Cargill has entered a multi-year research agreement with vertical farming company AeroFarms aimed at improving cocoa bean yields and developing more climate-resilient farming practices.
“Environmental challenges and growing demand for cocoa products are placing increased pressure on the global cocoa supply chain,” said Niels Boetje, managing director Cargill Cocoa Europe.
Niels said that through partnerships with research institutes, universities and companies like AeroFarms, Cargill is collaborating across sectors in bold experiments to bring greater productivity and resiliency to traditional cocoa farming operations.
He added, "We look forward to sharing our findings with the farmer cooperatives in our cocoa supply chain to help ensure a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.”
“AeroFarms shares a similar vision as Cargill to nourish the world in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way,” said David Rosenberg, Co-Founder & CEO of AeroFarms. “We have grown over 550 different crops, and we are excited to be working on another project with them, this time focused on cocoa.”
R&D in cocoa production
The two organizations will experiment with different indoor growing technologies including aeroponics and hydroponics, light, carbon dioxide, irrigation, nutrition, plant space and pruning to identify the optimal conditions for cocoa tree growth.
These findings will yield new insights, targeting factors such as faster tree growth and greater yields, accelerated development of varieties with enhanced pest and disease resistance, and unlocking the cocoa bean’s full flavor and color potential. These outcomes will help secure the future supply of cocoa beans in the face of climate change.