World Chocolate Day offers a pause for reflection

This latest entry is very much devoted to marking World Chocolate Day, which comes as markets around the globe continue with numerous challenges that have been a feature of our lives for nearly 18 months amid the pandemic.

Despite such tests, there have been some genuine positives in terms of new product development emerging – which, according to studies from Mintel, has been impacted by the complexities of trading conditions at present, yet there are some encouraging signs.

With the likes of Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Puratos and Mondelez all launching new chocolate-based products or ingredients over the past year, it’s clear there’s a desire from within industry to keep pushing momentum in responding to consumer demands.

One area that is rightly continuing to attract attention within the public’s consciousness is that of sustainable and ethical sourcing, which comes especially under the spotlight today (July 7), with Fairtrade’s Bitter Sweet video campaign, highlighting the need for even greater transparency within supply chains, and enhanced economic and social support for farmers in the cocoa industry.

It’s an issue that’s not going away in a hurry, having been central to many companies’ policies over the past two decades, delivering true sustainability for the sector is a pressing issue that still has some way on its journey to achieve its core goals of a fairer system for all involved.

As we have previously reported, the topic was perhaps most obviously spelt out with research from Mondelez International last October, that revealed the true scale of the inequality that exists with regard to cocoa farming in West Africa. According to the company’s findings, there existed a huge $10 billion gap in funding agricultural workers in the region to ensure they attained a living wage. This eye-watering sum will no doubt have been placed under even greater strain amid the pandemic.

But owing to the work of Fairtrade and many other civil society groups and organisations, it’s an issue that is more than likely to remain front and centre for the sector, so it is encouraging to hear that while there remain major challenges ahead that we can all reflect on for World Chocolate Day, this year of the UN’s eradication of child labour is likely to prove a critical one indeed for securing the industry’s long-term future.

Neill Barston,editor, Confectionery Production

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Confectionery Production