Waitrose partners with Tony’s Chocolonely for ethical cocoa sourcing initiative

Nearly 72% of the cocoa sourced for Waitrose’s own-brand products last year was either Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified.

Waitrose has become the first UK-owned retailer to join the Tony’s Open Chain initiative, committing the retail giant to five sourcing principles, including enhanced traceability, paying the living income reference price for cocoa and building long term partnerships with partner cooperatives to support farmers and cocoa communities.

The full range of the sustainably sourced chocolate bars will be made available across all UK stores starting this week and will be recognisable by the yellow Tony’s Open Chain ‘button’ on the front of pack.

In becoming a ‘Mission Ally’ to Tony’s Open Chain initiative, Waitrose has joined the likes of global brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Albert Heijn, as well as UK brands such as Huel and Pleese.

Waitrose’s commercial director Charlotte Di Cello said: “We’re proud to be the first UK retailer to join Tony’s Chocolonely in their mission to end exploitation in cocoa, but we definitely hope we aren’t the last.

“Joining as a Mission Ally is crucial to helping set a new industry standard, in a world where sustainability is no longer optional but essential, we want to not just meet but exceed our customers’ expectations for responsibly and ethically sourced, high-quality food across the UK and international supply chains.”

Fair pay for cocoa farmers

Past research from Oxfam has found that approximately 90% of cocoa farmers in low-income countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast do not currently earn a living income.

Instead, they receive an average of 6% of the profits from each bar of chocolate sold in the Global North, putting them at risk of malnutrition, a lack of access to education and medical care, and the pressure to enrol children in work to make ends meet.

Waitrose is committed to certifying all cocoa used in its own-brand products as Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance, given that these schemes focus on ensuring sustainable agriculture, responsible land use and fair wages for the workers within its supply chain.

Nearly 72% of the cocoa sourced for Waitrose’s own-brand products is either Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified, per the retail giant’s own sustainability reporting.

According to Tony’s, all cocoa sourced through its Open Chain initiative is Fairtrade-certified and deforestation-free.

Waitrose has paid an additional premium on top of the Fairtrade certified bean price to reach the Living Income Reference Price, which ensures that the farmers with a sustainable productivity level can receive a living income from the sales of their crop, as it is usually difficult for farmers to invest in sustainable production while providing fair wages to their workers.

Tony’s Open Chain’s head of sales Sanne Van Zon-Arts said: “Waitrose will pave the way for changing the norm in cocoa and offering consumers more opportunities to choose responsible chocolate for which farmers are paid the living income reference price.”

Editor’s note: A previous edition of this article stated that Waitrose was the first UK retailer to work with the Tony’s Open Chain Initiative. However, Aldi, which has more than 1,000 UK stores, became the first in 2021.

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