Anything worth doing should be done right. And that, of course, takes time.
No one knows that better than chocolate and cocoa companies working to support the cocoa supply and cocoa-producing communities through boosting yields, improving farming practices and establishing community development efforts.
The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and its participating members have led the charge, introducing the CocoaAction sustainability framework in 2014. But, as WCF noted in its Oct. 30 CocoaAction annual report, they only began collecting data and rolling out community development and productivity practices last year.
A program of that scope does not make major strides overnight, but it can, with time and patience. Barry Callebaut Group is on the same path, as its recent progress report reveals.
The Swiss company — also a WCF partner — launched the Forever Chocolate initiative in late 2016, with the goals of lifting more than 500,000 cocoa farmers from poverty, eradicating child labor from its supply chain, becoming carbon and forest positive and using 100 percent sustainable ingredients by 2025.
Those are lofty goals, to be sure, but they can be achieved with continued steps forward.
“Forever Chocolate is building on the long tradition of Barry Callebaut,” says Barry Callebaut CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique in a video on the company’s website. “We’ve been involved since our creation with sustainability. It’s part of who we are. This year, we made great progress.”
So far, 5,814 farmers in Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Tanzania, Indonesia and Brazil have implemented productivity programs, which include having access to coaching, tools and seedlings and financial solutions. In Cote D’Ivoire, the farmers who received these services saw, on average, a 23 percent increase in productivity. Furthermore, participating farmers have replanted 175.5 hectares of cocoa, with another 1,000 to be replanted next season.
In terms of child labor, Barry Callebaut, with help from the International Cocoa Initiative, piloted two child labor monitoring and remediation systems (CLMRS), covering two cooperatives and 494 farmers. Through those systems, 38 cases of hazardous child labor were identified.
And, by serving 340 farmer groups Barry Callebaut sources from Cote D’Ivoire, the company learned 3.2 percent have similar monitoring systems in place. Those systems detected 209 cases of hazardous child labor.
Carbon emissions and deforestation are also two of the program’s key concerns. Barry Callebaut was among the companies to back the Cocoa and Forest Initiative Frameworks for Action, signed at the UN Climate Conference in November. They include ending conversion of forest land for cocoa production and ceasing the sourcing of cocoa from national parks and reserves.
Barry Callebaut says it’s mapping the locations of its farmer partners for cocoa and other raw materials to ensure they are not located in protected areas. The company will also determine which certification programs will help the company ensure its products are free of deforestation.
Meanwhile, the carbon footprint of Barry Callebaut’s supply chain from farm to customer was 8.23 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, representing an 11 percent increase from its previous measurement. The company attributed the gain to higher production volumes.
However, the intensity per ton of average products dropped from 4.4 tons in 2014/15 to 4.32 tons in 2016/17, thanks to implementing energy efficiency activities at the factory level, an increased share of renewable energy sources and an increased production efficiency rate in its cocoa factories.
Lastly, Barry Callebaut says a third of its raw materials are sustainably sourced. The company sourced 36 percent of its cocoa through sustainability programs, up 13 percent from a year ago. The increase includes cocoa sourced through the company’s Cocoa Horizons program and external certifications.
Clearly, Barry Callebaut has a ways to go to reach its goals, but as the needs of its supply chain come into clearer focus, the company can continue to move forward. And it can’t be the only one, de Saint-Affrique says.
“The ambition of Forever Chocolate is to create a movement that makes sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025. A movement is what is important,” he says. “We can’t do it alone. There are plenty of things we can do. There are plenty of things we are doing. But we need to do it together.”