Swiss cocoa business Ecom targets 100% traceability of crop supplies by 2025

Swiss-headquartered Ecom cocoa and ingredients supplier has unveiled its Smarter Cocoa Charter, linked to its first ever sustainability report targeting key environmental goals within its operations, writes Neill Barston.

The group, which has extensive supply chain connections within the confectionery sector, with its study based upon three major pillars including protecting farmer livelihoods, regenerating nature, as well as managing business changes through delivering on transparency targets.

Among its core targets for this is a drive to achieve 100% traceability for all beans purchased through its supply chains by the end of 2025, which it believed would make a major difference to its business. It is also aiming to deliver net zero emissions as a company by 2050.

As the firm explained to Confectionery Production, one of the core ambitions for its charter includes a commitment to train 100% of farmers within its origin-sourced supply chain, identified as at high risk of negative impacts of climate change, in climate-smart agriculture by the end of 2025.

Climate-smart techniques are catered to farmers’ specific needs, and can include training on good soil management, pest control and shade management. To help diversify income and enhance climate resilience, the Charter also sets a goal to establish agroforestry models – farming systems to help enhance forest cover, sequester carbon, and improve biodiversity and soil health – and monitoring systems in 100% of the company’s origin-sourced supply chains by the end of 2023.

Nicolas de Wasseige, Deputy CEO of Cocoa at ECOM, said: “With more than 170 years of experience as a commodity trader, ECOM is deeply familiar with the social and environmental challenges that come with trading raw agricultural materials within complex global supply chains. Our Smarter Cocoa Charter creates a clear framework by which we can focus our efforts and track our progress towards a sustainable future for farmers and the planet.”

Furthermore, the charter commits ECOM to achieve Net Zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2050 following the Science Based Targets Initiative. At the farm level, ECOM distributed over 7 million multipurpose trees (including fruit and timber trees) in 2021, with the support of clients, helping to combat deforestation as well as diversify income for farmers and contribute to poverty reduction.

Guus de Gruiter, Deputy CEO of Cocoa at ECOM, said: “The Smarter Cocoa Charter is the first phase in our ambition to build a smarter future for cocoa. As we take the next steps in our journey, our focus will be on continually improving sustainability performance throughout our beans, products and processing operations, and elevating the position of sustainability across our business.”

Notably, the company added that the charter and Cocoa Sustainability Report also demonstrate ECOM’s efforts to improve farmer livelihoods. In addition, the business implemented the Social Progress Index and Gender Equity Index in 2021 to assess social health and gender disparities within its cocoa farming supply chain. According to the company, this initiative has reportedly been successfully piloted in Ghana and Peru to support the company to strategically close the gender equity gaps and empower women, with a goal to roll this out across ECOM’s origin-sourced supply chain by the end of 2025.

Pamela Schreier, Senior Global Cocoa Sustainability Manager at Ecom, added: “We’re thrilled to be launching ECOM’s first cocoa sustainability report in reference to GRI Standards. Through our years of intensive, on-the-ground experience we have learnt that supporting and engaging with farmers is fundamental to addressing the challenges facing cocoa growers today. Last year, in co-operation with our clients and donors, we provided training and services to over 200,000 farmers, supporting their income and helping them future-proof their farming techniques.”

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