Nestlé UK ends partnership with Fairtrade, moves to Rainforest Alliance certification

UK – Nestlé UK and Ireland has announced that from October 2020, it will move to the Rainforest Alliance certification for cocoa sourced for the KitKat brand, marking the end of the company’s partnership with the Fairtrade Foundation.

The food and confectionery company said that migrating to the Rainforest Alliance certification will harmonise its cocoa sourcing accreditation  as part of the world’s largest food and beverage company global commitment to sustainably source all its cocoa through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025.

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As part of the new agreement, Nestlé said that it will provide financial assistance to cocoa farmers, in addition to investing US$1.25 million in an industry-first living income pilot and a further US$624,000 in community projects, as the partnership with Fairtrade Foundation ends.

Through its expanded Cocoa Plan programme and partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, the company added that it will continue working to improve livelihoods and productivity in cocoa-growing communities. 

While the new partnership has drawn criticism particularly at a vulnerable time for the 16,000 small cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast that KitKat buys its cocoa from, Nestlé noted that it will provide financial support to enable Fairtrade farmers to certify their farms to the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard, if they wish.

The company also said that it will be maintaining the same level of cocoa spend for the 2020-21 season and investing in a series of initiatives to support farmers and cocoa growing communities over the next two years.

“We are aware that the move will have an impact on some farmers, and we are working hard to mitigate this,” said Simon Billington, Global Technical Manager for Nestlé Confectionery.

“We want to continue working with our Fairtrade farmers and we will pay for them to get to the level required by the UTZ standard, which since 2018 has been part of the Rainforest Alliance certification programme. If farmers are not able to do this in time for the next crop, we will also provide them with financial support for the coming year,” Billington explained.

Nestlé expects to buy 7,000 metric tons of cocoa in the 2019-20 season that ends September 30, and plans to spend the same for the following season, reports MarketWatch. For the 2020-21 cocoa season, Nestlé said it expects to pay US$420,000 for the Rainforest Alliance premium, and that it will spend about US$490,000 to help farmers transition to the certification.

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“Our successful partnership with Fairtrade is ending as we harmonise our certification for sustainable sourcing internationally,” Billington commented.

“The Rainforest Alliance has significant experience working with cocoa farmers in understanding and implementing robust sustainability criteria that drives positive change, and we look forward to deepening our collaboration in the coming years.”

The move comes as the business is striving to invest more in sustainably sourced cocoa and harmonises certification for confectionery products within its global portfolio.

Over the past decade, Nestlé said that it has invested over US$224 million in the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, which currently delivers 200,000 tonnes of certified sustainable cocoa annually.

Through the plan, the Swiss food and beverage giant noted that it has expanded its efforts to include providing more disease-resistant trees to cocoa communities, working to reduce child labour and has trained 114,000 farmers on sustainable farming best practice since 2018.    

The company plans to ensure that 100% of the cocoa it uses for confectionery worldwide is sourced from the Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025.

Nestlé noted that its UK and Ireland business has sourced 100% certified, sustainable cocoa for its entire chocolate and biscuit portfolio since 2015, and this latest step will ensure consistency and security across the business’s global supply chain.  

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