Ferrero has released their 2020-21 Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) Progress Report, highlighting a number of achievements, such as improved transparency in the Cocoa value chain.
In their latest report, the company admits to facing additional challenges resulting from the pandemic but states that they are nonetheless on track with their targets. The bulk of the report comes in data spread over 9 pages of tables. We scoured the data for meaningful numbers in addition to the points they wanted to highlight with the infographics, such as the ones below.
As Bill Gates points out in his excellent book on climate change, “How to avoid a climate disaster”, numbers become meaningless unless you can find a frame of reference for them. I find that true in reading these progress reports too. For example, the number of on-farm trees for planting last year was 975,025 and this year is due to reach 2,293,342. This sounds great to me, but is it? What are we comparing that to, and is it, in fact, a durable metric?
By durable metric, I mean, how well does it stand up over time? Should we be counting the number of trees given to farmers to plant, the number of trees verified as planted, or how many survive?
On the other hand, the report states the number of hectares of restored classified forest last year was only 200! This seems pitiful, but it gets worse – that’s the total number over the entire project from 2018. Prior to last year, they hadn’t restored any classified forest, and no target is set for this current year. It’s just marked as ‘TBD’ (to be determined). Yet, before we judge too harshly, do we again have any frame of reference to know whether this is good or bad. I’m sure some will know, but for the majority of us, these reports leave us as much in the dark as they do enlighten.
Ferrero is one of the founding companies of the CFI, which was launched in 2017 by the Prince of Wales, and comprises 35 member companies. Members of the initiative have committed to “working together, pre-competitively, to end deforestation and forest degradation in the Cocoa supply chain, with an initial focus on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire”.
through our strong engagement and relationships with our partners, we continued to demonstrate significant progress to achieve, and surpass, many of our 2022 goals.
Entering the fourth year of the initiative, the company’s recent update brought attention to a few key points:
- Reforestation – Through Ferrero’s additional investment through additional investment by Ferrero, 500,000 native off-farm trees were distributed between 2020-21 in an effort to restore 3,500 hectares of forest. Combined with the total on-farm trees, Ferrero has planted 2 million non-Cocoa trees in 2020-21 alone.
- Deforestation Risk Assessments – 346,000 hectares of land were assessed for deforestation risk, exceeding the 233,000 hectares achieved last year, and doubling the original target for 2022 of 140,000 hectares.
- Adoption of Agroforestry Practices – One key area of focus for the initiative is to train and encourage farmers to adopt agroforestry, which could help to diversify their income and make them more climate-resilient. Ferrero claims 69,000 farmers are now applying agroforestry methods, covering 111,000 hectares of land.
- Payment for Ecosystem Services – Another important element of creating a sustainable and ethical origin to Cocoa is ensuring farmers are receiving proper financial support. The Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) provides financial incentives and resources for farmers such as fertilisers and tools, in return for their work. Ferrero states that in 2020-21, 4,744 new farmers were onboarded, bringing the current total to over 10,000.
About the company’s initiative update, Chief Procurement & Hazelnut Company Officer at Ferrero, Marco Gonçalves, said about the company’s initiative update: “As we enter the fourth year of the Cocoa and Forest Initiative, we continue our journey and learn from best practices to further strengthen our programme as well as continue to support and promote sector-wide initiatives.”
Looking beyond their report, Ferrero has a dedicated site for their sustainability programme. Here one of the ‘soft’ numbers that stood out to me was the longer-term relationships the company refers to. Long term relationships are important to establishing a foundation because it creates consistency. Here’s what they say:
• we source about 75% of our cocoa as cocoa beans that we process in-house and use in our products.
• we buy these beans as physically traceable, also known as ‘segregated’, which means we can trace these beans from farm to our factories. This is for example the case for our brand Nutella.
• we establish long-term relationships with farmer groups through our direct suppliers, and we support them with our sustainability programme:
– in 20/21, we sourced about 90% of our total cocoa volume from farmer groups with whom we have a long-term relationship; 60% of these groups have been in our supply chain for three years or more, and 10% even seven years or more.
– we sourced the remaining 10% of our cocoa volume from farmers’ groups in our supplier’s network – in other words, from known sources as well. These farmer groups are not linked to Ferrero only, but to several customers.
• we use technology to map farms and sourcing areas so that we know their location, size and productivity, as well as to monitor deforestation risks.
Perhaps a more fundamental question is whether any of this is making a dent in the problem?
Côte d’Ivoire accounts for at least 25% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and 75% of its exports from agriculture. This has led directly to the country’s forest cover shrinking by 90% over the past 60 years. As for fauna, only three species of the 120 targeted species have been observed in the wild more than 40% of the time.
According to the new Forest and Wildlife Inventory of Ivory Coast (IFFN), the forest cover of the country now stands at 2.97 million hectares or 9.2% of its total area. Only 13.3% of classified forests and 32.2% of protected areas still contain forest cover.
image source: jbdodane | Flickr