Barry Callebaut educates farmers to establish sustainable cocoa supply chain

Global chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Barry Callebaut is aiming to take farmer engagement to the "next level" by addressing the gaps in knowledge, materials and funding that are seen as barriers to sustainable cocoa supply chains.

Operating 50 cocoa and chocolate factories in 34 countries, the company’s main focus is securing and increasing its supply of cocoa by future-proofing operations.

Explaining that this is vital to its long-term business success, the company’s report warns that “without more cocoa, we cannot meet the rising demand for chocolate”.

As a result, this is not only the primary focus of Barry Callebaut’s sustainability strategy; it is also one of the four pillars of the company’s corporate strategy, alongside Expansion, Innovation and Cost Leadership.

“For cocoa production to be sustainable, we believe that farmers must be able to earn an equitable income; engage in responsible labour practices; safeguard the environment through sound agricultural practices; and have the means to provide for the basic health and education needs and general well-being of their families,” the report states.

Building on the company’s Quality Partner Program (QPP), which rolled-out farmer training, improved production practices and provided basic health care and education, the company launched its Cocoa Horizons programme in 2012.

The report says that through the programme, training farmers in better agricultural practices will lead to more productive cocoa trees, higher yields, increased farmer incomes, and “ultimately better livelihood for farmers”.

CEO Juergen Steinemann said: “Demand for chocolate and cocoa continues to grow, yet production remains flat. And without more cocoa, there cannot be more chocolate. To safeguard the future of our business, we must make cocoa farming viable and attractive to farmers today and tomorrow.

“We believe that cocoa production will only be sustainable when farmers are able to follow responsible labour practices and safeguard the environment,” he added.

Meanwhile, the company reported that it achieved its five-year target to reduce relative energy consumption by 20%, while energy use per tonne of activity decreased by almost 2% to 0.953 GJ/t compared to the previous year.

However, water consumption increased by 14% with the company using 1.89 million m3 of water, or 0.57 m3/tonne of activity.

Despite the increase, the company says its operations are typically not located in water-scarce areas, “nor are they considered to be large users of water”.

“Nevertheless, we intend to reduce our water footprint and our target is to use 5% less water each year per tonne of activity,” the company states.

Leigh Stringer

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