Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa hails supply traceability gains in annual report

The Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa (SWISSCO) has unveiled its latest annual report, detailing key achievements including its members committing to full supply chain traceability for imported products, writes Neill Barston.

As the multi-stakeholder organisation explained, its mission remains one of bringing together companies in the country for the benefit of the entire value chain, including chocolate manufacturers, cocoa traders, food retailers, and public sector bodies.

Its board includes representation from confectionery group Barry Callebaut, Chocosuisse association of chocolate manufacturers, and the country’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Underlined in its latest 2020 report, SWISSCO has set an interim target of achieving 80% of all cocoa imported to Switzerland to be sustainably sourced by 2025, with latest figures revealing businesses in the sector had already closed in on the target, attaining a level of 74% of cocoa bean products (up 17% on 2019) through established certified channels.

This figure was even higher for pure cocoa beans (96% were from sustainably produced sources), with 59% of cocoa butter imported from sustainable production locations.

The organisation’s mission is based on its ten strategic goals as described in the Declaration of Intent from the founding of the Platform in 2018, which formed a part of the implementation of the Global Cocoa Agenda (GCA) within the country.

Since then, the activities and engagement of each Swiss-based stakeholder from the different member sectors build upon these strategic goals, sharing the responsibility to help promote systemic change.

By 2030, the members of the SWISSCO are committed to making a measurable contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals by implementing the associations six Principles for Sustainable Cocoa: this includes promotion of  decent living conditions and the contribution to a living income for cocoa farmers and their families.

Furthermore, it aims to prevent the worst forms of child labour, as well as preventing deforestation and sourcing from protected areas and promotion of forest restoration.

Its additional goals include promotion of climate smart agriculture and on-farm biodiversity, increasing farm productivity and profitability, as well as promotion of participation, partnership and transparency along the cocoa value chain.

Notably, the organisation’s members are actively participating in the development and implementation of innovative solutions with systemic impact. By the end of 2020, 90’747 farmers, whereof 28% women were reached by the fourteen value chain projects from the Platform’s two Calls for Proposals from
2018 and 2019.

The members of the SWISSCO are engaged in thematic working groups to increase the exchange of knowledge and learnings and to develop and apply coherent approaches and best practices. Learning events and
workshops are organised, which are open to all platform members.

Collaborative approach

Showing its ability to work collaboratively, in 2020, the Platform has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the German Initiative for Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) and the Belgian Platform Beyond Chocolate. The Dutch Initiative for Sustainable Cocoa (DISCO) joined the MoU in early 2021.

Commenting in the foreword to the report, Filippo Veglio, President of SwissCo said: “We are pleased to report a net increase of 19 percent in the proportion of sustainable cocoa bean equivalents imported into Switzerland from 2019 to 2020. Today, more than 74% of these imports are now sustainably sourced, either by a certified
sustainability standard or by an independently verified company sustainability program.

“This shows us that despite the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Swiss industry players are strengthening and further developing their sustainability goals. As you know, we remain determined to increase this sourcing rate to at least 80% by 2025.

“Furthermore, our Platform was able to find answers to the difficult situation in the handling of projects in partner countries. Our sincere appreciation goes to project partners in Africa and Latin America, who did their best to support the cocoa farmers in the crisis situation and, where necessary, to provide emergency aid. Despite extensive travel and assembly bans, the implementation of a total of 14 projects across 7 countries reached more than 90,000 cocoa farmers, a third of whom are women.”

He added that this stood as a  testament to the partnership and innovation spirit characterising its platform in view of tackling the persisting challenges of poverty, child labour, climate change, and biodiversity loss in
the cocoa value chain.


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