Barry Callebaut Explores Ways To Drive Sustainability Commitments


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Wieze, Belgium — Using traceability as a cornerstone of its Forever Chocolate commitment to making sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025, Barry Callebaut Group is exploring collaborative ways to drive its sustainability commitments . 

Traceability to farm level plays a crucial role in addressing some of the structural sustainability issues in the cocoa supply chain, according to the company. Accurate insights into cocoa sourcing, gathered through polygon mapping and geo-localization based on satellite images, are imperative to eliminate deforestation from the cocoa supply chain.

However, establishing sector-wide traceability is no easy feat. According to the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), around half of world bean supply is sourced indirectly by cocoa and chocolate companies from independent exporters and traders, mostly due to the regulatory and licensing requirements in origin countries. This makes the development of effective traceability systems a multi-layered undertaking.

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. 

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.

Barry Callebaut has been publicly disclosing the geolocation of its direct suppliers in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon since 2019. In 2020 and 2021, a total of 240,570 farms located within 25 kilometers of a protected forest area were mapped and monitored. This has led to full traceability for cocoa beans originating from these farms. Overall, the company has reached 80 percent traceability to cooperative level and 60 percent to farm level. 

In the past decade, industry efforts have considerably increased to scale traceability across direct supply chains. The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have also been intensifying their efforts to support the upscaling of accountability in the indirect supply chain by registering and mapping farms and working on national traceability systems. 

“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,” Steven Retzlaff, president global cocoa, says.

The European Union, the world’s largest importer of cocoa, has also acknowledged the role of traceability in addressing structural issues in the cocoa supply chain by increasing regulatory requirements on deforestation and human rights and environmental due diligence. The upcoming EU legislation will require companies to set up systems to identify, prevent, mitigate and remediate adverse impacts that their activities have on human rights and on the environment. 

In recent months, Barry Callebaut has also collaborated with Conseil Café Cacao (CCC) in Côte d’Ivoire on a traceability trial project that has involved sharing farmer data for the region of Aboisso so that it can be merged with government-owned data. The aim of the trial project is to feed the learnings into the development of a consolidated national farm database, currently being built by the CCC.

“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,” Retzlaff adds. “These coordinated efforts will streamline the advancement of sustainability in the cocoa sector and support making sustainable chocolate the norm.”