Exclusive: CAOBISCO’s president highlights need for combined sustainability action

The president of CAOBISCO, Aldo Cristiano, has offered a keynote address at the virtual World Confectionery Conference, placing a core emphasis on the need for the sector to deliver on key sustainability principles, writes Neill Barston.

With the cocoa and chocolate industry facing ongoing challenges over delivering on goals of tackling human rights issues such as child labour, improved payment of farmers, as well as key environmental measures addressing deforestation, he stressed that collective action was of critical importance.

Cristiano was appointed to his CAOBISCO post last summer, with the organisation representing the combined total of more than 13,000 confectionery, biscuits and chocolate businesses across Europe. He is also head of institutional affairs and sustainability for Ferrero in Germany.

His comments advocating combined industry action come as leading confectionery groups (including Ferrero, Nestle, Mars, Mondelez, as well as campaigning chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely), have called upon the EU commission to review its freshly announced decision delaying its previously announced plans to introduce mandatory due diligence in European cocoa supply chains.

As Cristiano noted, embracing sustainability is a priority for the confectionery industry. He acknowledged that CAOBISCO’s combined market segments depended heavily on the agricultural sector, across Europe, Africa, South America and Asia.

Consequently, the trade association president added that working together globally to find ways to improve sustainable supply chains represented a significant area of focus for his trade organisation.

Speaking at the event, which launched today (1 June, see here for registration and view his presentation in full), he said: “We have been pretty active participants in initiatives such as the recently launched cocoa talks in the context of the EU’s sustainable cocoa initiative, which provides stakeholders with a platform to work together to address deforestation, child labour and living income.

“As an industry, we fully understand that our future depends on the ability of all stakeholders to manage supply chains in ways that safeguard our planet, and protect and respect our people. Many of our members have private initiatives that empower farmers and their communities, to improve their income, become more productive, and climate resilient, protect the environment, and respect human rights.

“We believe that these initiatives need to be accompanied by due diligence systems to identify and address social and environmental risk and impact, and seeking greater transparency along the supply chain, ” remarked Cristiano.

He added that CAOBISCO members are supportive of an EU-wide due diligence approach, aligned with UN guiding principles of UN guidance on business and human rights, as well as wider global standards within supply chains advocated by the OECD-FAO (organisation for economic cooperation and development).

As Cristiano continued, ‘the EU must engage in dialogue with origin countries with the right framework needed to drive change’ which he said that this was a shared responsibility for the industry to provide a full strategy covering ‘farm to fork’ in its outlook.

Multiple solutions required

On the issue of deforestation, he acknowledged that a single solution could not in itself prove effective in delivering impact, and he believed it was vital that in order for commodity-based deforestation to be properly understood, then conditions in the respective producing nations as affecting land tenure, farm measurement crop yields and migration needed to be fully appreciated.

He noted that the latest Cocoa and Forests report (CFI) had demonstrated ‘real progress’ in terms of industry working together with civil organisations and regional governments to deliver change, moving towards ending deforestation.

In addition, he noted that there were also other issues relating to the use of palm oil, noting initiatives such as the RSPO organisation’s drive towards improving standards, as well as CAOBISCO’s own commitment to 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe.

On the equally pressing issue of child labour, Cristiano said the association had made key gains with the recent partnership signed with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with regard to the Turkish hazelnut industry, which he believed would provide long-term legislative and monitoring solutions.




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