An effective sustainability strategy has to incorporate a robust government-mandated traceability system, one that combines industry data with government data and is made accessible to all stakeholder groups.
What are the benefits of sector-wide traceability?
Tackling the complexity of the cocoa sector and enabling full traceability requires multi-stakeholder commitment and action, connecting origin and consuming countries to cooperate closely on a broad spectrum of necessary actions. These include precise mapping of farms through polygon mapping, data collection on farmer communities and the setup of human rights and environmental risk assessments.
Outlining the boundaries of a farm through polygon mapping helps establish its proximity to forests and potential risks of expansion into protected areas. Combining this information with additional data on the farmer, their family and the community gives a solid picture of what specific farms need to transition to sustainable agricultural practices. These datasets are a cornerstone in developing robust risk assessments for environmental and human rights abuses in compliance with upcoming due diligence legislation, thus advancing efforts to tackle the main sustainability challenges in the cocoa sector.
At the same time, we are focusing on developing projects that aim to transfer our traceability know-how from our direct to our indirect supply chain. In 2021, we conducted a pilot program with three key indirect suppliers in Côte d’Ivoire. This initiative involved training our suppliers to enable precise and timely data collection.
As a result of this program, nearly 35,000 farmers were engaged, with polygon data collected for over 18,000 farmers representing around 20,000 cocoa plots covering 45,000 hectares in total. Through this project, we have gained a great deal of insights into the current maturity level of traceability among local indirect suppliers and how we can best assist them to further improve and scale up their traceability efforts. As a next step, we plan to onboard an additional 9 suppliers and the cooperatives they source from.
These developments echo calls launched since 2019 by Barry Callebaut together with the European Cocoa Association, other companies and NGOs requesting that the European Union introduce legislation setting a due diligence obligation on all companies that place cocoa or cocoa products on the EU market. We are happy to see that our vision and accompanying advocacy work are yielding results and are supporting the development of a level playing field for all companies.
We are proud to be a leading company on implementing traceability – and to see the benefits of combining regulatory and industry initiatives in origin and consuming countries. These coordinated efforts will streamline the advancement of sustainability in the cocoa sector and support making sustainable chocolate the norm.