- Chocolate ingredients leader Barry Callebaut sharpened its sustainability targets under its Forever Chocolate initiative this week.
- The revamped goals include mobilizing stakeholders to better support and implement a cocoa farming model generating living income by 2030; decarbonizing the company’s supply chain in line with efforts to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030; becoming a net zero company by 2050; becoming forest-positive by 2025; and having 100% certified or verified cocoa and ingredients in all products by 2030.
- Barry Callebaut first announced its Forever Chocolate program in 2016, which set goals to improve farmer quality of life, sustainability and traceability by 2025.
At first glance, it looks like Barry Callebaut could be stepping back from its initial goals. The vast majority of the goals announced this week are for initiatives to be completed by 2030, five years later than the original set.
But Nicolas Mounard, vice president of sustainability and farming at Barry Callebaut, said on a Wednesday webcast announcing the new goals that isn’t the case. These initiatives, he said, are updated and more ambitious versions of the initial ones announced seven years ago.
The chocolate industry has acknowledged widespread human rights and environmental abuses. By going back and making the company’s goals more detailed, Barry Callebaut is making it easier for advocates, other manufacturers and consumers to measure its progress.
The company, officials said, is still on track to meet its 2016 goal of bringing 500,000 cocoa farmers out of extreme poverty by 2025. However, to do more to make a difference for those cocoa farmers, Mounard said a framework is needed to give farmers the economic ability to invest more into improving and maintaining their farms. Outside reports have also advocated for this kind of change to help cocoa farmers.
The initial goals included eradicating child poverty by 2025. In an interview Barry Callebaut included as part of its presentation, Joyce Poku-Marboah, senior project manager of child and forced labor with the Rainforest Alliance, said that goal is not easy to meet. There are systemic community problems from which child labor stems, including poverty and gender inequality. Better community support can work to fix the problem, and Barry Callebaut’s new goals include remediating all identified cases of child labor.
Barry Callebaut’s revamped environmental goals bring in sustainability standards set by others so that actual progress — or lack thereof — can be objectively seen.
The company, which does business globally but is headquartered in Switzerland, will be subject to the E.U.’s new law requiring companies to prove their products haven’t been sourced from anything leading to deforestation.
Barry Callebaut is aiming to have net-zero emissions by 2050. This includes not just cacao farming, but processing and manufacturing, as well as global transit of products. In the presentation, Taryn Ridley, who oversees Barry Callebaut’s ESG integration and communications, said in the presentation the company had transitioned to working to neutralize its emissions impact internally rather than buying carbon offsets.
Requiring all of the ingredients Barry Callebaut uses to be certified or verified provides an external definition and allows reporting to be more precise, Oliver von Hagen, the company’s director of sustainability for global ingredients, said at the presentation.
The initial goal was for 100% of ingredients to be sustainable by 2025. Von Hagen said while the company has changed its sourcing practices after the first set of goals, there are some ingredients that the company uses in smaller quantities that have been more challenging to get sustainably.
Other food companies using cocoa have recently enhanced their investments in economic and social sustainability. In January, Nestlé committed to tripling its cocoa sustainability funding to help farmers by 2030. Last October, Mondelēz pledged to spend $300 million more on its Cocoa Life program, which provides similar farmer aid, by 2030.