Interest in certified cocoa has grown recently in the US, with traceability being a particularly concern, Daan de Vries, head of cocoa at UTZ Certified told ConfectioneryNews.com.
UTZ Certified, which operates under the name of Good Inside in North America, said it is confident that more shipments will soon follow.
“The very first shipment of UTZ Certified cocoa to Europe happened not even two years ago (August 2009) and we expect the US will also develop strongly in the coming years,” he added.
Leading companies such as Cargill are actively investing in sustainable cocoa farming, using certification as a connecting tool, said de Vries.
“We see this shipment as our first tangible step towards a long-term sustainable supply of good cocoa for the US,” he said.
In Europe in particular, but also in Australia, companies have shown themselves willing to invest in sustainable sourcing of cocoa. This is why in 2010 many chocolate products with UTZ Certified cocoa were introduced in these regions, said de Vries.
“By working together with mainstream companies that buy raw materials in large volumes, we hope to improve the standard of living of as many farmers as possible.”
Together with Solidaridad, the UTZ scheme was set up by a number of big industry players, including Mars, Nestle, Heinz Benelux, Cargill, Ecom and Dutch retailer Ahold, along with a number of development and environmental organisations.
Since the organization started up in 2007, many other global milestones have been reached in the UTZ certified sustainable cocoa programme.
Last month, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) announced it is to source UTZ certified cocoa for the first time, after Nigeria was granted sustainable recognition for its beans.
Nigerian cocoa farmers were awarded the country’s first UTZ cocoa certification following a partnership between ADM and cocoa exporter Saro Agro-Allied which aimed to develop sustainable farming practices in the country through farmer training sessions.
In April this year, leading industrial supplier Barry Callebaut bought the majority of the first-ever shipment of UTZ certified cocoa beans from Ghana.