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Progress report: Transforming our cocoa supply chain to be deforestation-free

December 22, 2020

Across all five countries where Cargill directly sources our cocoa, as well as in the indirect cocoa supply chain, we are making strong progress on delivering our Protect Our Planet strategic action plan.

The plan was introduced in 2018 – one year after we made our Protect Our Planet commitment – and outlines how Cargill will eliminate deforestation from our cocoa supply chain by 2030 in five key areas:

  1. Supply chain transparency
  2. Supplier engagement
  3. Transforming together with others
  4. Reporting and sharing
  5. Through our Cargill Cocoa Promise programs

The Protect Our Planet strategic action plan is being implemented across Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia as well as in the indirect cocoa supply chain. The Protect Our Planet goals are aligned with Cargill’s company-wide commitment to transform our supply chains to be deforestation-free . 

Forests play a critical role in mitigating climate change, conserving biodiversity, providing livelihoods for millions of farmers and securing food supply for a growing global population.

“Balancing the production of cocoa with the protection of forests is one of the most pressing challenges in the cocoa industry,” said Sebastiaan van der Hoek, forest advisor for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. “We’re taking concrete actions to protect the environment, secure the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and ensure a thriving sector for generations to come.”

Here are a few highlights of progress over the past year:

Increased transparency of our supply chain and our progress

Cargill launched CocoaWise™, a digital portal that helps customers better understand the origin of the ingredients they source from Cargill. CocoaWise™ is fed from a suite of Cargill digital tools and data including geolocations of farms, cooperatives and buying stations in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon that supply our sustainable cocoa. The interactive map in which we list our Cargill Cocoa Promise Sourcing Partner Network was referenced in a practical guide for companies published by World Wildlife Fund, Proforest and Tropical Forest Alliance as an example of how supply chain companies can publicly share geospatial data of their supply chain.

To advance transparency within our indirect supply chain, we are rolling out a due diligence system which includes supply chain mapping at the sub-national level as well as identifying policy and system gaps.

We have also stepped up our efforts to increase transparency across our supply chain. In March 2020, we published our first annual Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI) progress report, showing how we have advanced our CFI multi-year action plan.

Leading collaborative solutions

Cargill’s multi-stakeholder approach and close collaboration with our customers is core to our sustainability progress. In Brazil, for example, we are partnering with the non-profit organization Imaflora on two projects in Pará that are expected to help a combined 300 farmers boost production and incomes while restoring degraded areas and protecting lands under the Brazilian Forest Code.

In Ghana, we are training farmers on climate-smart cocoa best practices and joined a consortium for landscape scale action facilitated by Proforest that delivered baseline studies in the Asunafo-Asutifi landscape.

Over the past year in Côte d’Ivoire, with PUR Projet, we reached 1,683 farmers in nine farmer organizations with community-based agroforestry to help restore ecosystems, enhance carbon sequestration, improve livelihoods and increase the resilience of cocoa plantations. Together with our partner IMPACTUM we have planted over 580,000 shade trees thus far.

Thanks to the Cargill commitments made in Belgium and through the support of Beyond Chocolate, together PUR Projet and Empow’her will further promote agroforestry and support community-level microenterprises with the marketing and commercialization of agroforestry products

To increase understanding of the complex drivers of deforestation and enablers for success across the sector, we are sharing data-based insights. For example, Cargill, PUR Projet and the 1 for 20 Partnership teamed up to analyze the impact of agroforestry on household incomes in Côte d’Ivoire. Our findings are published in a joint paper and will play a key role in helping the industry scale agroforestry solutions.

Expanding technology

Around the globe, Cargill teams are equipped with tools that help assess deforestation risk and engage suppliers accordingly. In Indonesia, for example, GPS farm mapping and geospatial insights are helping to identify overlap with boundaries of protected areas, so we can link up farmers with authorities to determine community forest management arrangements under which cocoa production may be permitted. So far, we have mapped 72% of farmers across the Cargill Cocoa Promise farmer network.

The World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch Pro is helping us assess forest cover change, with promising results. Our findings suggest that in line with country-level trends in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, primary forest loss on farms mapped in our supply chain decreased compared to the previous year.

To prevent cocoa-related deforestation going forward, we partnered with Descartes Labs to develop a deforestation alert system that combines optical and radar imagery to identify forest change in proximity to our supply chain with increased accuracy and more frequently, enabling us to take more targeted and timely action with our partners and stakeholders on the ground.

Looking ahead

In the year ahead, we will continue implementing our agroforestry partnership with PUR Projet, expand our joint ecosystem restoration efforts to Ghana and reach 2,700 new farmers and across 14 cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire to promote adoption of cocoa-agroforestry.

We want to be a leading company in applying and sharing our supply chain insights to help accelerate industry collaboration around the effective identification, mitigation and prevention of deforestation risks in cocoa supply chains. For example, next year we will:

  • Help drive the design of integrated landscape management solutions through the Green Landscapes program in collaboration with the Cameroon government and other stakeholders
  • Move into full implementation with Imaflora in Brazil and start reporting on field learnings
  • Ensure farmers in Indonesia receive the right support to manage their farms in accordance with environmental sustainability benchmarks

We will also continue to push for industry wide deforestation monitoring, dialogue and encourage harmonization of indicators. This is important so that our stakeholders can understand our collective impact. We also continue to work with certification standards to support implementation of their evolving requirements on forests. These collaborative efforts will play an important role in making forest friendly solutions work.

This is our second annual Protect Our Planet progress update. You can read more about our progress in 2019 in our last update.