Cocoa runs in the blood of the Jasman family.
OK, brown, sweet sticky stuff doesn’t course through their veins. But the Jasman family does own BT Cocoa, Indonesia’s largest cocoa processing company and has for more than 35 years. And leading that company as CEO is Thomas Jasman, ’07 BS Hotel Administration – Hospitality Management.
The company, which processes 150,000 tons of cocoa a year, truly is a family affair. Owned by Thomas’ father, Piter Jasman, the company also employs Thomas’ siblings — brother Lukas as COO and sister Juliana as chief of accounting and finance.
About 400 cocoa beans go into making just 500 grams of chocolate. With people around the world consuming more than 4.5 million tons of cocoa beans a year, the World Cocoa Foundation acknowledges this demand is set to increase. To prepare for this trend, businesses across the industry are working against the clock to upgrade their facilities, streamline their processes, and increase operational efficiencies to satisfy the world’s craving for the sweet treat.
BT Cocoa supplies cocoa powder, butter, and liquor to large internationally recognized brands such as Meiji, Nestlé, and Mondelez International, as well as to local home-grown businesses. The company is well positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for cocoa and chocolate products in Asia – currently the fastest growing region in the world when it comes to cocoa consumption.
“BT Cocoa will make the most of the increased demand over the next few years by simply continuing to do what we do best – produce high-quality cocoa powder, butter and liquor, and support our customers,” Thomas explained. “Thanks to all the hard work from the entire BT Cocoa team, the company is now recognized as one of the top-quality and trusted processed cocoa product providers in Asia. Right now, there’s a lot of emphasis on product integrity and sustainable sourcing, especially in developed countries where people are interested in anti-deforestation and Fairtrade companies.”
Given that raw material supply is one of the key factors in the industry, BT Cocoa has been collaborating with Olam Cocoa to strengthen the supply of beans from various origins, including Indonesia, Ghana, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast. BT Cocoa realizes that good-quality cocoa products can only be achieved through a collaboration with the farmers who grow the beans, Thomas said. This principle is the backbone of the BT CARE (Cocoa Assistance and Rehabilitation Efforts) program, established in 2012 with the aim of tackling sustainability issues at a grassroots level.
“We’re focused on improving the communities around our factories, and this includes providing clean water and materials to build community centers,” said Thomas. "We’ve created a cocoa demonstration club, and we regularly meet with farmers to teach them how to increase production capacity and income.”
While cocoa demand is on the rise, supply in Asia is starting to decline as government incentives push Indonesian farmers to favor other crops such as corn, rice, and palm oil. “This supply shortage is the first and the most pressing issue right now, particularly in Indonesia,” he said, adding that the government needs to create a program to help cocoa farmers improve productivity and rejuvenation of the cocoa trees in order to increase national cocoa bean production. If the national cocoa bean production can be increased it, means that cocoa farmers’ incomes can also increase, he pointed out.
To help accelerate this process, BT Cocoa is focused on improving the efficiency and quality of the market. “We’ll continue to set high standards in the industry to remain competitive on the global stage,” he said. “We already have a highly experienced team with more than 100 years of industry knowledge but we are still investing in them to advance their skills. We make our employees feel like part of the family. We instill a sense of ownership, and I’ve found that if you stand by your people, they’ll stand by you.”
This approach also extends to BT Cocoa’s dealings with partners, suppliers, and international investors. “We treat our customers like lifetime partners. Instead of an industrialist approach, we take a more human approach. That’s what has helped us form such strong relationships,” Thomas said. “BT Cocoa is always open and welcomes cooperation with various parties because it brings mutual benefit.”
The mutually beneficial relationships with customers, partners, and communities form the bedrock of BT Cocoa’s growth platform in Indonesia and throughout Asia. “To us, success is more than profitability,” said Thomas. “We continue to learn and improve every year by facing and overcoming challenges to create a better industry and a better society. First comes purpose, then comes the money.” BT Cocoa’s short-term goal for the future is to improve efficiency in all areas, as well as to improve company performance.
For the long term, the focus is on further cementing its position as a global cocoa provider that prioritizes sustainable growth. Thomas added that the overarching vision is to continue meeting the needs of its customers with a high spirit and integrity, while also ensuring sustainable growth economically and environmentally.