The announcement came shortly after Mondelēz decided to switch all Cadbury products, and potentially other brands, from Fairtrade to its own cocoa sustainability label, Cocoa Life. Fairtrade, however, will remain as a partner and will continue monitoring Cocoa Life.
Building climate resilience
Senior global account manager at Fairtrade, Katie Burgess, said the program was initiated “because of the immediate challenges producers are facing as a result of climate change to their crops and livelihoods.”
“We’ve started working on this already, and for 2017, the objectives are to carry out consultation with the unions and producers to conduct research and scoping work identifying priorities for farmers ahead of program implementation,” Burgess said.
Along with Fairtrade, Mondelēz mentioned it is also working with other partners to help “build climate resilience.”
“So monitoring will only begin when the joint program in Ghana is established,” Burgess added.
Mondelēz and Fairtrade did not offer further details on the program.
High bar for Fairtrade partners
Mondelēz’s decision to transition Cadbury into Cocoa Life came before UTZ and Rainforest Alliance’s announcement of their merger, which is expected to take place later this year.
Asked if their merger indicates that there will be more consolidation in the world of cocoa sustainability certification or the opposite – chocolate companies set up their own sustainability programs, Burgess said, “It is still too early to say what will happen.”
The CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation (an independent non-profit organization that licenses use of the Fairtrade label in the UK), Michael Gidney, recently told Guardian that he was supportive of chocolate companies who want to set up their in-house schemes and create their own standards.
However, “Fairtrade is setting the bar high for partnerships and will only engage with sustainability programs that we believe will help us reach our vision, deliver significant impact for farmers and workers and which meet our principles,” Burgess said.
By the end of 2016, Cocoa Life program had reached 92,000 cocoa farmers in more than 861 communities, and 21% of Mondelēz’s cocoa was sustainably sourced, according the latest Cocoa Life progress report.
The $400m program aims to reach 200,000 cocoa farmers by 2022, Mondelēz said.