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.
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 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.
“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.