Barry Callebaut moves to enhance Forever Chocolate sustainability targets

The Barry Callebaut Group has asserted that its core Forever Chocolate programme geared around lifting 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty by 2025 remains on track, according to its latest assessment, reports Neill Barston.

Significantly, the company produced an expanded series of measurable targets covering the period up to 2030, in which it has stated it remains committed to helping drive systemic change required in core supply chain West African countries including Ivory Coast and Ghana, which have remained under pressure from low crop prices, and the ongoing cost of living crisis that has impacted notably on communities.

As the Swiss-headquartered business noted, its Forever Chocolate scheme, launched in 2016, is continuing on its path of engaging with cocoa growing communities through a series of initiatives including supporting farmers directly with training, empowering women in the labour market, as well as seeking to address ongoing issues of child labour and deforestation that remain a factor within the wider sector.

Notably, as the company acknowledges, for Forever Chocolate to become a reality, public intervention is required to drive structural change beyond Barry Callebaut’s direct supply chain. It recognises that an enabling policy environment and government action in origin countries is essential to address the issue of traceability, rural infrastructure development and proper enforcement of national policies and legislation.

Consequently, the company said it is focus on four key pillars for its core sustainability initiative. This includes a notion of creating “Prosperous farmers’ beyond its targets of 2025, through mobilising public and private stakeholders to  support and implement a transformative cocoa farming model generating living income.

To that goal, the business observed that the main struggle of cocoa farmers is access to investments in their farms. In response, Barry Callebaut is set to shift its focus going forward from training, to providing input support. This ranges from subsidised soil inputs, planting material, to financial support for third-party labor services and additional premiums. As the company noted, improving their quality yield per hectare remains key to lift smallholder cocoa farmers out of poverty and put them on a trajectory towards a living income.

Crucially, on the topic of human rights, the company confirmed that by 2025, its entire supply chain will be covered by due diligence frameworks, remediating all identified cases of child labour, with additional targets of 2030 for empowering communities further to protect young people from being exposed to hazardous labour. As it noted, this will require both private and public intervention to build the enabling infrastructure, foremost the establishment of Child Protection Committees at cocoa farmer community level and ensuring access to quality education.

Under the banner of thriving nature, the company is also seeking to improve its emission reduction trajectory to standards set  the Paris Climate Agreement, Barry Callebaut will focus increasingly on insetting CO2 through agroforestry, moving away from offsetting. This implies that by 2030, the business will have decarbonised its footprint in line with global efforts to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees. Following this ambitious trajectory, Barry Callebaut will be a net zero company by 2050. In addition to its carbon efforts, it has stated an intention to be ‘forest positive’ by 2025.

Finally, and equally noteworthy, its fourth pillar is one of sustainable ingredients, stating that by 2030, it will have 100% certified or verified  cocoa and ingredients in all of its products, traceable to farm level. Establishing industry-wide sustainability standards and programs is essential for the sustainable sourcing of raw materials, as certification is only the starting point. To this end, the company said it had been working with the industry over the past six years, including suppliers to define sustainability standards across its ingredients chain in relation to a wide range of sources including dairy, palm oil, coconut and nuts.

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