Activity 5: The Exporting Process

Teacher and Learning Activities

This activity allows students to consider the global, national and local supply chains which exist to create a bar of chocolate.


Read through the Definition: Supply Chain. Based on earlier activities, ask students to define the terms 'producers' and 'consumers'.

Taking the example of a chocolate bar (complete with wrapper), ask students to brainstorm possible examples of each element in the supply chain using the table provided, Elements in the Supply Chain of a Chocolate Bar. Elements might include:

  • Producers: e.g. farmers and miners;
  • Raw materials: e.g. cocoa beans, sugar, milk, wood for paper wrappers, aluminium for foil wrappers etc.;
  • Manufacturers: e.g. chocolate factories, sugar mills and refineries and milk processors;
  • Distributors: e.g. warehouses, transport companies (delivery trucks);
  • Retailers: e.g. supermarkets, service stations and vending machines, etc.;
  • Service providers: e.g. designers, advertisers, market researchers, transport providers etc.;
  • Consumers: e.g. everyone! manufacturers of other chocolate products, the export market.



Divide the class into four research groups named Sugar, Milk, Cocoa and Product Distribution. Distribute information sheets and question cards Supply Chains (Milk, Sugar, Cocoa, Product Distribution) which detail the supply chains for their ingredient or stage in the process. Ask each research group to work together to extract the key information from the text ready to present to the rest of the class.

When students have completed this activity, hand out the supply chain diagrams to assess their findings and assist in their presentation.


Each research group should give a short presentation detailing the key stages of their supply chain.

Their presentation should include:

  • The major players (who does it involve?) e.g. not just the farmer but the transport company transporting the milk;
  • Key considerations that the actions of the major players. e.g. harvesting times, perishable nature of the product, type of transport used (refrigerated tankers);
  • Geographic information about the location of the primary producer / site of the manufacturer or distribution centre.

Form new groups which contain a specialist from each of the four research groups. Hand out icon sheets to be cut out for use in this activity. Direct the groups to combine their knowledge in order to create a diagram representing the full supply chain for a chocolate bar (without wrapper).

This diagram should be labelled with key decision factors marked.

After this activity is completed, invite students to use the provided chocolate bar supply chain diagram to assess their own or another group's illustration of the supply chain.

Discuss students' responses to the tasks. How would the supply chains of an iPod compare?

Supply Chain - The Chocolate Bar Supply Chain - Solution

For a detailed version of the graphic below, please refer to Activity 5 high resolution PDF

Student Materials


Definition: Supply Chain

A supply chain is the network of producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers who turn raw materials into finished goods and services delivered to consumers. The supply chain includes the planning, recording and communication needed to make the movement of goods between chain members efficient.

Elements in the Supply Chain of a Chocolate Bar



Read the information on the sheet that refers to your research group (e.g. milk, sugar, cocoa, or product distribution). Extract key information to present to the class.


Give a short presentation detailing the key stages of your nominated supply chain. Include:

  • major players;
  • key considerations that the actions of major players; and
  • geographic information about the location of the primary producer/site of manufacturer or distribution centre.

In your new groups (a representative of each supply chain in each group) create a diagram or illustration representing the full supply chain of a chocolate bar (no wrapper). Use the icons sheet to cut out icons and arrange in the correct order to form the whole chocolate bar supply chain.

Supply Chain - Milk

The dairy industry is one of Australia's major rural industries, third behind the beef and wheat. Milk is produced and sold as drinking milk but also manufactured to make many dairy products which are consumed within Australia and exported to many world regions.

All Australian states have dairy industries to supply local areas with fresh drinking milk. However, low cost dairy farming, which relies on good pastures and natural water sources, is primarily based in south east Australia where the climate is temperate. The diagram below shows the proportion of milk production within Australia.

Victorian's temperate climate and soil variety are good for dairy farming. The rich pastures allow herds to be fed naturally, keeping Victorian milk production costs relatively low compared with other states. Sometimes though, in times of drought, the supply of grass for grazing may become short and farmers may need to supply alternative food such as grains and hay to supplement the diet.

Seasons affect the production of milk. Milk production is highest in spring when the pastures are at their most lush and reduces in late autumn and winter. However, farmers are able to manage calving and feed supplement so that milk is produced evenly throughout the year.


Cows are milked twice a day. Modern farms have large milking sheds containing milking machines to collect the cows' milk through suction cups which the farmer places on each of the cow's four teats. The machine transports the milk through stainless steel pipes to refrigerated vats or silos that cool and store the milk ready for collection. Milk can be stored in the refrigerated vats for no longer than 48 hours. The milk is collected from the vats every 24 or 48 hours by refrigerated tankers. The milk is stored in refrigerated silos at the factory before being processed.

Samples of milk are taken and analysed before processing begins. Most farmers are paid according to the quality and composition of the milk they produce so it is extremely important that these samples are collected and stored correctly.

At the factory the milk is pasteurised to kill any harmful bacteria. Cream can become separated from the milk whilst being stored and pasteurised so the milk also goes through a process called homogenisation. The milk and cream are blended together again giving the milk its smooth and creamy texture.

The processed milk is once again stored in vats ready to be packaged and transported to shops or collected by refrigerated tankers and taken to manufacturers. Dairy manufacturers make dairy products such as cheese, cream, butter and yoghurt. Other manufacturers use the milk as an ingredient in products such as chocolate. The final dairy products are either made ready for export or assembled into orders and distributed by road or rail to the manufacturers' customers in Australia.


  • Why is Victoria one of the best regions in Australia for manufacturers to source their milk supply from?
  • What planning, recording and communication do you think need to take place within this supply chain?
  • What time restrictions are there in this supply chain?
  • What specialised vehicles are used in the transportation of milk?

Supply Chain - Milk

For a detailed version of the graphic below, please refer to Activity 5 high resolution PDF

Supply Chain - Sugar

Map of sugar growing regions of Australia Source: CSIRO

Sugar is grown in many countries around the world. It is produced from sugar cane in countries with warm climates and from sugar beet in cooler climates. Sugar cane grows best in tropical or subtropical areas due to the high temperatures and regular rain supply these climates provide. Australia produces raw sugar from sugar cane grown primarily in Queensland's subtropical and tropical coastal regions. Sugar cane is also grown in the subtropical north of New South Wales.


Sugar cane can take between 10 and 16 months to grow before it is ready for harvest between June and December. Harvesting begins by burning the crop to reduce the amount of leaves, weeds and other matter which can make harvesting and milling operations difficult. Farmers use a machine called a harvester to gather the crop. It moves along the rows of sugar cane. As it does so it removes the remaining leafy tops of the cane stalks, cuts the stalks off at ground level and chops the cane into small lengths called billets. The billets are loaded into wire bins towed alongside by a tractor. These field transporters take the harvested sugar cane to collection areas known as cane pads. At the cane pads, the billets are transferred into very large bins ready to be collected and taken to the mill. The sugar mills have to organise collections from each of the cane pads in their catchment area. The mill companies use road transport service providers to co-ordinate this task. This is an important job. Sugar quality and its value reduce over time. Sugar cane should be harvested and delivered to the mill within 16 hours. If the farms are a long way from the mill, rail transport might also be used.

Transport providers often use technology to help them deliver an efficient and effective service. They can use GPS systems to locate the relevant cane pads and have electronic tracking devices on the billet bins to help them track and record the movement of each farmer's produce.

Farmers often belong to a co-operative which owns or works with the sugar mills. Mills need to process the sugar cane straight away to ensure quality. If too much sugar cane is delivered at one time and cannot be processed, the sugar will decrease in quality and the farmer will lose money. The mill also needs to make sure that it has enough sugar cane to process to stay open. The mills and the farmers work together to plan their crop and harvest to ensure no sugar cane is wasted and the mill has a sufficient supply. Each farmer within the co-operative is allocated a time within the season to harvest the different sections of their farm to ensure the optimum supply of sugar to the mills.


On arrival at the mill, the billets are weighed and washed. This weight is recorded so the mill knows how much to pay the farmer. The cane is then fed through a series of mill rollers to extract the sugar juice which is treated to have impurities removed. The sugar juice is heated to evaporate any water leaving a thick syrup called molasses in which raw sugar crystals will form. A machine called a centrifuge separates the raw sugar crystals from the syrup. The raw sugar is tumble-dried and placed in large storage bins and sorted for transport. This bulk sugar is transported to the refineries directly or to bulk terminals by road or rail.

If the sugar is being exported, it is stored in the bulk terminals until it is needed for shipment. Then it is transported via conveyors straight to the wharf and loaded into the ship's hold.

Although sugarcane is only harvested between June and December the refineries operate all-year-round. They need a constant supply of raw sugar so access supplies from the bulk terminals where it is stockpiled.

When the raw sugar arrives at the refinery the final impurities in the sugar are removed. The sugar is then graded into required sizes and packaged. Orders are assembled and dispatched to the refinery's customers, including food manufacturers, by road or rail.


  • Why do the farmers and mills have to co-ordinate their harvesting schedule?
  • Why is raw sugar stockpiled in the bulk terminals?
  • Why do the billet bins have electronic tags?
  • Why is efficient transport to the mill so important?
  • What information do you think the transport providers need to co-ordinate the collection of billet bins?

Supply Chain - Sugar

For a detailed version of the graphic below, please refer to Activity 5 high resolution PDF

Supply Chain - Cocoa
(Source: Cadbury Australia website

Cocoa beans are the key ingredient of chocolate. They are harvested from cocoa trees which grow in humid tropical climates where it rains regularly and temperatures remain even. The cocoa tree naturally grows in South and Central America but has been cultivated to grow in many other countries with appropriate climates. Plantations have been established in areas such as West Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. Cocoa was first planted in Ghana in 1879 and the country is now a major producer of cocoa. Cocoa is grown on small farms where the planting patterns of cocoa trees make mechanisation impractical.


Cadbury Schweppes is a major chocolate manufacturer in Australia. According to its website, it uses cocoa beans sourced from Ghana in West Africa as well as Malaysia and Indonesia in Asia.

Cocoa pods are harvested from the cocoa tree twice a year, mainly during October to December. Harvesting cocoa beans is a very labour-intensive process. Every few weeks the ripe pods are cut from the trees. They are collected in large baskets, which workers carry on their heads to the curing area. Here they are piled up ready for splitting and curing. Farmers split open the pods by hand and remove the beans. The beans are then spread out under banana leaves and left to ferment for 5-6 days, being turned regularly.

After fermentation, the beans are dried in the sun. The dried, cured beans are quality inspected and packed into sacks ready for transportation. The beans are bought and transported by a Ghanaian licensed buying company that works with the Ghanaian Cocoa Board to sell cocoa to manufacturers. The beans are transported by road to the sea port where they are packed in containers and prepared for export. Cadbury, for example, has processing factories in Singapore.

From the port in Singapore, the cocoa beans are transported by road to the processing factory. Here, the beans are sorted and cleaned ready to be winnowed. The part used to make chocolate called the nib, is roasted and ground in stone mills until a 'cocoa mass' is produced. Cocoa mass is used to make cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

The cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder products are quality inspected before being transported back to the port for export by ship to manufacturers. Cadbury has factories in Tasmania and New Zealand. The cocoa products are then used to make chocolate.


  • What modes of transport are used in the supply chain of cocoa?
  • Why do you think the cocoa is processed in Singapore?
  • What planning and organisation do you think is involved in importing cocoa into Australia?

Supply Chain - Cocoa

For a detailed version of the graphic below, please refer to Activity 5 high resolution PDF

Supply Chain - Product Distribution

To make chocolate all the key ingredients are brought together at the manufacturer's chocolate factory. Cadbury, for example, has a chocolate factory in Tasmania where they make Dairy Milk chocolate bars. The key ingredients for chocolate are fresh milk, sugar, and cocoa. Milk would likely be sourced locally to maintain freshness. Most international containerised sea freight enters Australia through the Port of Melbourne where it is processed through Customs and Quarantine before being forwarded on to its final destination. Cocoa, imported by sea from Singapore, and sugar sourced from suppliers within Australia, would be shipped to a Tasmanian port in containers from the Port of Melbourne and then transported by road to the chocolate factory.

The chocolate factory makes chocolate 'crumb', a key ingredient of chocolate. The crumb is passed through a pin mill and mixed with cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, emulsifiers and other flavourings. The chocolate is then refined, mixed and beaten (called conching) to develop flavour, and tempered (mixing and cooling the liquid chocolate). Tempered chocolate is poured into bar-shaped moulds, shaken and cooled. The moulded blocks then continue to high speed wrapping plants within the factory. The wrapped chocolate bars are packed and transported in refrigerated containers from the factory to the manufacturer's distribution centre or made ready for export.

Cadbury's Central Distribution Centre is located in Melbourne where it has easy links to the port, road and rail networks. The chocolate made in the Tasmanian factory is transported to the sea ports and shipped to the Port of Melbourne before being forwarded on by road to the National Distribution Centre. The National Distribution Centre is where orders are assembled for customers (retailers) throughout Australia and forwarded to destinations by road or rail.

Chocolate products may be delivered directly to retail outlets. Alternatively, for large retail chains in particular, the product may be delivered to large distribution centres where products of different descriptions are stored, sorted and combined into consignments to be delivered to individual stores belonging to the chain.

Cadbury Australia exports confectionery products to a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region. These countries include New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and Brunei. Shipments to these countries would depart from the Port of Melbourne.


  • Why might the milk be sourced locally?
  • Why do you think the National Distribution Centre is located in Melbourne?
  • What planning and organisation do you think is involved in distributing the chocolate bars?

Supply Chain - Product Distribution

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Icon Sheet 1 of 3

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Icon Sheet 2 of 3

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Icon Sheet 3 of 3

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