- Chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut announced in a press release that 44% of its cocoa and 44% of its other ingredients are now sustainably sourced. Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of the Barry Callebaut Group, said in the release that those numbers puts the company "well on track to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025."
- The company's goals — called Forever Chocolate — are to bring more than 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty, eradicate child labor from its supply chain, reduce its carbon footprint and have 100% sustainable ingredients in all products by 2025. In its second year, the company has increased the quantity of sustainably sourced chocolate from 36% to 44%, according to the new report.
- Additionally, the report noted Barry Callebaut helped replant 2.1 million young cocoa seedlings and 400,000 shade trees to ensure the continuation of cocoa production.
In the past, the cocoa industry has been criticized for its use of child labor and environmental degradation, prompting Barry Callebaut to reassess its role in the supply chain. Not only has the industry been criticized from a social perspective, but the continued persistence of these conditions have contributed to an increasingly threatening climatic situation for cocoa crops. As a result, studies have reported that the world's chocolate supply could be in danger.
Deforestation is one of the biggest causes of global warming and it is threatening the ecosystem that provides chocolate ingredients. As it stands, 53% of the world’s cocoa-growing areas are in West Africa, where researchers found it may become impossible to produce a crop due to climate change as soon as 2050.
At the same time, global demand for chocolate has soared, particularly in the U.S. As the largest global market for chocolate, U.S. sales were about $22 billion in 2016 and are projected to surpass $30 billion by 2021, according to a 2016 TechSci Research report.
Recognizing that consumers would be less than thrilled to give up chocolate and that these climate impacts could hurt their bottom line, Barry Callebaut has ambitiously made the goal of not only sustainably sourcing its own chocolate, but making it the industry norm by 2025. The company hopes that will be sufficient time to turn the tide of the grim predictions for the future of chocolate. With an increase of 8 percentage points in its second year, Barry Callebaut seems confident in meeting the goals.
Despite a not-so-rosy outlook overall, there is a chance that the future of chocolate may change. Earlier this year, Hershey announced a $500 million investment in West African cocoa sustainability, and Nestlé, Lindt, Mars, Mondelez, Cargill and Barry Callebaut have all ramped up their investments and pledges in sustainability. Cargill, in particular, has had some success with its Cargill Cocoa Promise that encourages good farming practices. According to Ingredients Network, cocoa yields jumped by an average of 49% in 2016 and 2017.
But as of earlier this year, reports are still indicating that corporate sustainability initiatives haven't had the desired impact. Perhaps the threat of losing a beloved industry will propel producers to see the benefits of engaging in transparent and sustainable practices — both for the longevity of the ingredient and for the industry as a whole — and begin to implement these idealistic initiatives as standard practice.