Sunday, December 16, 2018

Strategic partnership between Tony’s Chocolonely, Albert Heijn and Barry Callebaut sets new industry standard for sourcing cocoa

Dutch impact organization Tony’s Chocolonely, retailer Albert Heijn and chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut have forged a strategic partnership to end child labor and modern slavery in the chocolate industry. Together the companies are setting a new industry standard that increases pressure on the wider chocolate industry to drive structural change to work towards a more equally divided cocoa chain. 

With a mission to make 100% slave-free the norm in chocolate, for years Tony’s Chocolonely has been calling on companies to follow their example for cocoa sourcing based on direct relations with cocoa cooperatives, traceable cocoa and a living income for cocoa farmers. The company shares full details of its transparent supply chain under Tony’s Open Chain – an open-source platform where chocolate companies can access all the expertise needed to eliminate social issues from their own supply chain. The platform includes tools such as Tony’s Beantracker and the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System that has been implemented at all Tony’s partner cooperatives. 

Dutch biggest retailer Albert Heijn is the first company to sign up for Tony’s Open Chain, while world-leading chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has enabled the partnership with its expertise in processing the segregated cocoa to chocolate. "This is a giant step for the chocolate industry, and an important move towards making sustainable chocolate the industry standard by 2025,” says Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Barry Callebaut. “It’s an amazing opportunity to collaborate with both the biggest retailer in the Netherlands and a company as committed to its slave-free mission as Tony's Chocolonely, and we look forward to expanding this success story through our logistical expertise.” 

The partnership between Tony’s Chocolonely, Albert Heijn and Barry Callebaut shows it is possible to make a difference on a large scale, and calls on other companies in the industry to join. “Together we make more impact. I’m thrilled that Albert Heijn and Barry Callebaut are joining us on our roadmap towards slave-free chocolate,” says Henk Jan Beltman, Chief Chocolate Officer with Tony’s Chocolonely. “We have always aimed to be exemplary and inspire others to act. Today our impact is bigger than our chocolate alone. We’re certain that this is just the first step on the journey to change the industry - together make chocolate 100% slave-free.” 

From March 2019 Delicata will hit Albert Heijn shelves with chocolate made exclusively from fully traceable cocoa, bought at a higher price from Tony’s Chocolonely partner cooperatives in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Tony’s Chocolonely’s five sourcing principles enable cocoa farmers to earn a livable income and remove anonymity from the supply chain, knowing exactly who grows the beans and under which circumstances. According to Tony's Chocolonely, extreme poverty is the main cause of lasting social issues in the cocoa industry, issues which will only be resolved when companies go beyond certifications and are willing to pay a higher price than the certification premium. The three parties unveiled the news of their partnership today at the Tony’s FAIR, Tony’s Chocolonely’s annual meeting in Amsterdam. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Fairtrade raises its cocoa farmer's minimum price by 20%

Fairtrade International has announced the raising of its guaranteed minimum price for cocoa producers. It goes from $ 2,000 to $ 2,400 per metric ton at the point of export (FOB). The additional Fairtrade Premium is also raised by 20%. It will be $ 240 per metric ton instead of $ 200. Fairtrade organic cocoa will cost $ 300 more than the market price or the minimum fair trade price.

These increases follow the failure identified by the organisation itself: 77% of Fairtrade certified cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire are below the poverty line.* 

The new Fairtrade Minimum Price at FOB level would equate to approximately $1,600 per metric tonne at farm gate level in Côte d’Ivoire and is still below the Fairtrade Living Income Reference Prices of $2,668 per metric tonne of cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire and $2,300 in GhanaThose LIRF prices are based on what the ISEAL Living Income Community of Practice has calculated to be needed in each country to support the average cocoa farming household’s basic costs for food, housing, clothing, health care, education plus a small provision for emergencies.

As mentioned by Fairtrade International : "The Living Income Reference Price should enable full-time cocoa farmers to earn a living income if implemented as part of a holistic strategy that also includes increased productivity and diversified crops". 


* To find out more about the reasons for this setback and some ways to improve ethics in the sector, read the TDC article: "Fair trade struggles to lift cocoa farmers out of poverty in Ivory Coast"

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Belgium joins countries calling on the European Commission to act on deforestation

On December 5, Belgium presented an Initiative calling on the European Commission to “develop an ambitious action plan against deforestation and forest degradation before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission (mid 2019)”.

It is the seventh European Union (EU) Member State to do so, following a letter sent by Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy in November 2018. It is the first time that Belgium has made such a specific call.

“Belgium’s stance means that there’s now overwhelming momentum for the Commission to act.  Member States, companies and civil society expect ambitious action on deforestation caused by Europeans’ consumption—and increasingly, they agree this must include regulation.”  Said Julia Christian, forests campaigner at Fern.

This recommendation is part of a sustainability initiative on chocolate, set up by the Belgium government, chocolate companies and civil society, which aims to provide a fair income to cocoa producers and stop deforestation driven by cocoa production by 2030.

The initiative also calls on the European Commission to propose a due diligence regulation for the cocoa sector, describing it as “particularly ripe for legislation addressing the root causes of and interlinkages between human rights violations and deforestation”.

This follows calls made at the World Cocoa Conference earlier this year, where chocolate companies agreed in a common declaration that there was a need to “strengthen human rights due diligence, including through potential regulatory measures by governments.

“At the EU level, Belgium has real leverage to halt deforestation and human rights abuses in the cocoa sector. Today’s call for action is an important step in the right direction”, said Beatrice Wedeux, Forest Policy Officer at WWF Belgium.

Belgium is the second biggest exporter of chocolate in the world (after Germany), and produces 600.000 tonnes of chocolate annually. However, in recent years Belgium has not been very involved in discussions on sustainability in the cocoa sector.

“Belgium has one of the world’s most iconic chocolate traditions, but it has been slower to take action on the human rights and environmental abuses contained in our famous truffles.  We are delighted to see Belgium now taking the lead, and urge other countries to follow suit,” said Bart van Besien, Policy Officer at Oxfam-Wereldwinkels.

“Deforestation in the cocoa sector is directly linked with the extreme poverty in which cocoa farmers live. At the same time as stopping deforestation, we need to ensure that cocoa farmers make a living income,” said van Besien.

Background

Full text of the initiative can be found here: French versionDutch version.

Recent studies have shown that cocoa is the number one cause of deforestation in West-Africa.
Moreover, the majority of cocoa farmers live in extreme poverty, earning far less then what they need for a decent living. Recent studies have shown that cocoa farmers earn on average about a third of what they need to achieve a living income.

Belgium is one of the largest importers of cocoa beans. Every year more than 300,000 tonnes of cocoa beans enter via the port of Antwerp. Belgium is the third largest importer of cocoa beans in Europe after the Netherlands and Germany. The port of Antwerp is not only important for the Belgian chocolate sector but is also an important port for cocoa beans for industry in Germany, the Netherlands, France and other EU countries.

The Belgian chocolate sector accounts for an annual turnover of almost five billion euros. There are approximately five hundred companies active in the cocoa processing industry and chocolate sector, ranging from large multinationals to Small and Medium Enterprises and artisanal chocolatiers. Every year almost 600,000 tons are exported by Belgian chocolate makers to EU countries as well as the USA and Japan. This makes Belgium the second largest chocolate exporter in the world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sustainable timber: Countries meet to swap experiences on EU trade compliance

From: FAO

"Experts working to eliminate illegal logging in the Republic of the Congo and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic gathered in Ghana to learn from that country’s own experiences in promoting trade of legally-produced timber to the European Union."

Read further

Friday, November 9, 2018

The State of Sustainable Markets 2018: Statistics and Emerging Trends

Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) are experiencing significant growth across the world in response to consumer, buyer and producer demands, according to ‘The State of Sustainable Markets 2018: Statistics and Emerging Trends’ report.

The report outlines data on global production volumes and areas, as well as certified producers, for 14 major VSS. These standards, which provide consumers assurances that their purchases support sustainability, can enhance market connections and price premiums for producers, but potentially come with substantial compliance costs.

The State of Sustainable Markets 2018: Statistics and Emerging Trends is the third joint report by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the International Trade Centre (ITC). The report is the most comprehensive global data source available for certified agricultural commodity markets. It presents data that helps small firms take advantage of trends to supply consumers with products that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.
The report shows that agricultural land on which certified commodities are grown continues to increase. For some products, such as coffee and cocoa, more than 20% of global cultivation is certified as sustainable.  Certified cotton is witnessing the highest growth rate, with the area under cultivation trebling between 2011 and 2016. Certified cocoa also almost trebled in area; while oil palm and tea-certified areas more than doubled during the same five-year span.

The report finds that in 2016, more than 57.8 million hectares of agricultural land across the world were organic-certified, including land that is in the process of becoming certified as such. This represents 1.2% of all agricultural land worldwide.

In terms of individual standards rather than crops, the State of Sustainable Markets finds that the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) experienced the greatest jump, with the certified area covered expanding more than seven-fold. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) area increased nearly five times, while that of Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) nearly quadrupled.


State of Sustainable Markets 2018 highlights

Cocoa: the largest growth in terms of certified area
Between 2015 and 2016, certified cocoa demonstrated the strongest growth with a 28% increase. However, over the same period, most other commodities experienced single-digit growth or even saw a decline in certified area.

Coffee: 26% of the world’s coffee is certified
In 2016, over a quarter of global coffee was certified by at least one of the following standards: 4C, Fairtrade International, Organic, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ.
This is a conservative estimate, as the figure could be as high as 45%, if the coffee is not certified by multiple initiatives.

Single-sector standards continue to dominate
Market uptake is largely driven by standards directly targeting mainstream adoption within a specific sector. In each of the sectors discussed, where single-commodity standards have been developed (coffee, cotton, forestry, oil palm, sugarcane and soy), they are by far the largest standards. The dominance of single-commodity standards is particularly remarkable given that they tend to be the newest standards on the market, with the exception of the forestry sector. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Fair Trade USA launches record number of private label products

From: international Comunicaffe

"Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, has collaborated with dozens of retailers across the industry (e-commerce, brick and mortar, and foodservice) to launch 176 Fair Trade Certified™ private label items to date in 2018."

Read further the article by international Comunicaffe

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Fair trade pioneer Traidcraft saved from closure, though 50 jobs will be lost

From chroniclelive.co.uk

"Gateshead firm says it will go back to its roots with plan that slims down its staff to just 12 people"

Monday, November 5, 2018

ISO / CEN "sustainable cocoa" standard postponed to 2019

Planned for the end of 2018, the ISO / CEN standard on sustainable cocoa is postponed due to a disagreement over the terms and costs of control.

Even though some chocolate companies have embraced three certification systems (UTZ Certified, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade) it is clear the industry does not want to invest all its money in this. 
At their request, CEN (European Committee for  Standardisation), the cupola of national standardisation organisations of 33 European countries, launched a process in 2011 to come to a ‘general standard for  sustainable cocoa’.
This is quite ambitious, especially if you consider that CEN has left its familiar terrain of quality and safety standards for a difficult concept such as sustainability. Soon ISO, the International Organisation for Standardization, with 163 member countries, was also involved in the process. Many cocoa producing countries also joined the debate and through national mirror committees, other parties (such as companies and NGOs) joined.
The ISO/CEN is to become a global standard which clearly defines what sustainable cocoa is and which everyone in the field can apply. It consists of three sub-standards:
  • A Management System Standard for the structure and management of the value chain.
  • A series of criteria in three domains: People (living and working conditions complying with the standards of the International Labour Organisation), Planet (the impact on the environment) and Profit (the revenue of farmers and their productivity).
  • Procedures to guarantee the origin of cocoa, probably via various systems: from fully traceable to formulas that allow for the combination with non-certified cocoa.
The targeted system is Low Threshold/High Bar, which implies different levels of application (basic, medium, high). Recognition at one level implies an action plan for the next step.

Unlike existing certification systems there is no CEN or ISO label on the final consumer product. It is up to the companies to check their claim of sustainable production.

The launch is now planned for 2019.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Aldi facing mounting pressure from LatAm banana supply countries over price cut plans

Source: freshfruitportal.com

"Germany-headquartered discount retail chain Aldi is facing widespread condemnation from Latin American banana-producing countries over its plans to lower pricing by around a dollar in 2019."

Read further the article on Freshfruitportal.com

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Sustainability certification initiatives need to be more effective

New SOMO research shows that working conditions on many certified farms and plantations are still problematic. Workers face an array of challenges including poor pay, unsafe and unhealthy situations, and they are prevented from standing up for their rights. 

Changes and improvements are urgently needed for ambitious sustainability certification initiatives to become a significant instrument in improving working conditions for farm workers across the developing world.