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Finding Minnesota: Cargill's Cocoa

By Angela Davis, WCCO-TV

WAYZATA, Minn. (WCCO) -- Over the weekend, you may have treated yourself to a cup of hot cocoa or maybe a brownie or a chunk of fudge.

Cocoa beans are grown around the world in warm climates, but it's actually a Minnesota company that's playing a role in improving the quality of the plants. While snow piles up on the rooftop of Cargill's headquarters in Wayzata, it's warm and sunny in West Africa where the company does quite a bit of business.

It's here that Cargill gets some of the cocoa beans it processes and then sells to companies that make some of our favorite chocolate treats.

"From your latte at Starbucks to the cookies at grocery stores to traditional candy bars, we supply many companies that make finished chocolate containing products," said Pat Bowe, Cargill's vice president.

Cargill recently won an international community service award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the training that the company does with farmers in Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam.

"We explain to them how to improve their ag practices with the use of fertilizers and pesticides, increasing the yield and productivity of those farms. We have seen dramatic results. Their income levels have increased 30 percent," Bowe said.

Better farming techniques mean better crops and a reliable, steady source of cocoa for Cargill.

For the farmers, having a higher income means they can do a better job of taking care of their families -- more money for food, clothing and healthcare.

Cargill has also partnered with other agencies to help send young children in these impoverished nations to school.

"Our mission of nourishing people globally, giving them an opportunity to have a career and a way to provide income for family, healthcare, education, potential to move up out of poverty is a big thing we can do to help people around this planet," he said.

It's another example of how "Minnesota nice" extends overseas.

Cargill is one of the world's major processors of cocoa beans. They manufacture cocoa powder, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor and industrial chocolate.

They then sell it to companies like General Mills, Hershey and Nestle.

WCCO-TV's Angela Davis Reports

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