Sustainable chocolate from Nicaragua now on the shelves in Colruyt, OKay and Spar Colruyt Group

Starting this week, there is a new milk and dark chocolate option on the shelves of Colruyt Lowest Prices, OKay and Spar Colruyt Group. One that comes with a bit of a story. The chocolate from the Boni Selection house brand is made with the cocoa beans from young farmers from La Campesina, a cocoa cooperative in Nicaragua. With the support of Collibri Foundation, Colruyt Group’s company fund, these young farmers are acquiring knowledge and skills in modern and sustainable cocoa production techniques. Colruyt Group, in turn, is providing a guaranteed sales market for this certified cocoa, which then ensures these farmers have financial stability. This is how we bring training and chain projects together. From 2017 to 2019, Colruyt Group is investing €2.1 million via Collibri Foundation in these kinds of training projects, with the goal of systematically linking them to sustainable chain products.

Investing in local training and more sustainable cocoa farming

Collibri Foundation, Colruyt Group’s company fund, has joined forces with Rikolto (formerly Vredeseilanden, or Islands of Peace) for this project. Over a period of five years, 75 young people from a disadvantaged economic background will participate in the La Juventud Sí Puede (Yes, Youth Can) training project. Just under half of them are girls. They are following a 20-day cocoa programme in Honduras, organised by the FHIA research institute and the CURLA university. The young people who are awarded the diploma will then pass the knowledge onto other young people in their municipality in Nicaragua, using the "Farmer Field School" principle. This means another 225 talented young people can access proper training. They will also have the opportunity to complete a placement in an innovative business or cooperative. In this way, Collibri Foundation wants to be able to offer a structured range of training in Nicaragua after five years.

As well as learning modern and sustainable ways of cultivating cocoa, they are also learning about running a business and taking action. Training in modern, sustainable cocoa production techniques offers them essential independence and resilience. Colruyt Group provides an investment of €30,000 per year in this initiative via Collibri Foundation.

Chain and training projects go hand in hand

In the regions where Collibri Foundation offers young people extra opportunities through training, small family farmers are also supported through sustainable chain projects. This creates an interaction that benefits everyone, starting with the local population. As part of this specific project, Colruyt Group buys the certified cocoa from Nicaraguan farmers, including the young people participating in the training project, thus guaranteeing a sales market for their product.

From 2017 to 2019, €2.1 million is being invested via Collibri Foundation in training projects. Mieke Vercaeren, responsible for Collibri Foundation’s training projects, adds: "Collibri Foundation makes sustainable investments in those projects, in the long term, and that is definitely an essential element. Thanks to this approach, we have now had a direct impact on some 1,000 young people via around 14 training projects worldwide."

Last year, Collibri Foundation launched four new training projects, each related to a chain project. At the moment, you can buy rice from India and coffee from Kivu in the group's shops. Astrid Baeten, Manager Sustainable Sourcing at Colruyt Group says: "Colruyt Group intends to implement a dozen sustainable chain projects by 2020, and each chain project must also result in a tangible product that we sell to our customers under our in-house brands. This allows us to offer young farmers a sales market, and thus financial security, so they can continue to invest in professionalising their organisation and in the quality of their product. The objective is for them to be able to operate independently in the market from a certain point."

Nicaragua chocolate campaign for customers: Colruyt Group doubles the income

Between 25 April and 8 May, Colruyt Group is running a special campaign to promote the two new Boni Selection chocolate bars to its customers. Customers who buy one of the bars in this period from Colruyt Lowest Prices and OKay will automatically donate €0.60 to the training project in Nicaragua — with Colruyt Group then matching the income from this campaign.

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