ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — Barry Callebaut is launching a $43 million cocoa sustainability initiative to boost farm productivity, increase quality and improve living conditions in cocoa-producing countries in West and Central Africa and Indonesia.
“The scarcity of quality cocoa is a serious concern that touches the heart of our business because without more cocoa, we can’t produce more chocolate,” said Juergen B. Steinemann, chief executive officer. “Innovative and comprehensive solutions are urgently needed to reverse the overall decline in global cocoa production. We’ve therefore made sustainable cocoa a pillar of our company’s ambitious growth strategy and accelerated our longtime efforts to ensure sustainable cocoa production. Our newest initiative, ‘Cocoa Horizons,’ is the most ambitious and far reaching sustainability program in Barry Callebaut’s history.”
As a part of the initiative, the company will invest $5.4 million in the current fiscal year for farmer training, infrastructure and community education and health programs. These efforts will be done in cooperation with agricultural and development experts and government institutions. The program will begin focusing on Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Cameroon and Brazil, and the program builds on the company’s established Quality Partner Program for cocoa farmer cooperatives.
The initiative has three primarily focuses: farmer practices, farmer education and farmer health. This will include the opening of the Center for Cocoa Excellence and five farmer academies in cocoa-growing regions in Cote d’Ivoire. The company said boosting such aspects of the lives of cocoa growers is important as annual cocoa supply frequently has fallen short of demand and it is estimated by 2020 the global cocoa and chocolate industry will need an additional 1 million tonnes of cocoa to meet the rising demand, driven by markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and America.
“Cocoa Horizons is our long-term initiative to improve farmer productivity and livelihoods in a sustainable way,” said Steven Retzlaff, president of global sourcing of Cocoa. “We define cocoa production as ‘sustainable’ when farmers earn equitable income, engage in responsible labor practices, safeguard the environment through sound agricultural practices and can provide for the basic health and education needs and general well-being of their families.”