Together for sustainable cocoa

Chocolate bars, Easter eggs, ice cream, sprinkles, biscuits and cakes. This is just a quick glimpse of the wide range of our Boni Selection and Everyday own brand products. What do all these delicacies have in common? Cocoa. And therein lies the challenge, because sustainable cultivation of that raw material is essential for the future.

A chocolate shortage looms

Did you know that we all eat more chocolate, and therefore cocoa, than farmers can produce? There are different reasons for this. More than 70% of all cocoa in the world is produced in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, but conditions in West Africa are less than ideal. Drought has devastated many cocoa plantations, and fungal diseases often plague production. So in order to survive, African farmers seek their salvation in other crops such as maize.

The cocoa farmers who persist have a very hard time because of fragmentation in small family businesses, and incomes which are too low. Global warming is also not in their favour. Harvests are worse and there is therefore little interest in growing cocoa. They often can’t invest in new trees. And so they produce increasingly less cocoa.

Cocoa tree with fruit
Drought, fragmentation and low income put West African cocoa production under pressure.

We opt for 100 % certification

If we want to continue to enjoy delicious chocolate in the future, the production must be more sustainable. To achieve this, at Colruyt Group we go for 100% certified cocoa in all our own brand chocolates and chocolate products.

A certificate means that the farmers in question make tangible efforts to grow their cocoa responsibly, with respect for people and the environment. There are different European and international sustainability labels, each with its own emphasis. We have chosen two of them: UTZ and Fairtrade.

UTZ: better working methods, better cocoa

You won’t often find large cocoa plantations. In West Africa for example, there are nearly 2 million small family businesses which cultivate areas of less than 3 hectares. And this situation is to their disadvantage because they can rarely take advantage of modern cultivation and processing methods. Their buyers are also often organised on a global scale.

In addition to the social and ecological aspects, the UTZ programme helps these small cocoa farmers to improve their outdated methods and working conditions, so that the quality of their beans and their productivity are greatly improved. This gives them a better bargaining position on the international market and raises their standard of living.

We always choose the UTZ label for our Boni Selection and Everyday products which contain chocolate.

Boni Selection pralines with the UTZ label
189 own brand products which only contain a little cocoa also carry a sustainability label.

Protecting the land, water and natural habitats

Working with older trees in a difficult climate is detrimental to the yield. To save their crops, cocoa farmers resort to using more artificial fertilisers and chemical pesticides. They use low-quality products in large quantities. They also want to grow their crops in more open spaces, as opposed to traditional agroforestry. This leads to uncontrolled deforestation.

The programmes behind sustainability labels such as UTZ therefore make a definite contribution to the environment. Their main concerns are soil, water and waste management, protecting natural habitats and re-establishing biodiversity. How? By teaching farmers good agricultural practices, such as using fewer pesticides or alternative forms of fertilisation.

Fairtrade: a fair price for cocoa

Difficult circumstances and low incomes in the cocoa sector also have major social consequences. The Fairtrade International label is a certificate of fair trade and guarantees farmers fair sales terms and a fixed minimum price for their products. This puts them in a stronger position in the trade chain. And they can therefore take control of their own future.

For our Boni Selection Organic products, we opt for the Fairtrade certificate wherever possible.

Boni Selection Organic Fairtrade chocolate
The Fairtrade system is an efficient way to combat poverty in the South.

Labelled is good

In addition to UTZ and Fairtrade, there are other labels which aim to improve the situation of coca farmers and the whole sector. And that also applies to other product categories such as coffee and tea.

Read more

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

No proverty Decent work & economic growth Life on land