Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Global organic area reaches another all-time high

Nearly 70 million hectares of farmland are organic

The year 2017 was another record year for global organic agriculture. According to the latest FiBL survey on organic agriculture worldwide, the organic farmland increased substantially, and the number of organic producers and organic retail sales also continued to grow, reaching another all-time high, as shown by the data from 181 countries (data as of the end 2017). 

The 20th edition of the study “The World of Organic Agriculture” published by FiBL and IFOAM – Organics International shows a continuation of the positive trend seen in the past years. 

The global organic market continues to grow worldwide and has reached 97 billion US dollars 
The market research company Ecovia Intelligence estimates that the global market for organic food reached 97 billion US dollars in 2017 (approx. 90 billion euros). 

The United States is the leading market with 40 billion euros, followed by Germany (10 billion euros), France (7.9 billion euros), and China (7.6 billion euros). In 2017, many major markets continued to show double-digit growth rates, and the French organic market grew by 18 percent. The Swiss spent the most on organic food (288 Euros per capita in 2017). Denmark had the highest organic market share (13.3 percent of the total food market). 

Almost three million producers worldwide 
In 2017, 2.9 million organic producers were reported, which is 5 percent more than in 2016. India continues to be the country with the highest number of producers (835’200), followed by Uganda (210’352), and Mexico (210’000). 

Record growth of the organic farmland: 20 percent increase 
A total of 69.8 million hectares were organically managed at the end of 2017, representing a growth of 20 percent or 11.7 million hectares over 2016, the largest growth ever recorded. Australia has the largest organic agricultural area (35.6 million hectares), followed by Argentina (3.4 million hectares), and China (3 million hectares). Due to the large area increase in Australia, half of the global organic agricultural land is now in Oceania (35.9 million hectares). Europe has the second largest area (21 percent; 14.6 million hectares), followed by Latin America (11.5 percent; 8 million hectares). The organic area increased in all continents. 

Ten percent or more of the farmland is organic in fourteen countries 
Globally, 1.4 percent of the farmland is organic. However, many countries have far higher shares. The countries with the largest organic share of their total farmland are Liechtenstein (37.9 percent), Samoa (37.6 percent), and Austria (24 percent). In fourteen countries, 10 percent or more of all agricultural land is organic.

“The World of Organic Agriculture” as well as graphs and infographics can be downloaded at

Saturday, February 2, 2019

More and more Belgian chocolatiers going from bean to bar

The production process that turns the cocoa bean into a chocolate bar requires many intermediary steps and involves multinational corporations. 

More and more chocolatiers all over the world now want to take the whole process in their own hands. Their raw material of choice is not liquid factory-supplied ‘couverture chocolate’ delivered in large cisterns, but cocoa beans which they personally select in the South. This growing group of artisanal chocolatiers – known as the bean-to-bar movement – resolutely targets quality rather than mass production and looks for top-range beans with exquisite flavours. 

Their work mostly results in a good relationship with cocoa growers and fair pay for the growers’ tough labour.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Germany’s call for cocoa regulation tightens pressure on the European Commission

Source: FERN

The German government has called for European “binding regulations” to set a standard for sustainably-produced cocoa.  The call was made as part of a national 10-point Action Plan for cocoa, launched on 23 January by German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner and Development Minister Gerd Mueller. The 10-point Action Plan sets out how the German government plans to address rampant deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector.  The Action Plan also proposes to train farmers in sustainable cocoa production and strengthen the role of women in the cocoa sector.

The call echoes similar statements from the French and Belgian governments at the end of 2018, where both called for the “rapid adoption” of an EU due diligence regulation to tackle child labour and deforestation in the cocoa sector. Chocolate companies have expressed similar views, concluding at the April 2018 World Cocoa Conference in Berlin that their voluntary commitments to end child labour and deforestation had “not led to sufficient impact”, and that there was a need to look at “potential regulatory measures by governments.”  
At a European Commission event in Brussels on 24 January 2019, Mondelez (the world’s second-largest chocolate company) expressed their “strong support” for “harmonized EU legislation to create a level playing field” in the cocoa sector.

Germany’s 10-point Action Plan comes just as the European Commission launches its open consultation (to close 25 February 2019) on “Stepping up EU Action on deforestation and forest degradation”, which sets out how the EU will address deforestation resulting from its consumption of cocoa, amongst other things. The EU is by quite a long way the world’s largest importer of cocoa, responsible for over 60% of global cocoa bean imports. 

Julia Christian, forests campaigner at the NGO Fern, said: “Europeans consume the majority of the world’s cocoa, so we are very much responsible for the nearly 2 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa, as well as the near-total destruction of forests in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana." 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Ethical smartphone company Fairphone raises €20 million


"Dutch ethical smartphone manufacturer Fairphone has raised a total of €20 million in funding and debt over the past few months. (...) Founded in 2013 in Amsterdam, Fairphone is a social enterprise that’s paving the road for “ethical electronics.” The company is working on putting the ethics first across the supply chain, from mining to manufacturing to the device’s life cycle."

Read further the article on

Read the blog post by the new appointed CEO Eva Gouwens

'Envoyé spécial" documentary on cocoa: Children trapped

A documentary on child labour in Côte d’Ivoire deserves being watched (in French). It was first broadcast on 10 January 2019 for the French television’s ‘Envoyé spécial’ programme.
Côte d’Ivoire, globally the biggest producer of cocoa “has really endeavoured to stop a scourge which is a perceived disgrace to the country. Schools have been built; cocoa-growers have been trained. On TV people are frequently reminded that child labour is prohibited. Unfortunately, children are still exploited’.

In the very west of the country, at eight hours of the country’s capital, near the border with Liberia, in remote forests Paul Moreira, a journalist, came across children, some of which had been working for five years... for free on illegal plantations, before they were given a small plot of land to earn just… 200 euros per year. 

The children came from Burkina Faso to the Guiglo area. They were sold by their parents for approximately 200 000 FCFA (300 euros) to work in cocoa plantations. Approximately, because, as one dealer unveils in the documentary: “Like sheep on the market, they may be more or less expensive.”

Children, some of which are still very young, head for the plantations with chemicals sprayers on their backs. They wear no protective gear — which they would not be able to pay for — while they spray loads of glyphosate to kill the weeds on the plots before the remaining trees are burned down and cacao trees are planted.  

In just one week in Côte d’Ivoire’s south-western forests, Paul Moreira “discovered all crimes which the industry undertook to stop: slavery, child labour and the destruction of nature”. Meanwhile, bags of cocoa enter the mainstream cocoa trade circuit. These bags cannot be traced because they are not labelled and in this particular case are delivered to Cargill, which resells the cocoa to big chocolate brands.

Elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire children skip school too. Cocoa growers often lack the means to send their children to school. According to a study by the French development agency (AfD) and Barry Callebaut[1] cocoa growers earn an average 0.86 euro per day. The documentary points out that cocoa growers earned three times that much in the 1980s and raises the question: “Why not a simple cocoa price hike to stop children from working in the fields?“ 

The investigation documentary by Paul Moreira and Pedro Brito Da Fonseca is available (in French) on:

Meanwhile, most producers earn a pittance whereas big corporations continue to make huge profits. Two examples among others: Cargill reported 9 % net earnings increase year-over-year in 2018. According to the annual report of the company "the increasing earnings in food ingredients and applications in particular was lifted by outstanding performance in cocoa and chocolate"[2]. Barry Callebaut announced a 31 % rise in net profit for the same period[3]

[1] Gaëlle Balineau (AFD), Safia Bernath (Barry Callebaut), Vaihei Pahuatini, Cocoa farmers’ agricultural practices and livelihoods in Côte d’Ivoire, Insights from cocoa farmers and community baseline surveys conducted by Barry Callebaut between 2013 and 2015, Technical notes, AfD.

Monday, December 24, 2018

TDC supports cocoa producers in Vietnam

TDC worked together with NAPP (Network of Asia and Pacific Producers) and VCA (Vietnam Cooperatives Alliance) to support cocoa producers in the Vietnamese highlands. The project ‘sustainable development of cocoa production starting from cooperative model’ trained 450 farmer families in fair trade practices. The project aimed to create one new cooperative and reinforce two existing ones. Today the farmers produce 500 tons of fair trade certified cocoa beans of a better quality that they can sell at a better price.

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. 

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. 

“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.” says Henk Jan Beltman, Chief Chocolate Officer with Tony’s Chocolonely.

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.

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.

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

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."

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