Italian chocolate makers Ferrero, have recently unveiled their Cocoa Charter and Cocoa Action Plan, renewing their commitment to responsible sourcing of ingredients for their products.

The brand, famous for products such as Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, have said that they “seek excellence along the whole value chain, with particular focus on economic, social and environmental quality of the raw materials that we rely on for the production of our products.”

In 2011, the company committed itself to responsibly sourcing Cocoa 100% certified, as sustainable by 2020. Ferrero now claims to have accomplished this goal. “All our cocoa is sourced via independently managed sustainability standards like Rainforest Alliance (UTZ), Fairtrade and others.” Certified farms such as these, must adhere to much stricter standards in order to ensure environmental, social and economic stability.

Cocoa growers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where Ferrero sources most of their Cocoa, face a range of economic, social, and environmental problems, ranging from lack of resources and training to unpredictable climate conditions. Ferrero has acknowledged the complexity of the situation for Cocoa farmers and aims to address the individual issues through a multi-layered approach.

In their recent Cocoa Action Plan, Ferrero outlined four key commitments that will further drive their actions towards sustainable business practices, along with some of the steps they will be taking to achieve these commitments.

  1. Support Cocoa farmers to prosper
    Provide targeted support to farmers through Farm Development Plans, and Income Generating Activities to, quote, “help increase their Cocoa productivity and diversify their income.” They will also pay an additional cash premium directly to farmers on top of the Living Income Differential.
  2. Protect children and provide joyful growth
    Put systems in place to identify households at risk of child labour in their Cocoa supply chain and to remediate any identified cases. In this regard, it will be interesting to see how they define, what is child labour, in this contentious and divisive issue.
  3. Contribute to end deforestation and promote biodiversity
    In 2017, Ferrero joined the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI). Their activities under CFI aim to support ending deforestation in the Cocoa industry and promoting sustainability in Cocoa production. The CFI has come under some criticism from organisations such as Mighty Earth, for failing to live up to their mandate. We hope more progress can be made, especially following the promises made from COP26.
  4. Realising a transparent and compliant value chain, traceable to the farm level.
    Strengthening their partnerships with suppliers and leveraging the most advanced technology available, to further enhance the visibility of their value chain. To provide visibility over their entire supply-chain, Ferrero wants to develop a Cocoa-dedicated platform.

We welcome the desire to build a transparent supply-chain, although its noted that they company is years behind others who already have systems in place.

The company states:

Our ambition is to be a driving force behind the transformation towards a responsible Cocoa sector, where the livelihoods of smallholders and farming communities are improved, children’s rights are respected, and the environment is protected and enhanced through sustainable agricultural practises.

An annual report will be released, documenting the progress towards the goals set out in the Cocoa Action Plan, with the first report expected in Q2 of 2022.

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