As consumer awareness for sustainability continues to grow in the area of chocolate production, the chocolate companies and the producing countries themselves understand that they will need to improve their track record and supply evidence of their success.

Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer, plans to enhance ethical standards for its exports, reports Bloomberg. New regulation coming from the EU puts more scrutiny on the ethical production of materials through the supply chain that is sold into Europe and requires transparency.

We’ve been working on a lot of legislation and now we are doing our best on the implementation side – Patrick Achi, Prime Minister, Côte d’Ivoire

Prime Minister Patrick Achi stated that the West African country, which produces around 40% of the world’s cocoa, is attempting to combat deforestation and child labour while simultaneously raising farmer earnings in order to continue exporting to the European Union, which buys over 70% of its output.

Cocoa makes up around half of Côte d’Ivoire’s exports, which also include rubber, oil, and gold. Despite the fact that its exploitation has resulted in the country losing almost 80% of its forest cover since the 1960s, the trend is showing signs of improvement. Côte d’Ivoire now wants to extend its forest cover to 20% of its total land area by 2030.

Despite some genuine efforts to alleviate the endemic issue, farmer poverty is still a problematic topic for both sides. The recently introduced Living Income Differential (LID), which is a premium of $400 a tonne, and designated to help farmers, came at a time when market forces were pushing prices lower and this has impacted the willingness of some chocolate companies to comply.

Additionally, despite a number of companies investing in Child Labour Monitoring and Reporting System (CLMRS), the practice continues, and according to some reports, has actually worsened in the decade leading to 2019.

Achi has recently stated that although there has been a difficult start for the LID premium, he feels optimistic for the long term.

He has some cause for that optimism, driven by the chocolate companies need to actually evidence a more ethical supply chain, rather than dressing up a half-hearted effort with clever marketing.

Both the chocolate companies and the producing countries now find themselves on the same side. It is now in both parties direct economic interest to create practical solutions to the persistent problems of child labour and deforestation. The question of how far the new regulations might positively contribute to alleviating farmer poverty is perhaps a little more difficult to answer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *