Barry Callebaut records progress against Forever Chocolate sustainability goals

Barry Callebaut has reported further progress against its ambitious Forever Chocolate campaign to help lift 500,000 cocoa farmers in its supply chain by 2025, writes Neill Barston

The company released its fourth update on its sustainability drive, which aims to contribute towards tackling major issues within the sector including moving towards eradication of child labour in the sector, becoming both carbon and forest positive, as well as seeking to have 100% sustainable ingredients across its portfolio.

CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique welcomed the work that had been done so far by colleagues, stating that “a new milestone in providing even greater transparency” had been achieved with the company’s disclosure of direct suppliers within Ghana and Ivory coast, which he said was crucial to its evolving sustainability mission.

Within its latest report, covering the fiscal year 2019/2020, the Swiss-headquartered business acknowledged that despite the ongoing challenge of the coronavirus pandemic which has affected the entire industry and those working within it across the full spectrum of the value chain, it believed that it had created projects capable of a scalable impact.

Key initiatives

As the company identified, one of its major contributions has been in creating a farm mapping system within the core West African markets that it deals with in Ghana and Ivory Coast, providing valuable data enabling enhanced traceability within the cocoa chain. This reached a total of 181,861 farmers with full data in 2019/20.

Consequently, the business used these datapoints to offer Farm Business Plans to cocoa farmers, consisting of tailor-made services such as tools, individual coaching and agricultural inputs to support and improve yields and farmer income. In 2019/20, the number of farmers who received Farm Business Plans (FBPs) grew to 41,178 (+153%). A total of 71,972  cocoa farmers have received farm service activities.

In addition, the business has also progressed with farmer training and coaching, the distribution of seedlings and trees, as well as providing agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, planting materials, crop and livestock diversification packages. In addition, we used our farmer network to distribute soap and public health authorities’ information on COVID-19. Innovation is one of the prerequisites for us to make progress on our Forever Chocolate targets.

On the major issue of child labour, the company rolled out its child labor monitoring and remediation systems based on the industry practice as developed by the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI).

In addition, this year the company confirmed that it had commenced the piloting of an innovative machine-learning model which combines the data from child labor monitoring and remediation systems with its farmer census data. Through this combination, its representatives are able to monitor the risk of children in a household to be involved in child labor, and identify those most in need of support.Significantly, as part of its 2025 commitment to end deforestation, the company also publicly disclosed its direct cocoa suppliers in Ghana and Ivory Coast, which further provides data for business transparency.

Speaking in the report, de Saint-Affrique added: “Despite the challenges of COVID-19 in 2019/20, thanks to the early adop­tion of precautionary measures and the dedication and teamwork of our employees, we continued to implement innovative projects. Our global Gour­met brands are now all sourcing 100% sustainable cocoa. By publicly disclos­ing our direct cocoa suppliers in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon, we have reached a new milestone in providing even greater transparency and trace­ ability in our cocoa supply chain. We managed to reduce our corporate CO2 equivalent (CO2e) footprint by –8.1%, and we trained close to 95,000 cocoa farmers on child labor awareness. Whereas a lot remains to be done, these data points illustrate our tangible impact.

“In addition to the impact we are generating in our operations, we are partnering for change. We called, together with other companies and NGO’s, on the European Union to introduce legislation on all companies that place cocoa or cocoa products on the EU market. We created together with Quantis the first carbon footprint assessment tool for cocoa farming, available for everyone who wants to use it. And we go beyond cocoa. In the past fiscal year, we took the lead in establishing the sustainable coconut charter. I am very proud that Forever Chocolate ranked #2 out of 182 assessed food and beverage companies in the annual Sustainalytics assessment. Our second consecutive top ranking.”

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