BDSI reports gains for cocoa sustainability amid concerns over falling confectionery exports

The Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) has welcomed results from its latest study revealing 77% of product ranges sold in the country now use sustainably certified cocoa – up seven per cent from 2019, writes Neill Barston.

As the industry body noted, there has been key progress on the issue over the past decade since its first study on ethical sourcing in 2011 revealed just 3% of sales were verified from certified suppliers – which comes amid key concerns over the country’s vital global export markets within the sector, that are reportedly down for the first time in 20 years.

According to the BDSI, companies within the country’s confectionery sector have been particularly proactive in engaging on sustainable sourcing, which help improve the living conditions of the small farmers and their families, especially in West African core producing nations of Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Consequently, a significant number of German confectionery manufacturers participate in or even have their own projects and programs that enable communities to benefit from improved incomes, making cocoa cultivation more productive and more climate-resilient shape, protect the environment and combat deforestation as well as respecting the rights of all those in the supply chain.

The organisation added that certification remains an important building block for the development of sustainable cocoa farming, with Fairtrade (main image) and Rainforest Alliance accounting for a large portion of the products under ethical sourcing programmes. In addition, the BDSI noted that its involvement with the Sustainable Cocoa Forum, which was established in 2021 between manufacturers, retail and the federal government also had a strong part to play.

“In the first survey by the BDSI for 2011, this proportion was only approx. 3% and today it is 77%. This is a great achievement by the confectionery industry, which includes all company sizes and also plays a pioneering role on this issue. It underscores Germany’s efforts to achieve more sustainability in the cocoa sector,” explains Bastian Fassin, Chairman of the BDSI.

Concern over exports

While the BDSI noted progress made on sustainability, it has also expressed concern over the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has continued to impact on its key export market.

In 2020, a total of 2.2 million tonnes of confectionery and snacks were exported, representing a decrease in volume of 1.3% compared to the previous year, with overall export sales down 2.5% to around €8.5 billion.

“Unlike other crises, in spite of confectionery’s great diversity, the pandemic has hit export markets as a whole,” Fassin noted of the situation, which had seen a pattern of continued growth into 2019, before the pandemic impacted on markets around the world.

The BDSI said one of the main causes for the losses was down to restrictions on economic life for its most important target markets, with many countries imposing lockdown conditions that have adversely affected food retailing operations on a global level.

In addition, there have also been logistics issues, including  temporarily closed borders, including to the Czech Republic and Tyrol / Austria or before Christmas within the UK, with difficulties and delays in supply chains surrounding Brexit, which have previously been covered by Confectionery Production.

According to the BDSI’s latest survey of its industry members in January, 65% said the economic situation was worse than it was a year ago. While domestic sales of confectionery within German increased, this did not make up for the losses in export due to lost opportunities in travel retail and reduced gifting demand.




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