Retailers need to up sustainable cocoa game, says BDSI

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

BDSI asks: Why are German retailers not doing more on sustainable cocoa?
BDSI asks: Why are German retailers not doing more on sustainable cocoa?

Related tags Sustainable cocoa Sustainability Biodiversity

Supermarkets in Germany cannot neglect their role in bringing about a sustainable cocoa supply chain, says the German confectionery association BDSI.

The trade body, whose members include Mars and Mondelēz, recently hosted ‘Confectionery in Dialogue - Brussels meets Sweets’,​ an event in Brussels aimed to raise awareness of the challenges of sustainable cocoa.

“The result was that all the Brussels representatives got to see it was a very complex issue,”​ Torben Erbrath, managing director of BDSI told ConfectioneryNews.

Retailers absent

He said that while the industry, politicians and NGOs were present at the meeting, there was one notable absentee.

“The retailers were not there, which was a pity. Retailers are the ones who are in direct contact with consumers at the point of sale. The communication for the consumer is not there.”

“We need more common efforts of all the stakeholders.”

The German market is dominated by around six retailers – Lidl, REWE, Aldi, Tegut, Edeka and the Tengelmann Group.

Erbrath said that retailers needed to develop a strategy on cocoa sustainability that was communicated in corporate social responsibility reports. He added that retailers could do more to promote sustainable chocolate brands in store.

We asked Lidl, Aldi North, Aldi South and Edeka why they couldn’t stock only products that use sustainable cocoa.

Aldi South commitments

Aldi South spokesperson Lina Unterbörsch said that her company had set sustainability standards in vital areas, such as palm oil.

“With regard to cocoa, we are currently also right in the middle of a successful change process. Approximately 80% of all cocoa used in our confectionery is already UTZ certified. We are thus moving in the right direction.”

“Furthermore, we would like to stress that we are well-represented in various committees that are dedicated to the topic of sustainability. This also applies to our suppliers. However, please understand that we are neither able to participate in all events offered nor provided with invitations to all available events.”

Lidl response

Lidl also alluded to its commitments with UTZ. “We are currently working to make improvements within the chocolate industry. Lidl, together with other internationally recognised partners, are doing great efforts for future-viable and sustainable cocoa farming,” ​said Lidl spokesperson Petra Trabert.

“Lidl has readily signed itself up to the UTZ Certified programme for the development of sustainable cocoa farming – without affecting the price of our chocolate products.”

Lidl used 10% UTZ Certified cocoa in its private label Fin Carré chocolate brand in 2012 and has committed to 100% by 2020.

Neither Lidl nor Aldi South explained why they couldn’t stock only third party products that use sustainable cocoa. Edeka and Aldi North did not respond to our enquiries.

BDSI showed the following video to EU delegates

Moving to 100%

According to the BDSI, 17.5% of cocoa used in Germany in 2013 was sustainably produced, up from 7% on the prior year. The proportion of sustainable cocoa on the world market is still under 5%.

The BDSI has defined sustainable cocoa as cocoa from third party certifiers such as Fairtrade and UTZ, as well as cocoa procured through any company sustainability program.

It has urged its members to increase their share of sustainably produced cocoa to 50% by 2020 and 70% by 2025. It has not set a deadline for 100% sustainable cocoa unlike the Netherlands, which has pledged 100% certified sustainable cocoa by 2025.

“The goal would be 100% as soon as possible, but you have to be realistic – we are talking about a market where you have 10 times the amount of cocoa compared to the Netherlands,”​ said Erbrath.

Industry commitments

“The main challenge is to address the unorganized farmers in the cocoa world,”​ said Erbrath, adding that industry had made significant progress.

The top five confectioners as well as major suppliers such as Barry Callebaut and Cargill recently came together to form CocoaAction, a collaborative effort to align sustainability programs.

Separately many confectioners such as Mars, Ferrero and Hershey have committed to using only certified cocoa by 2020. Mondelēz has its own 10-year $400m sustainability program and Nestlé has pledged $116m between 2012 and 2022 for its program.

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Quality should be key

Posted by Tom De Winne,

It is not only about making the production side more sustainable. If customers will pay more for sustainable cocoa, today, they can only trust that concept. They should be able to feel the difference as a customer. If a customer wants to pay more for chocolate, the flavor of the chocolate needs to be better. So improving quality and consistency in post-harvest processes is the key to convince customers and pay farmers a higher price at farm gate.

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Posted by Steen Johansen,

From farmers view, what the point of certification, when he is only paid 1,59 usd per kilo? Todays price is barely 3000,.usd pr ton.he doesnt get increased salary! In 1977 the cocoa price was above 17,000 usd per ton. Why has the price decreased so much since?

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