The company launched the ten-year $400m project in November 2012 and had been criticized by NGOs for failing to audit the program through an independent third-party.
What will Harvard do?
Today, the Cadbury and Milka brand owner said that a Harvard research team would conduct an annual evaluation to measure the impact of Cocoa Life against its five key aims.
Every three years the Harvard team will also conduct a study to assess whether the program empowers cocoa communities by comparing with control communities outside the program.
Mondelēz added that a third-party organization would trace the flow of cocoa from Cocoa Life farms into the company’s supply chain.
Leader of the research team, Michael J. Hiscox, professor of International Affairs at Harvard, said: “Mondelēz International is demonstrating leadership by setting the standard for a new generation of sustainable sourcing programs and supporting their direct investments with a robust process to verify the impact they are having on the ground.”
The announcement was made as the International Cocoa Association’s World Cocoa Conference takes place in Amsterdam.
Mars on third party verification
At the event, we asked Andy Harner, global cocoa vice-President for the chocolate segment of Mars, one of Mondelēz’s key competitors, if his company’s sustainability program Vision For Change was third-party audited.
“We started it with a third party - we work with a group called ICRAF and they are part of the World Agroforestry Centre.”
“In terms of our measurement and the analysis we do, it’s not Mars doing it, it’s actually being done in conjunction with an independent third party.”
But can the third party publish what they like?
“There’s agreements on how we publish it, but they are capturing the data usually around soil mapping and soil fertility in Côte D’Ivoire.”
“We did a study on gender a year ago and with ICRAF and we didn’t even edit the report, we just published it – definitely the goal is that level of transparency.”
“The only reason we put any kind of restrictions on that is that we would to make sure that it’s being used in a good way.”