Mars, Mondelēz, Ferrero and Nestlé call on EU to urgently deliver cocoa due diligence

Leading confectionery companies including Mars, Mondelēz, Ferrero and Nestlé, have called on the EU to reverse its decision to delay implementing mandatory due diligence legislation governing key cocoa supply chains in West Africa, reports Neill Barston.

The collective group, which also includes premium chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely, and major food group Unilever, has expressed concern, as Brussels media reported that business lobbying groups convinced the European Commission to push-back introduction of much-heralded new legal powers to help improve the lives of farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

In a joint statement addressed to EU Commissioner Didier Reynders (Justice and consumers), and European Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, the confectionery firms sought immediate delivery of the proposed new legislation frameworks.

They said: “We remain strongly convinced that an EU-wide legal framework based on international standards would be beneficial for companies in the cocoa supply chain, including our own, mainly by clarifying a common framework through which all companies will be expected to proactively manage their potential and actual adverse impacts on human rights and the environment.

“Holding all companies to the same standard will help create a level playing field, eliminate free riders and close loopholes, provided that expert regulatory authorities are equipped with adequate powers and tools to ensure that all covered companies in fact establish and adequately maintain these systems.”

The statement added that a harmonised and predictable EU-wide legal framework is essential to ensure legal continuity for companies and enable them to focus on implementing actions on the ground together with supply chain partners to tackled systemic human rights and environmental challenges, rather than engaging in several compliance exercises in different member states.

It concluded by calling on the EU Commission to prioritise the adoption, without delay of EU measures to minimise the risk of placing products linked to deforestation on the EU market, as well as a proposal for an EU framework for mandatory due diligence.

According to media in Brussels, the Commission’s initial response was that it was delaying the legislation to ‘ensure a comprehensive preparation of the proposal’ and take into account differing perspectives on the major piece of legislation.

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