Mondelēz scales up Cocoa Life, but total volumes sourced sustainably flat at 21%

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Mondelēz to transition out of certified cocoa to focus on own program Cocoa Life. Photo credit: MDLZ
Mondelēz to transition out of certified cocoa to focus on own program Cocoa Life. Photo credit: MDLZ

Related tags Cocoa life Chocolate Ghana Sustainability

Mondelēz International reached more farmers via its Cocoa Life program in 2016, but total volumes of sustainable cocoa were unchanged year-on-year.

In a recently published Cocoa Life progress report​,​ the company said it sourced 21% of its cocoa supply sustainably – either via Cocoa Life or a third party certification – by the end of 2016.

This was the same proportion as in 2015, although the Cadbury maker’s Cocoa Life program has since reached 15,300 more cocoa farmers.

‘We first need to expand the numbers…’

Jane Corcoran, corporate external communications at Mondelēz International, told ConfectioneryNews: “In order to increase our sustainably-sourced volumes, we first need to expand the numbers of farmers participating in the program, which was our focus last year.

“In fact, we grew Cocoa Life substantially, driven by the sizable increase in the number of farmers and communities that we successfully brought into the program.”

Cocoa Life reached 92,000 cocoa farmers by the end of 2016.  It aims to reach 200,000 cocoa farmers and 1m community members by 2022.

cocoa life progress graphic
Photo: MDLZ

Scaling up to 100%

The company’s latest progress report said: “The ultimate goal is to source all cocoa sustainably, mainly via Cocoa Life.”

Caobisco (European confectionery association) president Alessandro Cagli, also public affairs director at Ferrero, in June​ urged companies to commit to deadlines to source 100% sustainable cocoa and palm oil.

Mondelēz’s Corcoran said: “We have not set a deadline for achieving 100% sustainably-sourced cocoa.

“Our holistic approach is meant to create lasting, transformative change in the cocoa supply chain, which is constrained by a complex range of technical, environmental and socio-economic challenges.

“Building solutions will take time. Therefore, we don’t think setting deadlines for achieving 100% sustainable cocoa is realistic.”

‘Transitioning out of certified…’

Mondelēz declined to specify the percentage of sustainable volumes coming via its own program Cocoa Life and the amount coming from third party certification such as UTZ and Fairtrade.

But Corcoran said:“We’re progressively bringing Cocoa Life to our brands and transitioning out of certified volume.”

The company in November last year named Fairtrade as its global implementing partner for Cocoa Life, marking a new way in which certification programs work with chocolate brands. See HERE​ for more details.

Cocoa Life: 10-year, $450m program

The Milka and Oreo brand owner launched its 10-year, $450m Cocoa Life program in 2012. It built on the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, founded in 2008 in Ghana.

Cocoa Life is active mainly in Ghana, Côte D’Ivoire and Indonesia with operations also in Dominican Republic, Brazil and India.

The program works with farmers and cocoa-growing communities to enhance five focus areas:

  1. Farming (e.g. mapping, good agricultural practices training)
  2. Community (e.g. gender awareness training)
  3. Livelihoods ( e.g. setting up Village Savings and Loan Associations)
  4. Youth (e.g. establishing child labor monitoring and remediation systems)
  5. Environment (e.g. training and shade tree distribution)
    cocoa life 2016 progress
    Source: MDLZ

Research agency Ipsos annually assesses Cocoa Life’s outcomes against 10 global key performance indicators​ (KPIs). (See also image below).

Certification body FLOCERT verifies the flow of cocoa from Cocoa Life communities into Mondelēz’s supply chain and the benefits received by farmers.

Cocoa Life 10 kpis
Source: MDLZ

Farm mapping and child labor prevention

Mondelēz said in its progress report it has acted on advice by human rights consultancy Embode to strengthen child protection by implementing community-based Child Labor Monitoring & Remediation Systems (CLMRS).

Cocoa Life had a CLMRS in 96 communities by the end of 2016, out of the 861 communities it covers.

Mondelēz also mapped almost 115,000 hectares of cocoa farms by the end of last year.

“This is critical as it helps us understand if farmers’ productivity improves and gives us information on whether farmers are encroaching on protected forest areas, so that we can take action accordingly,”​ said Cathy Pieters, program director of Cocoa Life.

Mondelēz has launched a publically available Interactive Cocoa Farm Map​ that shows the location and size of its Cocoa Life farms, as well as the number of farmers in the program. 

cocoa life seedlings
Source: MDLZ

Cocoa seedling expansion

The company said one of its most successful Cocoa Life interventions in 2016 was expanding its seedling program.

The chocolate maker has distributed 2,731,348 cocoa seedlings – developed at professional nurseries - since Cocoa Life’s launch to the end of 2016. Last year it expanded the seedlings program beyond Ghana to Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia.

What about income and yields?

The latest Cocoa Life progress report does not contain data on yield and income changes for farmers in the program.

Mondelēz expects to publish income and yield data for its top three Cocoa Life origins - Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia – later this year.

Its previous progress report said farmer income increased 49% more and cocoa yield increased 37% more in Ghanaian Cocoa Life communities than in communities outside the program. 

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

New sweetener insights to guide product development

New sweetener insights to guide product development

Content provided by Cargill Health Promoting Ingredients | 02-Jun-2023 | White Paper

Consumers have consistently expressed a desire to reduce sugar. But attitudes toward specific sweetening strategies, and which claims are most impactful,...

Almonds + Chocolate: A Wellness Favorite

Almonds + Chocolate: A Wellness Favorite

Content provided by Almond Board of California | 14-Apr-2023 | White Paper

See the key insights from consumer research that shows why almonds are an ideal ingredient in chocolate products.

Related suppliers

1 comment


Posted by Eric K. Meredith,

They talk about setting up Village S & L, but first MUST get LICENSED!!! Then the INTEREST CHARGED to the farmer if they could get, would blow your mind!! Ghana has the HIGHEST INTEREST RATES in the WORLD the last THREE (3) years. The Banks , S & L or MICRO FINANCIERS are worst than LOAN SHARKS in the U.S.!! Some of the Banks charge as much as 100% interest per year. Plus the amount of money the farmer gets is set by the GOVERNMENT at a little over $100 U.S. Dollars per bag. or approx $0.80 Dollar per Pound. The Interest rate can be up to or more than 100% per year Interest on the loan. How can anyone repay the loan, if you borrow $1,000 Dollars & repay $2,000 dollars in 1 year.

Everything sounds great, but the farmer can not make ends meet. If the farmer can make a profit & be able to pay their bills. Then I believe Sustainability would work. LOW INTEREST LOANS would be the answer. EVEN at the rate of 36% per year would be a break. But trying to get the farmer to repay the loans become another issue. The farmers do not own the land most of the time & only get a 1/3rd of the crop for taking care of the trees. Trying to get them to work to make a living is even harder. This Especially in WEST AFRICA is a very hard thing. Yes in Ghana they are suppose to get seedlings & fertilizer, but that is gone before it gets to the people who need it. These are very good ideas, but to make sure the money can get to where it is suppose to be is the hardest part. You have a lot of good people, do not get me wrong, but you also have a lot of people that do not do the right things. They benefit when the farmer loses. The money is gone far before it ever gets to the farmer. These are the MAIN PROBLEMS that MUST be over come first. I wish the best for trying & would love to see the farmer get a small piece of the pie.

Report abuse