Major firms commit to ending deforestation in cocoa supply chains

Senior executives from 12 leading coca and chocolate companies, including Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestlé, have heeded the advice of the Prince of Wales and agreed to end deforestation in the global cocoa supply chain.

The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit (ISU) hosted the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) in a first of its kind meeting on Thursday (16 March), where 12 global companies stated their commitment to developing an action plan to end deforestation and forest degradation in supply chains in time for COP 23 in November.

HRH The Prince of Wales said: “The most powerful direct reason for action is that deforestation threatens to undermine the very resilience of the cocoa sector itself, and with it the livelihoods of the millions of smallholders who depend on it. I am heartened that companies are undertaking to work up, in full collaboration with host governments and civil society, a Joint Framework of Action to make good on the commitments announced today, in time for COP 23 in November.” 

Buyers, producers and traders including Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Company, Cargill, CEMOI, ECOM, Ferrero, The Hershey Company, Mars Incorporated, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Olam and Touton have all agreed to the Joint Framework of Action.

Under the pledges, companies will agree to invest in more sustainable forms of land management, create active partnerships to protect and restore forests and invest in programmes for cocoa productivity that benefits the livelihoods of small-scale cocoa farmers.

The 12 companies will now implement a planning and consultation process with governments, including the Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana which are the world’s leading producers of cocoa, NGOs and stakeholders to build the framework in time for its unveiling at COP 23 later this year.

Industry insight

Cocoa prices have tumbled to their lowest level for more than three years, and are closing in on the Fairtrade minimum price of $2000 per tonne, which the Foundation established at a safety mechanism for its farmers. In turn, this places pressures on the farmers to produce larger quantities, often at the cost of yield quality and damage to the environment.

Fortunately, some of the 12 members of the commitment have highlighted how heightened supply chain transparency can promote sustainability and economic gains in sourcing countries. More than 76,000 farmers have seen a significant increase in their income and cocoa yield as result of a global sustainable sourcing programme launched by Mondelēz International.

“We announced our commitment to lead private sector action addressing deforestation in cocoa farming areas at the UN climate summit, COP 21. I am delighted that the cocoa sector has now agreed to work together to tackle this issue,” Mondelēz Europe’s executive vice president Hubert Weber said.

Nestlé became one of the first companies to adopt the new UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) Reporting Framework, which will permit external stakeholders to monitor its supply chain. The firm has identified a list of 11 key human rights issues at risk of negative impacts through its business activities in order to meet growing expectations for more transparency.

“We welcome this initiative as a way of bringing industry, governments and other stakeholders together to tackle the challenging issues of forest degradation and deforestation in cocoa growing communities. As a company committed to ending deforestation in our supply chain, we at Nestlé look forward to agreeing actions with others that will make a tangible difference in affected areas,” Nestlé’s global head of confectionary Sandra Martinez said.

In 2015, Mars Bars containing Fairtrade-certified cocoa went on sale in the UK for the first time. The rollout followed the announcement that Mars UK had become the first UK company to commit to Fairtrade’s new Cocoa Sourcing Program.

“At Mars, we are fully committed to creating a sustainable cocoa supply chain and deforestation continues to be a significant threat. Industry, NGOs along with governments have a role to play and we are determined that this initiative will be the first of many industry efforts to address this crucial issue,” Mars Chocolate’s president of global retail Blas Maquivar said.

Matt Mace

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