Ferrero, Mars, Mondelez and Nestlé join Fairtrade in calls for EU cocoa supply chain due diligence

Cocoa farming in West Africa, pic Koa/Ben Rotthoff

Key confectionery groups including Ferrero, Mars Wrigley, Mondelēz International, Nestle and Tony’s Chocolonely have joined with Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance, and NGOs to push for EU legislation on mandatory due diligence relating to deforestation in cocoa supply chains, reports Neill Barston.

The collective, which also includes other stakeholders such as the Voice Network, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, and the International Cocoa Initiative, have revealed major proposals for creating a framework for delivering positive environmental impact, which will drive change in critical markets including Ghana and Ivory Coast.

As the group of companies noted in its joint position paper, it first announced its proposals two years ago, and believed that  the introduction of mandatory EU-wide due diligence legislation can have a central role in driving the necessary transformation of the cocoa and chocolate sector.

Significantly, the collaboration welcome the two processes currently under way within the European Commission to introduce legislative proposals for due diligence – though as Confectionery Production previously noted, these have reportedly suffered schedule setbacks due to industrial lobbying over terms.

Crucially, the combined group also supports the introduction of a general obligation on companies to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence across their entire operations and supply chains, and it hopes to see this
included in the legislative initiative on sustainable corporate governance, including corporate due diligence, led by DG Justice & Consumers (the EU Commission).

In a joint statement, the group said: “We call on this legislation to require companies to work with their suppliers and supply-chain partners, especially in producer countries to identify, address and report on risks in their supply chains rather than abandon or avoid high-risk sources of cocoa.

The criteria underlying the due diligence obligation should aim to ensure respect for human and labour rights, rights of land tenure and access, the laws of the producer country, and environmental sustainability. This includes explicit respect for the right to an adequate standard of living as a fundamental human right: a ‘living income’, to be understood as a precondition to access other human rights.

“We also call on DG Environment to come forward with proposals for due diligence legislation to minimise the risk of deforestation associated with cocoa products placed on the EU market, and to extend this to include forest degradation and ecosystem harm.”

As the group noted, pieces of legislation should be implemented as uniformly as possible across the EU, avoiding a
patchwork of different member state approaches, and should cover companies irrespective of their size – this is fundamental in the cocoa and chocolate sector to avoid distortion and maximise impact, given its fragmentation.

Furthermore, the group said this  should be enforced by government agencies with sufficient powers and resources, and contain dissuasive penalties and access to remedies, including provisions for civil liability, in order to help drive real change in the sector.

 

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