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Our Sustainability Timeline: Mapping our milestones in cocoa sustainability

More than two decades of Cargill investment and direct involvement continues to contribute towards a more sustainable cocoa sector that benefits all.

Sustainability is integral to how Cargill operates as a company, including the broad portfolio of high quality cocoa and chocolate products that we deliver to our customers all around the world.

When we  first entered the cocoa sector, we immediately recognized the need to support farmers, their families, and the sector as a whole. After all, it is in everyone’s interests that the entire cocoa supply chain continues to become stronger, and more resilient. 

Our commitment to cocoa sustainability stretches back to 2000, when we began offering our first quality seminars to cocoa farmers. In 2012, we took this up a notch by launching the Cargill Cocoa Promise, which formalized and solidified sustainability efforts in our direct supply chain. Then in 2017, we went further still by adopting five Sustainability Goals that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our recent efforts include the launch of the Promise Solutions and CocoaWise™ Portal for customers. 

But these are just a few select milestones in our overarching sustainability journey that we’ve achieved together with you, our partners, and customers. 

We’re still on this journey together, but it’s important to recognize how far we’ve already come. 




Cargill’s cocoa sustainability journey starts in spring 2000 with the introduction of quality seminars in farmer organizations in Côte d'Ivoire aiming at improving their quality control related activities. Cargill spearheads such type of trainings in the cocoa industry. During these seminars, farmers are educated on the importance of improving the quality of their cocoa through good agricultural practices, in order to improve crop quality and yield, leading to increased incomes.


Cargill and CARE, whose partnership dates back more than 60 years, expand their collaboration to the cocoa supply chain, starting in Ghana. Their mutual goal is to support cocoa-growing communities with improved food security, better education for children, gender equality and diversified incomes. This will achieved through various activities such as provision of access to wider economic opportunities through Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). Additionally, the partnership aims to raise awareness on the different forms of child labor. In 2021, Cargill and CARE publish a report demonstrating the true impact of their partnership on cocoa-growing communities.

Read more Cargill has since initiated several phases of the cocoa programs. It has been expanded from Ghana to Côte d’Ivoire, and more recently to Indonesia. In 2019, Cargill and CARE announced the latest phase of collaboration aligned with CARE’s She Feeds the World initiative. This phase aims to improve education, nutrition, water access, sanitation and economic support for 2 million people in a number of agricultural supply chains, including cocoa, and across Central America, Africa and Asia.
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Cargill, as part of a multi-stakeholder group of companies and organizations, co-founds the UTZ cocoa certification standard. The standard’s aim is to ensure good agricultural, environmental and social practices in cocoa production. This enables small-scale farmers to improve their farming practices, and thereby achieve a higher quality crop with increase productivity. By 2019, UTZ had become the largest cocoa sustainability certification program in the world. Featuring more than 770,000 farmer members, it represents around 15% of the world’s cocoa production area.


As an evolution of the Quality Seminars program, Cargill introduces its first Farmer Field Schools. This program delivers a structured curriculum and delivery vehicle to help cocoa farmers increase productivity, improve crop quality, and ensure responsible social and environmental practices. Moreover, participation in Farmer Field Schools is a critical step in enabling farmers to achieve independent certifications, such as UTZ.


Cargill produces the first UTZ Certified sustainable chocolate and presents it to the Dutch market in the form of Easter eggs. The first UTZ Certified cocoa beans arrive in the Netherlands for processing in November 2009 following an intensive 10-month training program of 1,590 farmers from two cooperatives, run by Cargill. The first Certified beans are officially presented at the opening day of CHOCOA, the Amsterdam Chocolate Festival.
In subsequent years, demand for sustainable Certified products starts to increase. A few years later, in 2015, Cargill launches its UTZ Certified Genuine chocolate brand in Brazil, before becoming the first company to offer a cocoa powder product with an UTZ Certified claim for the Brazilian food service sector.


Cargill distributes the first sustainability cash premiums to two farmer organizations in Côte d'Ivoire, which receive more than US$400,000. More than half of the overall amount is distributed directly to 1,600 farmers, based on their individual deliveries of cocoa beans. The remainder is retained by the farmer organizations to strengthen their operations, help professionalize their organizations, and provide additional community development support to all their farmer members.


Just a couple of years after its European debut in the Netherlands, Cargill sources and processes its first UTZ Certified sustainable cocoa in North America. Cargill sells 530,000 lbs. (240MT) of Wilbur® cocoa liquor. Wilbur® is Cargill’s high-performing, quality American-style chocolate and compound brand, which builds on the brand’s original recipes since 1884.


Cargill institutes the Cargill Cocoa Promise, an action-oriented framework for its global cocoa sustainability activities. Its framework builds on years of experience in the field working closely with farmers, farmer organizations, and their surrounding communities. The Cargill Cocoa Promise is Cargill’s commitment to improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities, while securing a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.
The approach is first launched in West Africa in 2012. The following year it is expanded to Brazil with the first cocoa farmers become UTZ Certified. And in 2014, the approach is expanded to Indonesia, as part of Cargill’s US$100 million investment in the cocoa supply chain in the country.


The Cargill Coop Academy is the first of its kind in the cocoa sector business skills program for farmer organization leaders. Coop Academy is introduced in Côte d'Ivoire and is designed to provide those leaders with the capacity building, management and governance skillset that will allow them to establish more professional, efficient and economically viable entities. Coop Academy was developed in partnership with TechnoServe and INPHB, and is supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and Emerging Leaders. In 2016, Cargill institutes the Coop Academy in Cameroon.


Being a founding member of the World Cocoa Foundation back in 2000, Cargill now commits to the World Cocoa Foundation’s CocoaAction strategy in Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. CocoaAction brings the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies together to sustain the cocoa industry and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers. To this end, it develops meaningful partnerships between governments, cocoa farmers, and the cocoa industry to boost productivity and strengthen community development in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – the largest cocoa producing countries in the world.


Cargill announces a first of its kind private-public partnership with the Conseil du Café-Cacao and 14 cocoa farmer organizations in Côte d'Ivoire. An investment of US$2.4 million is used to improve the availability of healthcare and increase the number of children with access to good quality educational facilities across 15 local communities.

Read more This proprietary private-public partnership enables cocoa farmer organizations to initiate larger scale projects that benefit their local communities. Each farmer organization gets access to funding in addition to their own investment. The funding is received as a direct result of premium payments to Certified cocoa under the Cargill Cocoa Promise.
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Cargill sets up its first GPS polygon farm mapping, beginning in Côte d’Ivoire. The aim is to map the entire direct sourcing network to farm-level. This project provides detailed information about the location, size, and footprint of the farms, the type and age of trees grown, and much more. Such data offers invaluable insights into the specific challenges that each individual farm faces. This can then be used to help support farmer productivity through one-to-one coaching and tailored Farm Development Plans. Supply chain mapping is considered fundamental by Cargill to evaluate and verify its partner farmers against protected area boundaries, historical forest loss, and future deforestation risk. As a result, when coupled with digital traceability capabilities, it enables Cargill to achieve a fully traceable supply chain. Furthermore, in Brazil, Cargill develops a platform on ArcGIS to store and analyze all cocoa farms mapped, considering the Brazilian Forest Code. This allows Cargill to monitor and analyze any deforestation that has happened since 2009.


Cargill establishes its own licensed buying company (LBC) following the successful application for a license from the Ghanaian Cocoa Board (Cocobod). Furthermore, Cargill creates a fully traceable supply chain down to partner farmer level in its direct sourcing network, thanks to a number of technological innovations. These solutions allow farmers to deliver their cocoa bean bags to community warehouses, where they are digitally weighed and assigned a unique, fully traceable bar code. In this way, Cargill is able to trace each individual bag of Ghanaian cocoa beans to the originating farm. Moreover, Cargill introduces payments with e-Money – through partnerships with E-Zwich, MTN mobile Money, Tigo Mobil Money – straight to the farmers phone or e-Wallet.
Thanks to this mobile banking application, farmers receive their payments immediately and carry less cash, which enables their payments to be safer, and more secure. Apart from their benefits for cocoa farmers, mobile payments enhance the financial transparency in Cargill’s supply chain.


Cargill partners with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) to expand their joint actions on child protection in Côte d’Ivoire. The Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), the innovative model chosen for child labor identification, prevention and targeted response, allows Cargill to go a step further in its efforts to address child labor, and is based on best practices developed by ICI. Following Côte d’Ivoire, Cargill unfolds CLMRS in other cocoa origin countries and makes a public commitment to setup CLMRS across its entire direct sourcing network by 2025.


Cargill begins piloting farmer coaching in Côte d’Ivoire in 2016, replacing its Farmer Field Schools. Through one-to-one coaching, Cargill gets detailed insights at the individual farmer, farmer organization and regional level. This helps to direct supply of inputs and subject-related training to where it is needed most.

Read more Together with partners, ANADER and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Cargill has trained more than 1,250 farmers to become coaches themselves. Each one of them is assigned to coach around 60 further farmers per year. First, coaches visit the farmer and undertake a detailed farm assessment, which they use to create a bespoke Farm Development Plan. The farmer is revisited several times annually to check progress in delivering their plan and monitoring the outcomes they are achieving.
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Cargill inaugurates “Doni Doni” (which means “step by step” in the Dioula language). This innovative, award-winning initiative, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation and Société Ivoirienne de Banque (SIB), provides a credit facility that allows farmer organizations in Côte d’Ivoire to lease cocoa collection trucks. Through the scheme, farmer organizations that have taken part in Cargill’s Coop Academy can get new trucks through a three-year leasing deal, which includes insurance. Doni Doni is recognized by Food Ingredients Europe (FiE) with a prestigious FiE Innovation Award for “best sustainability innovation”.


Cargill launches Veliche™ Gourmet, its artisan chocolate brand for the Gourmet market in 2016. A year later, Veliche™ Gourmet’s whole range of cocoa based products becomes 100% sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, contributing to nature conservation and better social conditions in agriculture and forestry. Targeting chefs in bakery, pastry and confectionery, Veliche™ Gourmet is a high quality Belgian chocolate brand that offers complex sensorial profiles and outstanding workability.


In 2017, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate went through a deep reassessment of the most burning issues in the cocoa sector and its ability to make a positive difference on cocoa sustainability. This resulted in the introduction of its five sustainability goals - Farmer Livelihoods, Community Wellbeing, Protect our Planet, Consumer Confidence, and Transformation, Together - looking towards 2030 and aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This framework allows Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate to broaden its scope to encompass its indirect cocoa supply chain and how it sources other ingredients used to produce chocolate. Cargill is working towards the goals with urgency and has defined several intermediate targets.


Cargill brings 19,000 additional Indonesian farmers into the Cargill Cocoa Promise via the UTZ certification program, with support from the multi-donor funded Sustainable Cocoa Production Program. To fulfil the traceability requirements, Cargill deploys a digital system called CocoaTrace, developed by PT Koltiva. The platform stores individual farmer demographic and field-level data, including GPS points and polygon maps, farmer training records, as well as adoption rates of good agriculture practices. Cocoa volumes sold by each farmer are entered into their individual record and are then digitally tracked through the supply chain. Upon acceptance at Cargill, a sustainability premium for each farmer is calculated for payment.


Cargill initiates the setup of a Cooperative Management System (CMS) in Côte d’Ivoire. This innovative solution centralizes inventory information, payment flows and financial operations and allows farmer organizations to physically track the cocoa beans they manage back to individual farms via barcodes. In this way, they can make data-driven business decisions, and prevent beans from deforested areas from entering the supply chain. The CMS is powered by Farmforce and made possible with support of the Farm & Coop Investment Program (FCIP) of IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative. Additionally, the CMS enables farmers organizations to manage loans, collect beans and check fixed versus variable costs.


Cargill joins the World Cocoa Foundation's initiative CocoaAction Brasil. Leading members of Brazil’s chocolate and cocoa sector launch the precompetitive initiative to address sustainability issues in the country’s cocoa chain. CocoaAction Brasil works in collaboration with public and private stakeholders of the chain to promote dialogue and collective construction of solutions. The focus, among others, is on increasing productivity; improving the quality of cocoa, controlling pests and diseases; improving farmers’ living and working conditions; strengthening farmers’ organizations; promoting agroforestry systems with cocoa, and unlocking rural credit.


Under the guidance of IDH and through the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), Cargill becomes one of the first signatories of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI). This global collaboration aims to end deforestation related to cocoa production and restore forest areas, through no further conversion of any forest land for cocoa production in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. Under CFI, companies and governments begin to implement key actions on the ground to halt deforestation in the most ecologically important and environmentally sensitive areas.


Cargill and PUR Projet start working together in the development of a large-scale community-based agroforestry and reforestation program in Côte d’Ivoire. Their partnership aims to engage with a number of cocoa-producing communities across Côte d’Ivoire to plant trees on cocoa parcels, restore highly degraded ecosystems, and improve livelihoods. In 2020, the program expands to include alternative livelihoods activities and start to engage agroforestry in Ghana.


Cargill launches the Promise Solutions: a diverse portfolio of sustainable products and services to meet its customers’ evolving needs for greater supply chain transparency and brand value creation. The Promise Solutions are built on the strong foundations of the Cargill Cocoa Promise and capitalize on the innovative digital solutions Cargill has been introducing to strengthen its direct sourcing networks. They are designed to help customer start or further grow their involvement in cocoa sustainability , based on their specific interests and aspirations. The Promise Solutions are introduced first in North America in 2019, followed by EMEA (Europe, Africa and Middle East) in 2020. Expansion is planned for Latin America and Asia-Pacific.


Cargill and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) expand their partnership to initiate Coop Academy 2.0 in Côte d’Ivoire, adding training and support fully dedicated to women’s groups, with the aim of coaching 250 women leaders. The initiative also included tools and resources to help 3,000 women setup income-generating activities, raise the earning potential of their families, and build the economic viability of their community.

Read more The renewed partnership adds 40 additional farmer organizations to the Coop Academy project, bringing the total to 120 organizations reached through training and tools to improve their cocoa business, enhance sustainability, and increase profitability. The partnership also introduces additional modules focused on integration digital tools in supply chains to improve traceability into the cocoa supply chain.
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Cargill publishes the interactive Cargill Cocoa Promise Sourcing Partner Network map. This discloses the name and location of the 128 cooperative offices in Côte d’Ivoire, the 7 buying stations in Ghana, and the 11 buying stations in Cameroon belonging to its direct sourcing network in these countries. Each of these entities and their farmer members benefit from relevant Cargill Cocoa Promise activities. Cargill will keep updating the map with information about its direct supply chain in other origin countries, as part of its ongoing drive for increased transparency.


Cargill becomes the first cocoa supplier to establish child labor and remediation systems (CLMRS) in Cameroon. The pilot program of the CLMRS, developed together with Cargill’s longstanding partner International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and supported by a Dutch governmental grant through RVO, reaches 4,000 farmers in 2019.
During the same year, Cargill implements a new CLMRS program in the South Sulawesi communities of Bone and Wajo, in Indonesia, together with partner Save the Children, aiming to reach up to 20,000 Indonesian farmers within three years. Shaped by the Community Based Child Protection Committees model, this program will be a robust monitoring and remediation approach designed to protect children and to promote their rights.


Rainforest Alliance merged with UTS in 2018 and in 2020 they begun to operate under a unified Rainforest Alliance certification standard and the Rainforest Alliance name. As a founding member of the UTZ cocoa certification standard in 2007, a long-standing and one of the eleven members of the Rainforest Alliance standard committee, Cargill has been in close consultation with Rainforest Alliance regarding the development of the new 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard.


Cargill launches the CocoaWise™ Portal to provide customers fast and easy access to the most relevant sustainability metrics and insights, that are unique to their individual sustainability journey. The portal shares human stories that help customers deepen their connection with the communities from which the cocoa originates, and builds inspiring brand narratives. The CocoaWise™ Portal pulls information from a centralized data platform: CocoaWise™ 360. This platform is fed from a suite of digital tools and systems designed to increase transparency and traceability, while enhancing cocoa farming practices and community well-being.


Cargill launches Made With a Promise™, a cocoa sustainability solution designed for North America’s distribution channel, that ultimately reaches thousands of small chocolatier, and bakers. With the launch of the program, all of Cargill’s North America chocolate brands sold through distributors are being made with sustainable cocoa from Cargill’s directly-sourced cocoa network. Further, a portion of the proceeds from the sales support a community project in Côte d’Ivoire. The program enables this customer segment to buy via distributors. In this way, they can contribute to a sustainable cocoa sector with a low hassle solution that is specifically designed to their unique needs.


Starting with the 2020/2021 crop year, Cargill expands the Cooperative Management System (CMS) to Cameroon, introducing to cocoa farmers and farmer organizations in the country the traceability, financing, and data-collecting capabilities it has developed in Ghana & Côte d’Ivoire. The implementation of CMS in Cameroon was made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


As part of the Cargill Cocoa Promise, Cargill, in partnership with the non-profit organization Imaflora, implements two projects to support cocoa producers in Pará, Brazil. These projects are designed to increase their productivity through environmental conservation actions and good agricultural practices. The Floresta Produtiva project involves 150 producers supporting the implementation of Agroforestry Systems (SAFs) and the environmental sustainability of the properties under the Brazilian Forest Code. The Farmer Coaching project includes training more than 50 producers to become ambassadors of good practices in sustainable cocoa production, throughout the region. Find out more about the projects here.


As part of the sustainability journey to deliver full transparency, Cargill assesses the total corporate emissions related to its cocoa supply chain (Scopes 1, 2 and 3) and calculates the carbon emissions of eight cocoa and chocolate products. The methods are externally verified by Quantis. All calculations are based on recognized benchmarks like the greenhouse gas protocol and a state-of-the-art deforestation assessment methodology. All these metrics and insights are available to customers through the CocoaWise™ Portal.


Cargill celebrates 10 years of the Cargill Cocoa Promise, which was launched in 2012 to formalize and solidify our sustainability efforts in our direct supply chain. With one decade of progress, we are committed to helping cocoa farmers and their communities achieve better incomes and living standards while also growing cocoa sustainably.