Could Barry Callebaut’s “Forever Chocolate” be the chocolate and cocoa supply chain game-changer?
The uncertain future of the cocoa supply chain
For more and more people, Christmas is the time of year when buying sustainable chocolate is a key concern. For some people, it’s more of a concern than at the next great chocolate holiday date, Easter.
For these people, and for the sustainability CSR team at Simply Sustainable, recent news that the world’s top chocolate and cocoa manufacturer, Barry Callebaut, has published its new sustainability strategy coined “Forever Chocolate” with the ambition to move sustainable chocolate from niche to norm in less than a decade, has made our festive season!
The CEO of Barry Callebaut has said that despite the company’s efforts, only 23% of the cocoa beans it sources are from sustainability programs. As a result, the business is now determined to address and change this in order to ensure that 100% of its chocolate and its ingredients are sustainably sourced by 2025.
For many years now, Barry Callebaut has been committed to improving the livelihood of cocoa farmers. The company has made “Sustainable Cocoa” one of the four pillars of its corporate growth strategy, and a great example of the company’s commitment to CSR.
What’s more, the company was also a founding member of the World Cocoa Foundation as well as the International Cocoa Initiative. And if that’s not enough, it was also one of the driving forces behind CocoaAction, the World Cocoa Foundation’s voluntary strategy to align the initiatives of global cocoa and chocolate producers to improve the livelihood of cocoa farmers.
Addressing the challenge for the Cocoa and Chocolate Market
But what we like about the “Forever Chocolate” initiative is that it’s not only aligned with existing efforts, but that it also recognizes the need to go the extra mile, given the predictions about the challenges that lie ahead for cocoa and the chocolate market.
Take what the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture has predicted, for example. It has warned that an expected annual temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius by 2050 will leave many of West Africa’s cocoa-producing areas too hot to grow the crop. Trees won’t be able obtain enough water during the growing season.
As a result, some farmers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast are already switching to palm oil or rubber. As a consequence, the Earth Security Group, a sustainability consulting company, says that if farmers continue to switch out of the crop at the same rate, the world could face a 1 million ton cocoa shortage by 2020, which goes against predictions of an excess supply.
But all this still doesn’t change the fact that campaigners continue to raise concerns about impoverishment and the use of child labour on cocoa farms. Around 2 million children work on cocoa plantations in Ivory Coast and Ghana, 500,000 of them in “exploitative conditions,” according to the European Campaign for Fair Chocolate. Farmers are also using out-dated farming methods and lack resources to invest in fertilisers or in replacing ageing trees past their peak productivity.
Predicting the future of the supply of cocoa is very uncertain, which every way you look at it.
Fortunately, many chocolate companies do recognise this and understand that, in no uncertain terms that now, more than ever, the long-term sustainability of the supply chain needs to be addressed.
This being so, we hope that “Forever Chocolate” will be the game-changer everyone in the chocolate supply chain everyone is looking for.
Once the world’s leading chocolate and cocoa manufacturer takes a lead on sustainability and stressed its urgency, we hope it sets a standard that others will follow and address.
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