According to the report, 44% of the cocoa used, as well as 44% of the other ingredients that Barry Callebaut uses in its products are now sustainably sourced.
“These ‘other ingredients’ can include sugar, dairy products, vanilla, or others, all of which must be taken into consideration and sourced sustainably as well if we want to make sustainable chocolate the norm,” Pablo Perversi, Barry Callebaut Chief Innovation, Sustainability & Quality Officer told us.
“Our whole aim is to try and transform the whole value chain.
“The [identical] numbers are actually a bit of a coincidence, we didn’t plan it that way. But that’s the way it came out, and we’re pretty proud of it because it means that almost half of all our ingredients are coming from sustainable sources.”
Palm oil is also used to make the company’s products in a ‘very small percentage’, which is one of the world’s most-watched ingredients when it comes to sustainable sourcing.
“To this end, we are not only a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), but also the Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG), and as such are trying to apply even stricter criteria in working with our suppliers […] in an effort to comply with the highest and strictest standards in the industry,” said Perversi.
According to Barry Callebaut Head of External Affairs Christiaan Prins, the POIG holds to even more ambitious sustainability criteria, as this group was founded on the basis of having a forward-thinking group that could move faster than the RSPO while still building on its work.
“We provided input via the POIG to the RSPO Principles and Criteria 2018, and are extremely pleased with how it has turned out,” added Prins.
Cocoa sustainability in Asia
In terms of sustainability efforts in the Asian region, Barry Callebaut Asia Pacific President Ben De Schryver told FoodNavigator-Asia that: “In 2019, we plan to bring Cocoa Horizons to Asia, [particularly Indonesia].”
“Cocoa Horizons is an effective sustainability programme with the vision to drive cocoa farmer prosperity by creating self-sustaining farming communities.”
“Indonesian cocoa farmers participating in Cocoa Horizons will have access to coaching, access to a Farmer Business Plan, are supported to access financial services and farm services, and are supported on income diversification activities and women empowerment.”
Indonesia is a key development region for Barry Callebaut, and the company has invested a good deal of effort into ensuring that cocoa production in the region remains stable.
“Indonesia has been struggling to increase cocoa production because of ageing cocoa trees. Most of them were planted in the 1980s, are vulnerable to diseases and are well past their peak production years,” De Schryver explained.
“Indonesia desperately needs new trees in order to get back to a productivity level of around 1,000 kg of beans per hectare.”
He added that although most Indonesian farmers are willing to invest in their farms, and understand that new trees will generally be more productive, there is a lack of access to good planting materials thus they prefer not to take the risk of planting new trees.
“One of [our] successful initiatives in Indonesia is to [the promotion and development of] high-quality nurseries [to] provide the supply of seedlings the farmers need, giving them confidence that the seedlings they purchase will turn into high-yielding, disease resistant trees,” he said.
Cocoa nurseries provide a conducive environment where young cocoa plants can grow a good number of leaves and fully develop its root system, giving the plants a better chance of survival. These nurseries will require shade, water and protection from wind and stray animals.
“These are community-run nurseries that we help to kick-start by providing them with a start-up investment and best-practice models. These nurseries are also a form of income for these nurseries owners, some of whom are cocoa farmers themselves.
“Our field experts work closely with these nurseries owners to teach them to produce high quality seedlings with a high survival rate. They are given proper planting material, high-quality seeds, and the right potting mix, and are guided.
“The project model we are testing with around 50 nurseries across Sulawesi and Sumatra is suitable for nurseries producing at a large scale. Our intention is to start nurseries that will eventually become totally self-sufficient businesses in their own right.”
In 2017, these nurseries produced over 300,000 seedlings.
Other highlights of the Forever Chocolate report
Forever Chocolate is the name given to Barry Callebaut’s mission to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025, based on four targets surrounding poverty, child labour, being carbon and forest positive and using 100% sustainable ingredients in all products.
“It’s about systemic change,” said Perversi. “We can’t just do one bit, [or] do it on our own. [You] need collaboration between industry, government and NGOs – it must be a multipartite relationship to get the required momentum.”
In terms of child labour, which is more severe in locations such as Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, the report says that 12% of the farmer groups Barry Callebaut directly sources from have systems in place to ‘prevent, monitor and remediate child labour’.
This issue is less prominent in Indonesia when it comes to cocoa farms, but Perversi added that: “Our teams on the ground have noticed that child labour exists for other crops that are planted on cocoa farms, which serve as intercropping diversity.”
As for the environmental aspect, 14 of the company’s 59 factories (24%) are running on renewable energy.
“These could be running on wind, solar or water, depending on the plant’s location and the relevant costs,” added Perversi.
That said, none of Barry Callebaut’s three plants in Asia are running on renewable energy as of yet, but there are plans to put this into motion, likely to start in 2019. These plants are all located in Indonesia, in the regions of Bandung, Sulawesi and Gersik.