Ghanaians urged to choose chocolate over Valentine’s Day ‘vices’

The west African nation is celebrating its 18th National Chocolate Day

Ghana is celebrating its 18th National Chocolate Day, and its second National Chocolate Week, with the now annual push from cocoa companies for Ghanaians to eat more chocolate.

The annual event began in 2005 when then tourism minister Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey announced that St Valentine’s Day would be replaced by a celebration of chocolate, in a bid to encourage citizens of the world’s second largest cocoa producer to consume more of the crop themselves.

In 2020 current tourism minister Barbara Oteng Gyasi also said the redesignation of February 14th as National Chocolate Day had helped to "minimise social vices associated with the celebration of Valentine's Day".

For the past week a temporarily set up "Chocolate City", beside Accra Mall in the west African nation's capital, has been operating. An array of companies set up stalls as locals were enticed in by cook-offs, a poetry competition, a "ladies night" and a scheduled rave.


The slogan of the week, on banners across the venue, are “eat chocolate, stay healthy, grow Ghana”. Over a loudspeaker the announcer extolled what he said were the health benefits of eating more cocoa, including a reduced risk of stroke. A leaflet for Prime Cocoa Products Ltd promoted cocoa as good for skin, the brain and fertility.

"It has been busy," said Adjontey Ficial Love, the company's marketing manager. "It is important for us to celebrate this because we produce cocoa and we are meant to consume it, so we are sensitising the public on why they should eat it more," she said, adding that people living abroad should also come to Ghana to "have a feel" of the "quality" cocoa there.

So sweet

“Everybody’s loving chocolate week,” said Kobby Owusu, who has worked the event three years in a row as part of the media department for the Chocolate Mall Company, which was selling chocolate-covered peanuts and strawberry-flavoured chocolate spread, among other products. “Everybody should eat cocoa every day in drinks, in spreads. Valentine’s Day is important because it brings families and loved ones together to eat cocoa. Just imagine you have chocolate in your mouth to give to your partner, it tastes so sweet.”

"Other people think Valentine's Day is about sex, sex, sex, but it is a day for love and chocolate," said Mabel Sallah, a sales manager for Cobean'z, which makes spices with a cocoa base, and Dr Jany, which produces chocolate facial scrub; cinnamon, cocoa and shea butter lip balm; and a cocoa-based herbal foot treatment. "In Ghana we use cocoa as a symbol of love. It's important because it helps our economy," she said.

Speaking at the launch of National Chocolate Week, minister of information Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah told journalists that Ghana had a target of 1kg per capita cocoa consumption, but was currently at just over 0.55kg per person.

In 2017, Euromonitor International found that the average Irish person ate 7.7kg of chocolate in a year.

Sally Hayden

Sally Hayden

Sally Hayden, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports on Africa