267 processing facilities and 210 warehouses globally. This distribution system allows it to promptly deliver high-quality products to over 19,800 customers worldwide, establishing a global brand that is trusted and recognized.

The Journey of Cocoa at Olam: From Bean to Final Product

Olam is particularly renowned for its work in the cocoa industry. The journey of cocoa at Olam starts from the many cocoa farms around the world, particularly in Africa, Asia, and South America. The company's direct sourcing capability enables it to obtain high-quality cocoa beans, which are then transported to its processing facilities.

The cocoa beans undergo a thorough fermentation process, followed by drying, roasting, and grinding to produce , butter, and powder. These products then find their way into an array of food items, from confectioneries and beverages, to baked goods, ice creams, and cereals.

cacao, cocoa, chocolate

In recent news, Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), a leading arm of Olam International, opened a new cocoa processing plant in Ivory Coast in July 2021. This $61 million facility echoes Olam's commitment to sustainability and traceability in Indonesia, as it processes 100% traceable cocoa beans sourced from Olam's sustainable sourcing network in the nation.

Having witnessed the expansion of Olam International and its impact on the cocoa industry, we've merely scratched the surface of their global odyssey.To fully comprehend the growth, influence, and the future of this agri-business pioneer, one must delve deeper. The roots of Olam International are spread far and wide, much like the fruitful trees of the cocoa farms they cultivate. This tale is anything but over.
is not a beginner in the commodities world.

Founded in 1989, the multinational corporation operates in more than 60 countries, providing various services ranging from supply chain management to processing operations. The keyword “Olam International” has a significant role in shaping the global cocoa industry, particularly in the sections discussing innovations in cocoa processing and the adoption of sustainable farming methods.

Innovations in Cocoa Processing: Setting New Industry Standards

Throughout its operations, Olam International has continually demonstrated its expertise in cocoa processing, setting new industry standards while doing so. Innovation is a cornerstone of Olam's operations, as the company always strives to be at the cutting edge of cocoa processing technology.

fruit, cocoa, food

A major technological breakthrough is the introduction of the deZaan D11LK cocoa powder. This amazing innovation by Olam Cocoa, the division responsible for cocoa products, became a game changer in the sector. The D11LK is characterized by a high fat level (10-12%) and a consequent bright reddish color, superior flow properties, better suspension, and a significantly intense cocoa flavor, making it perfect for a wide range of applications like dairy, bakery, and beverages.

Interestingly, Olam has more innovative processing techniques up their sleeves. Their unique processing technology, called the WholeFruit chocolate, which converts the whole cacao fruit into a flavorful product, presents a fresh take on sustainability and zero waste. This bold approach not only tunes up the flavor dynamics but also reduces waste generation, further exemplifying Olam's commitment to sustainability.

Growing Responsibly: Olam's Commitment to Sustainable Cocoa Farming

Sustainability isn't just a buzzword for Olam International. It is an inherent part of the corporation's strategy and operation. Recognizing the environmental implications that cocoa farming can bring about, the company is heavily invested in promoting more sustainable practices within its sphere of influence.

Olam's plans and actions towards sustainability are enshrined in its sustainability policy, called ‘Olam Cocoa Compass‘. The policy sets clear goals to address issues such as deforestation, living incomes for farmers, and child labor. The company aims to achieve 100% traceability of directly sourced cocoa across its entire global supply chain by 2020 as part of the program. As per a report by Olam, their sustainability initiative has already resulted in a 40% increase in farmer incomes and a 20% drop in their carbon footprint.

A World of Cocoa: Exploring Olam's Diverse Product Portfolio

As a leading global supplier and processor of cocoa, Olam International has a wide range of product offerings, each majoring in a different aspect of the cocoa process. From the sourcing and trading of cocoa beans to the manufacturing of industrial cocoa products, the company's diverse portfolio caters to a multitude of consumers around the world.

Some notable products include the deZaan cocoa powders, cocoa mass, , cocoa liquor, and cocoa cake. These products, with their different flavor profiles and characteristics, are suitable for a wide range of applications and are trusted by leading manufacturers worldwide. Olam even provides specialty fat products such as the Unicao premium cocoa butter, designed to offer manufacturers greater flavour and colour versatility.

In conclusion, Olam International's story is one of innovation, responsible growth, and diversification. The company's unwavering commitment to both their customers and the planet sets them apart in the competitive cocoa industry has been one of the most innovative global companies in the cultivation, processing, and distribution of cocoa products. In this article, we will delve into the journey of the company, particularly in its venture into the production of cocoa powder. We will explore how Olam International is harnessing technology to boost efficiency and quality while addressing challenges and spotting opportunities for growth and innovation in this highly promising sector.

Harnessing Technology: Enhancing Efficiency and Quality in Cocoa Production

Olam International recognizes the pivotal role that technology plays in optimizing cocoa production. As one of the world's leading supply chain managers in agri-business, the company has been a trailblazer in implementing digitally-enabled tools and techniques in the agriculture sector. High-tech farming methods are increasingly replacing traditional methods, leading to greater efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and improved quality of products.

Olam has launched several technological initiatives to enhance the quality of its cocoa. For instance, the Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS) has helped amass data from 150,000 smallholder farmers across 21 countries. Such data is instrumental in providing insights about improving quality and productivity.

Sustainability is also a major focus for Olam, with tools such as AtSource providing customers information about environmental, social, and human impacts at each point of the supply chain. This transparent approach ensures that the cocoa products you receive from Olam are of the highest quality without compromising sustainability efforts.

The global cocoa sector presents several challenges, including climate change, disease, aging infrastructure, and societal issues in cocoa-growing communities. Olam International is committed to addressing these challenges through operational changes, technological innovation, and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Critical issues such as child labor, and farmers' poverty are responded to with Olam's groundbreaking Living Income Strategy. This initiative provides support to farmers, their families, and communities to generate alternative income streams outside of cocoa, improving their living conditions.

Climate change, too, isn't left unaddressed. Through its ambitious climate goals, Olam aims to slash its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in half by 2030, which means a consistent commitment to more sustainable farming practices.

The Road Ahead: Opportunities for Innovation and Growth

Looking into the future, Olam International is driven to innovate and grow. It recognizes the potential of emerging markets and constantly seeks opportunities to offer cocoa products that meet the ever-changing consumer demands.

By leveraging its technology-powered supply chain, Olam has the real-time data required to respond swiftly to market dynamics. New product development is at the heart of its growth strategy, regularly introducing innovative products to the global market, such as deZaan D11MG, an intensely colorful and flavorful powder that redefines what cocoa powder can achieve.

In conclusion, the odyssey of Olam International in the world of cocoa has been marked by a constant pursuit of technology-driven enhancement, a committed response to the sector's challenges, and an insatiable appetite for innovation and growth. Given its promising trajectory, Olam is certainly set to continue making significant strides in shaping the future of the global cocoa sector.

Open chat
Need help?
Hi, how can we help you?