SOUTH AFRICA – Leading retailer, Woolworths has marked a major milestone, achieving 100% responsibly sourcing of cocoa.
This means that all its branded chocolate and cocoa products from breakfast cereals, hot drinks, yoghurts and milkshakes to biscuits, cakes and desserts now contain only responsibly sourced cocoa.
As global supply chains have become more transparent, long-standing issues in the cocoa farming industry have come to light, including deforestation, child labour and the generational impoverishment of cocoa farming communities.
As part of its Woolworths Good Business Journey, the supermarket chain owner has been working towards responsible cocoa sourcing for a decade.
However initially, it was impossible for the company to achieve the goal as there was not enough certified cocoa by independent programmes.
In 2016 it began with 25% cocoa certified by the UTZ programme, which has since merged with Rainforest Alliance.
Due to demand and support, Woolworths was able to increase this to ensure that all its branded chocolate slabs, bars and boxes contained responsibly sourced cocoa.
Today, through four different sustainability programmes, Woolworths has reached its 100% responsibly sourced cocoa milestone.
Latiefa Behardien, Woolworths head of foods technology, safety and the Good Business Journey says, “Over the years, as we’ve worked towards achieving this 100% responsibly sourced cocoa target, we have partnered with specialist organisations that share our responsible sourcing values such as Rainforest Alliance/UTZ, Cocoa Life, Cocoa Horizons, Fairtrade and more.
“They meet our requirements in that they are independently verified; they support sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers and enable enhanced productivity; they promote environmentally sustainable cocoa agriculture and adherence to labour laws.”
Major global food processors utilizing cocoa as their raw material, have set out strategies to ensure the cocoa they use is sustainably sourced.
Recently, Nestle, unveiled a new plan, sharpening its focus on the root causes of child labour in cocoa farming communities.
At the center is an innovative income accelerator program which aims to improve the livelihoods of cocoa-farming families, while also advancing regenerative agriculture practices and gender equality through awarding certain practices.
To this end Nestlé will be incentivizing enrolment of children in school, implementation of good agricultural practices such as pruning, performing agroforestry activities to increase climate resilience, and generation of diversified incomes through growing crops, among others.
With this approach, Nestle seeks to not only reward cocoa-farming families for the quantity and quality of cocoa beans they produce but also for the benefits they provide to the environment and local communities.
The incentives will encourage behaviour and agricultural practices that are designed to steadily build social and economic resilience over time.