Meet Evelyn Nassar, Director of the Cocoa Horizons Foundation. Evelyn joined Barry Callebaut 15 years ago and led the Market Intelligence, Mergers and Acquisitions and Investor Relations functions. She is passionate about travels, food and crazy about chocolate! What she loves about her role is the privilege to work with a lot of talented people from a diverse background and multicultural environment, all with the same target: to improve cocoa farming communities livelihoods.
Evelyn, today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Barry Callebaut. We know that 25 years ago, consumer interest and awareness on sustainability was much less than it is now. What about Barry Callebaut? What was happening 25 years ago?
“25 years ago, I was still at University and indeed sustainability, unfortunately, was not as relevant as it is today. When I joined the company 15 years ago, I was joining a company with a long-standing commitment to improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers, but very few customers commenced their sustainability journey. In 2012, sustainability was added as a fundamental pillar to the corporate strategy of Barry Callebaut, with a clear business goal. We knew that ‘business as usual’ just could not continue. In addition, Barry Callebaut could leverage its presence in so many origin countries by having direct access to farmers and their communities - we did, and still do, have a phenomenal amount of ‘boots on the ground’.”
Since then, we saw a growing interest from customers and consumers, the market has evolved and sustainability started to become an imperative and not an option anymore. How has Barry Callebaut responded to this change?
“In 2015 we launched the Cocoa Horizons Foundation, as an independent organization, with the objective to add transparency to the use of the sustainability premiums. It was also with a willingness to meet customer expectations on independence, transparency and impact. With Cocoa Horizons, we make sure that we are addressing the key issues in the cocoa supply chain in an efficient way and report on impact consistently. We are also helping our customers to explain it to their consumers in a simple way, to address their concerns and value their sustainability efforts.
Talking about Forever Chocolate, can you tell us why this came in 2016, not earlier, not later?
“I would say two things, one, we were not starting from scratch, and two, it was perfect timing. Barry Callebaut came from a long history of sustainable cocoa sourcing, which included participating in national and international policy forums on the topic of cocoa sustainability. On an industry level, Barry Callebaut was one of the driving forces behind the World Cocoa Foundation establishing CocoaAction to align initiatives of global chocolate producers to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers. Building on the foundations of these types of initiatives, Barry Callebaut launched Forever Chocolate; a strategy to scale up not just our own, but the industry’s efforts too.
Having such ambitious targets has given an extra push inside of the company to move things forward faster."
How is Barry Callebaut supporting customers today?
“Barry Callebaut aims to address all customer needs, while offering solutions that help farmers and are aligned with the strategy. We offer multiple sustainable cocoa solutions. With Cocoa Horizons, we have a diverse offer including mass balance but also a fully segregated and traceable offer with Cocoa Horizons Inside. Recently, we developed an offer for customers willing to support a living income for farmers, with Cocoa Horizons Plus.
As you know, not only cocoa is a sensitive raw material, a lot of challenges are there for other ingredients like dairy, sugar, vanilla or palm oil. Consumers are more and more aware and they want more transparency about the provenance of the ingredients and guarantees that they are sourced in respect of people and the planet. Barry Callebaut is therefore developing solutions to address these concerns.”
Looking now 25 years forward, what challenges do you see and what are you most excited about?
“In 25 years from now, I imagine sustainable cocoa and chocolate as the norm since for several years already, there will be no conventional volume available anymore. Farmers will be having a decent living out of cocoa with higher productivity levels, no deforestation and no child labor or forced labor. The focus might still be around climate change and ensuring supply for the future at attractive prices for our customers and for all stakeholders in the industry.”