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Ferrero promises transparency as it sets 2020 target for sustainable cocoa

By Oliver Nieburg , 16-Apr-2012

An estimated 284,000 children work on cocoa farms in West Africa, according to studies. Photo Credit: ILRF
An estimated 284,000 children work on cocoa farms in West Africa, according to studies. Photo Credit: ILRF

Italian confectioner Ferrero has announced its short term goals towards sourcing 100% third-party verified sustainable cocoa by its 2020 target.

The 2020 target was revealed in the company’s Corporate Sustainability Report (CSR) last year, but it has now announced short-term goals towards meeting its aim.

Ferrero said it took the decision “in the light of the need for transparency in the cocoa sector”.

The targets

Ferrero plans to verify the cocoa it sources through organisations including UTZ Certified, Rainforest Alliance and Source Trust as follows:

  • 20% by 2011/2013
  • 40% by 2013/2015
  • 60% by 2015/2017
  • 80% by 2017/2019
  • 100% by 2020

In its 2010 Cocoa Barometer, the Tropical Commodity Coalition said that of Ferrero’s 135,000 tonne cocoa none was certified, while Ferrero said in its last CSR for 2009/10 that about 10% was certified.

Source: The Tropical Commodity Coalition's 2010 Cocoa Barometer

A Ferrero spokesperson told ConfectioneryNews.com: “Unfortunately, no one can today  guarantee ‘no child labour’, but  verification will aim to ensure, among other issues, that trafficking, the worst forms of child labour and forced adult labour, will be eradicated from the plantations that Ferrero source its cocoa from.”

The spokesperson said sourcing the quantity and the quality needed and potential political instability in producing countries would be big challenges.

The company plans to set out a more detailed roadmap in its third CSR, due mid-2012 and will communicate progress in its CSRs annually.

Reaction

Antonie Fountain, director of STOP THE TRAFFIK Netherlands told this site: “I’d like to see it faster, but it’s a big step to take.”

He said that Ferrero was among the first to make such a commitment after Mars also made a pledge to go 100% certified by 2020.

The commitments are in line with the 2001 Harkin Engel Protocol to completely elimate the worst forms of child labour by 2005, but will come some 15 years later.

The Harkin Engel target was later revised to a 70% reduction in a Framework for Cooperation signed by the US Department of Labor and the governments of Cote d'Ivoire & Ghana.

Fountain was disappointed that Ferrero had not committed to putting certification on labels.

However, he added that Mars and Ferrero had “set the bar high” for other companies like Nestle and Kraft/Cadbury, which he claimed had yet to make sweeping commitments on sustainable sourcing.

Still ‘dragging its feet’?

Last month, Sean Rudolph, campaigns director at the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) told this site that Ferrero had been “dragging its feet” in tracing child labour.

When contacted about Ferrero’s latest pledge, he seemed to welcome the commitment, but hit out at another major chocolate firm.

"Ferrero's move makes Hershey miserly promises look phony and insincere. Once again, Hershey is the industry bottom feeder when it comes to addressing the issue of child labour in chocolate."

Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications at Hershey, said last month: “The Hershey Company has been very transparent and clear about our plans to address the labour issues in West Africa. “

In January, Hershey announced that it would source cocoa for Hershey’s Bliss chocolates from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and reiterated a long term commitment to invest $10m by 2017 to reduce child labour and improve cocoa supply in West Africa.

Soon after EU resolution on cocoa child labour

Ferrero’s move comes just a few weeks after The European Parliament gave its consent to the 2010 International Cocoa Agreement and passed a resolution on child labour in the cocoa sector.

The resolution calls on all stakeholders, including chocolate manufacturers, to live up to their responsibilities in combating forced child labour and collaborate towards a sustainable cocoa supply chain free from child labour.

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