Zurich, Switzerland — Barry Callebaut Group has implemented various sustainability projects with partners around Region Americas.
Last year, the company was recognized by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), the gold standard for environmental reporting, for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, awarding it with an “A-” for the fifth consecutive year.
In California, Barry Callebaut partnered with Project Apis m.’s Seeds for Bees, helping contribute to healthy soil and attract pollinators by planting cover crops between almond trees.
Cover crops are native foliage that are planted in between rows of crops to improve soil health by providing nutrients, reducing erosion, improving water stewardship and controlling weeds. Cover crops allow farms to persist through unpredictable weather patterns while positively contributing to the health of local pollinating insects.
Barry Callebaut’s partnership with Seeds for Bees is projected to plant over 780 cover crops, impacting 1593 acres of almond crops and 3186 honey bee colonies in Fiscal Year 22/23, according to the company.
The company also launched an innovative program with a Michigan-based company, Regenerative Connections catalyzing peer-to-peer led regenerative agriculture in the supply chain by supporting farmers to plant cover crops, and replant native vegetation to support biodiversity. This collaboration has led to the conversion of 100 percent sustainable ingredients for Barry Callebaut’s US-brand Van Leer.
In Brazil and Mexico, Barry Callebaut is partnering with local farmers to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 12 to 25 percent per year and increase sugarcane yields.
“One of the biggest opportunities to improve our environment is to reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” Kevin Ogorzalek, senior manager, sustainability sourcing Americas says. “By using biological amendments and compost, we significantly reduce the use of chemicals and are seeing not only increased sugarcane yields and decreased GHG emissions, but improvement to water quality too. These practices can be scaled for a huge impact.”
Additionally, the company has begun reforesting around its Mexico-supplying sugarcane mill and plans to expand the reforestation program to two other mills in the region.
According to the company, the environmental challenges chocolate manufacturing companies like Barry Callebaut experience are faced first-hand by the cocoa farmers.
“It takes a lot of manual labor that farmers can’t always afford if they want a high yield, and the crop can be taxing on forests around them,” Raony Penteado, commercial sustainability manager at Barry Callebaut said. “That’s why it’s important for us to support farmers in ensuring they can produce as much as they can while also preventing deforestation.”
Native to Brazil’s Amazon, cocoa seedlings are being widely adopted in landscape restoration projects through agroforestry and consortiums. Barry Callebaut is helping to prevent deforestation and restore degraded landscapes as well as increase the productivity on existing cocoa farms by subsidizing cocoa seedlings from its Cocoa Horizons-certified nursery in Itabuna, Brazil.
These seedlings are bred to be resistant to a variety of pests and diseases that affect cocoa production. The nursery already has the capacity to produce 2 million per year with ambitions to increase the output volume to 6 million seedlings per year.
In 2020, Barry Callebaut also kicked off a digital payment program with large-scale farmers in Ecuador that has allowed many experienced farmers to be paid on delivery.
“Supporting our farmers is equally as important as supporting the environment. It’s imperative that our farmers have the tools necessary for prospering crops, and we have the ability to assist them in receiving those tools,” Penteado adds