The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has closed pre-event registrations for its 2022 Partnership Meeting, a global event on cocoa sustainability, due to a surge in demand for its first in-person gathering in three years.

The sustainability organization said it had taken the unprecedented step after registering more than 350 people for the gathering Oct. 26-27 at The Hotel in Brussels. WCF’s last two Partnership Meetings were online due to the pandemic, and this is the first in-person gathering since 2019.

“We’ve had huge demand for this event due to the powerful line-up of influential speakers and the strength of the agenda,” said Chris Vincent, WCF’s Interim President. “The event’s theme of ‘Partnerships for Impact’ is resonating strongly with attendees and we are confident this collaborative, leadership forum will allow stakeholders to convene, share best practices and explore new solutions to sector challenges.”

For the first time at a Partnership Meeting, the event agenda features a discussion among three chief executive officers: Peter Boone of Barry Callebaut, Mark Schneider of Nestlé and Dirk van de Put of Mondelēz International.

It also includes the strongest representation from the European Union at a Partnership Meeting, with an address by Heidi Hautala, vice president of the European Parliament, and statements from two European Commissioners: Didier Reynders and Jutta Urpilainen.

With robust representation from cocoa-growing countries and cocoa farmers, the program includes ministers and senior officials from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia and the United States. Themes being covered range from traceability to pricing to the U.S. perspective on sustainability in cocoa.

The event has strong sponsorship from WCF company members with ofi as Platinum sponsor, Hershey as Gold and Ecom as reception sponsor. Silver sponsors are Cargill, Farmerline, Lindt & Sprüngli, Mondelēz International and Nestlé.