Members of the European Cocoa Association (ECA) have elected Harold Poelma, president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, as chairman of the association for the next two years, beginning May 26.

Paul Davis, head of cocoa at Sucden, has also been appointed as the ECA vice chair, and Christian Vollers, managing director at Vollers Group GmbH, has been named treasurer. Poelma, Davis and Vollers form the new ECA Executive Committee.

Poelma thanked Steven Retzlaff, former ECA Chairman, for his efforts and leadership during his term, notably on the significant development of ECA’s regulatory activities and increased membership. During Retzlaff’s term, the seventh edition of the European Cocoa Forum was held in September 2019 with great success.

The General Assembly also appointed two new directors: Christophe Vandierendonck, managing director-commodities at Katoen Natie, and Enrico Pacorini, CEO at Pacorini Group.

For the next two years, the ECA Board will have the three executive committee members and the following directors:

  • Steven Retzlaff, president of global cocoa, Barry Callebaut
  • Patrick de Boussac, CEO, Touton
  • Gerard A. Manley, CEO, Olam
  • Patrick Poirrier CEO, Cemoi
  • Wim Groen, CEO, Theobroma
  • Olaf Reichardt, CEO, Fuchs & Hoffmann GmbH
  • Mario Snellenberg, commercial director, Nederland SA
  • Christophe Vandierendonck, managing director-commodities, Katoen Natie
  • Enrico Pacorini, CEO, Pacorini Group

As the ECA Chairman, Poelma has also been appointed as chairman of the Primary Food Processors Platform.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the resilience of our global community as well as our cocoa and chocolate community,” Poelma said. “For all ECA-members and its partners, it’s important that we continue to work together to find solutions that will help us overcome the challenges associated with this crisis and any issue that affects the industry, the trading and the logistics of the cocoa sector. It’s my privilege and honor to chair the ECA for the next two years and continue to build on the great work that has been done already to create a thriving cocoa sector for all stakeholders, including creating lasting benefits for those who need it most: cocoa growing communities.”

Poelma joined Cargill in 1987 and has held various management positions in Cargill‘s refined vegetable oils business, oilseeds processing division and grain trading division in Europe and the United States. He has worked in the cocoa industry for Cargill in the Netherlands since 2001. In January 2016, he was appointed as president of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. 

The ECA is a trade association that groups the major companies involved in the cocoa bean trade and processing, in warehousing and related logistical activities in Europe. Together, ECA members represent 75 percent of cocoa bean grinding in the EU, 50 percent of Europe's industrial chocolate production and well over 40 percent of the world production of cocoa liquor, butter and powder. 

On behalf of its members, ECA monitors and reports on developments impacting the cocoa sector, both at regulatory and scientific levels. In addition, ECA is actively engaged in European and International forums related to the industry's contribution to a sustainable cocoa economy.