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Creating a more sustainable cocoa sector

Cargill joins first-of-its-kind global initiative to end cocoa supply chain deforestation

March 16, 2017

Cargill is committed to ensuring a sustainable cocoa supply chain by enabling farmers to produce more and improve their livelihoods. As part of Cargill’s broader commitment to end deforestation, the cocoa supply chain is taking steps to protect forests and focus production on existing farmland.

Traditionally, cocoa farms have been rich in biodiversity because cocoa trees were planted in shade amongst other crops and trees. Over time, this approach has become less common as farmers remove shade trees to make more land available. But by adopting more sustainable landscape approaches, farmers are improving the profitability and productivity of the land they already farm without having to encroach on new land.

To increase more sustainable approaches, 12 of the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate companies, including Cargill, joined on March 16, 2017, to address forest health at a first-of-its-kind global cocoa supply chain meeting organized by the World Cocoa Foundation, IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative and The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit, hosted in London by HRH The Prince of Wales.

As part of ongoing efforts to create a more sustainable cocoa sector and empower cocoa farmers economically, senior executives from this group of leading chocolate makers, cocoa buyers, producers and traders signed a statement of collective intent, committing to the development of a cooperative, multi-stakeholder framework to end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain. The initial focus of this collective work will be on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which account for close to 60 percent of the world’s cocoa supply.

Cargill’s ambition, outlined in its Cargill Cocoa Promise, is to accelerate progress towards a transparent global cocoa supply chain, enabling farmers and their communities to achieve better incomes and living standards, and deliver a sustainable supply of cocoa and chocolate products.

“We are committed to ending deforestation across our supply chains and are working with partners and governments to build a thriving cocoa sector,” said Taco Terheijden, director of cocoa sustainability for Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business. “In collaboration with World Resources Institute, we have conducted a baseline risk assessment of over 2.3 million hectares across 5 origin countries with GPS technology to prioritize interventions and advance sustainable landscape approaches to mitigate deforestation and protect biodiversity.”

The March 16 meeting will result in an actionable suite of measures to address deforestation in consultation with the relevant cocoa-producing country governments, civil society organizations and other stakeholders, to be announced at the UNFCCC’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) in November 2017.

This suite of measures will include greater investments in more sustainable forms of landscape management; more active efforts, in partnership with others, to protect and restore forests in the cocoa landscape; and significant investments in programs to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers working in the cocoa supply chain.

Collective action is vital to solving sustainability challenges in the cocoa sector, said Terheijden. “We’re building long-term partnerships to support our sustainability goals and those of our stakeholders,” he said. “We work with a large range of organizations from small, recently formed farmer cooperatives to our customers and suppliers, to financial institutions, national governments and international industry and sustainability organizations. The commitment we made today in London underscores our intent to continue working with a broad, diverse group of entities to end deforestation and forest degradation in our industry.”