Nestlé and Barry Callebaut join signatories calling for EU action on deforestation

Major confectionery industry groups Nestlé and Barry Callebaut have joined a total of 11 leading food sector players backing calls for EU action to stem “an alarming rate” of deforestation, which has been linked to commercial commodity supply chains, reports Neill Barston.

As Confectionery Production has previously covered, cocoa production serving the chocolate sector has been clearly identified as having had a major impact on the loss of primary forests in key producing nations of Ghana and Ivory Coast.

The issue has come increasingly under the microscope in recent years within the sector, as businesses seek to deliver on key sustainability targets relating to ethical, environmentally sound sourcing and transparency of operating.

This culminated with the CFI (cocoa and forests agreement), signed by over 35 key confectionery and cocoa groups, alongside west African governments, initiated by the World Cocoa Foundation, in 2017. While progress has been made, a satellite-based mapping study conducted by environmental group Mighty Earth noted that the region remained under pressure from deforestation – with Ivory Coast having lost 25% of its primary forests in the last two decades alone due to agricultural activity, and other issues including incidents of illegal mining within forests that has further worsened the situation.

Nestlé noted that the joint approach of the signatories – which includes French retail firm Carrefour, UK supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Tesco, as well as Germany’s Metro group, have called on the EU to put in place measures to scale up the use of innovative technologies to improve supply chain traceability, as well as stronger cooperation with producing countries to ensure that forests are protected and restored.

As the joint statement from the 11 businesses noted, despite gains made in tackling deforestation, it has continued at a concerning level. The group noted that the major issue does not only impact the climate – it is also linked to biodiversity loss and an increased risk of pandemics, making it an especially urgent problem to resolve.

The signatories to the statement also noted that supply chain traceability and transparency for at-risk commodities is fundamental to driving systemic change. As stated in the European Green Deal, as the world’s largest single market, the European Union (EU) can set standards that apply across global value chains.

Therefore, the group believed the EU is therefore in a strong position to promote more sustainable sourcing of commodities globally through trade, noting that the 27-strong bloc of nations has actively been promoting trade as a tool to foster sustainability both globally and within trade partner countries, including in the vision laid out by the European Green Deal.

Nestlé’s decade-long experience in eliminating deforestation in its key supply chains has shown that no single approach can do it all. As of December 2020, over 90% of the key commodities the company buys (including cocoa) were assessed as deforestation-free through a combination of tools, including supply chain mapping and disclosure, on-the-ground verification, and satellite monitoring.

As the business acknowledged, knowing where commodities originate from helps identify and tackle deforestation where it occurs. It also helps to ensure that all actors step up, be accountable and actively protect forests.

In addition to achieving transparent supply chains, more collective action between companies, governments and civil society is needed to end deforestation. This collective action will be incentivised if there is a clear set of rules that pushes companies to take impactful action on the ground to protect human rights and the environment.

More intense dialogue between major consumer and producing countries, as well as steering flows of finance and investment towards sustainable activities and supply chains, will both be essential to ensure a fair international trade system.

Today’s statement builds on a joint position paper co-signed by Nestlé and over 50 other companies and non-profits in December 2020, calling on for the EU to tackle the different factors that drive deforestation and impact the livelihoods of farmers and their communities.

Nestlé added that it will continue to work with all stakeholders and share its leading experience in supply chain transparency, traceability, and implementing its goal of delivering a forest positive strategy to protect and restore forests, and ensure sustainable food production and thriving communities.




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