Puratos has closed on a €1 billion financing from a group of private investors including Barings as the lead account. The first draw of the financing will be used to further accelerate the Cacao-Trace program which was founded by Puratos, the international manufacturer of ingredients for the bakery, patisserie, and chocolate sectors. Cacao-Trace helps cocoa farmers increase their revenue thanks to the production of superior tasting chocolate, achieved by mastering the fermentation process.
Growing farmers' expertise and income
Around the globe, close to 50 million people, mostly located in tropical regions, are dependent on cocoa for their livelihoods. On average, cocoa farmers in West-Africa earn less than €2 per day, an income below the poverty line.
The Cacao-Trace program was created in 2014 by Puratos & Belcolade, a brand from Puratos Group. Since its creation and as of today with the support of this group of private investors, the Cacao-Trace program aims to increase its net positive social and environmental impact on the cocoa supply chain. Cacao-Trace focuses on superior-tasting chocolate, and in the process generates value for all, from farmers to consumers. The program trains farmers and helps them to deliver cocoa beans of superior quality, increasing their revenue through a premium price and a chocolate bonus of €0.10 per kilo of chocolate, on top of conventional farm gate price. Today the premium price and chocolate bonus add up to the equivalent of 3 to 4 extra months of salary. Cacao-Trace is already active in several countries across the globe: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mexico, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, and Vietnam.
Financing for a more sustainable future of the cocoa industry
Following a thorough due diligence process, a group of private investors agreed to finance Puratos and Cacao-Trace for an aggregate amount of €1 billion, demonstrating the relevance and long-term potential of Cacao-Trace, to transform the cocoa supply chain in a social and sustainable way. The financing mechanics have been assessed by Peterson Projects and verified according to the ICMA1 principles of sustainable financing. Puratos completed this transaction together with BNP Paribas as lead arranger and Eubelius as legal and tax advisor.
The €1 billion long-term financing will support the purchase of more Cacao-Trace certified beans directly from the farmers, intensifying the collaboration with local cocoa communities. It will also be used for the construction of ten cocoa post-harvest centers and three grinding lines in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia between 2021 and 2026.
This sizeable transaction marks Puratos’ first sustainable financing. Jean-Philippe Michaux, CFO and head of the sustainability steering committee at Puratos, “Cacao-Trace is a long- term commitment by Puratos towards a sustainable cocoa supply chain. It goes far beyond the average industry standards for sustainable chocolate by creating value for everyone, starting with the cocoa farmers. We are there on the ground, alongside farming communities to coach 8.867 farmers to grow higher-quality cocoa and give guidance to run plantations in a more sustainable way. The sustainable financing was granted on a 20-year term, which shows both Puratos’ and its investment partners’ long term vision. As a family company we think in terms of generations. This funding will help us accelerate our efforts and further improve the positive impacts for the chocolate communities. It is our commitment to you and to future generations to enjoy the best tasting chocolate for many years to come.”
Jim Moore, managing director, Barings Private Debt Group, said: “Puratos is a strong innovative company, and the steps they’re taking to improve their sustainability both environmentally and socially echo the focus that Barings also has on its ESG efforts."
Tomas Fiege Vos de Wael, group head sustainability, Peterson Projects, said: “We believe this financing will help scale up and raise the environmental ambitions of the green bond market and look forward to see the impact it will create for farmers in the cocoa industry worldwide."