Maya Mountain Cacao
Most Recent Visit: March, 2016
Number of Farmers: 302
Number of Female Farmers: 22
Numbers of Hectares Certified Organic: 319
Annual volume purchased: 3.81 metric tons
Price model*: Fixed
Price paid by Taza**: $5600 per metric ton
Price paid to Farmers***: $4174 per metric ton
Percent paid to Farmers: 74.5%
Additional Benefits to Farmers: Centralized cacao fermentation and drying; Price stability; Subsidized cacao seedlings; Agronomic assistance; Farmer microloans; Cacao sector support
The Upside: Improved farmer livelihoods
The Challenge: Tight margins
Since its launch in 2011, Maya Mountain Cacao (“MMC”) has become Belize’s largest cacao buyer, processor and exporter. With the mission of improving farmer livelihoods, MMC has steadily expanded its producer network by delivering agricultural services, paying farmers exceptional prices, and developing relationships built on trust and transparency. At the country level, MMC has sparked global demand by craft chocolate makers for Belizean beans which has inspired new competitors and driven cacao prices ever higher.
This year, Maya Mountain Cacao paid farmers $4174 per metric ton of cacao, 74.5% of the price the company receives from Taza. This price equals just under twice the average amount received by farmers globally, and it represents a threefold increase from when MMC first began buying beans in 2011. Clearly, MMC’s farmer network welcomes this price, but the rest of the supply chain feels the squeeze. MMC struggles to turn a profit with such a tight margin and limited volumes (Belize produces less than .01% of the world’s cacao), even while exporting its beans to Taza at a fixed $5600 per metric ton, a price that limits our use of the beans to the 77% Dark Belize Origin Bar.
In a positive development for MMC and cacao farmers, this year, community leader Gabriel Pop launched a sister non-profit called the Na’lu’um Cacao Institute. NLCI provides many of the producer services and resources that were previously offered by MMC, including growing and distributing high-quality cacao seedlings and providing technical assistance that helps farmers increase production. As an original investor in Maya Mountain Cacao, Taza is immensely proud of the MMC team and the powerful force for good they represent in Belize.
*For Taza's purposes, a cacao price is fixed when the dollar amount is agreed upon and will not be affected by daily fluctuations in the world market price. In turn, it allows the partner to guarantee a fixed price to farmers at the start of the harvest season. Alternatively, Taza and a partner may negotiate a premium above the fluctuating world market price. This is a more common model in the industry and one used by Fair Trade, among others. The complexity and pros and cons of each model are outside the scope of this report.
**Price Paid by Taza is equal to the negotiated fixed price or to the negotiated premium plus the world market price on the day the contract is closed.
***Price Paid to Farmers is calculated as the average price paid by the partner to farmers between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.