In an investigation surveying 19 chocolate/cocoa products makers about their deforestation efforts, only four received a positive overall score: Hershey, Chocolats Halba, Unilever and Godiva, according to Mighty Earth.
The survey questionnaire includes three main columns: improving West African cocoa, agroforestry for all cocoa worldwide and deforestation-free cocoa worldwide.
“For the first criteria column, we checked to see if the company is a part of the Cocoa and Forest Initiative, and if they have signed the Frameworks for Action,” Etelle Higonnet, campaign manager at the nonprofit, explained. While, agroforestry refers to forest-friendly, shade-grown cocoa, she added.
“To grade each company, we created a three-tiered system,” Higonnet continued. “If the company has a clear policy and strong commitment, then it is green. If not, it is red. Yellow represents a wide range of everything in between green and red. For example: if a company agrees to all agroforestry cocoa in Côte d'Ivoire but nowhere else, it is yellow.”
Chocolate companies’ feedback
According to the survey results, Mars, Mondelēz and Ferrero have signed Frameworks for Action, yet there is still work ahead for them to achieve deforestation-free cocoa globally because the action only applies to Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.
Ferrero earlier told Mighty Earth that it does not have a deforestation cocoa policy, but it will be ready by the end of 2018.
“We are working to define a global policy. Lessons learned and good practices in West Africa as well as from other commodities are key to the contents of a global policy,” the Nutella maker said.
“Ferrero welcomes the assessment and input by third parties, such as Mighty Earth, which will support Ferrero in achieving its goals towards combatting deforestation in the cocoa sector,” it added.
Meanwhile, Mondelēz responded: “Since 2012, our ambition is to source all our cocoa sustainably, mainly from Cocoa Life which operates in six countries including Indonesia with an environmental focus that includes no deforestation for cocoa.”
However, the company has yet to set a timeframe for its sustainability target, according to ConfectioneryNews.
“It’s not realistic [for our cocoa to be fully sustainable by 2020] because our 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,” Mondelēz previously said.
Mars’ feedback to Mighty Earth’s inquiry is not immediately available.
Pladis: We’re working towards responsibly-sourced cocoa
Among all the major chocolate companies, Mighty Earth gave Pladis the lowest rating – red marks for all three criteria, according to the scorecard.
“Sadly, Pladis is one of the few companies that did not answer us at all,” said Higonnet.
But a Pladis spokesperson later explained to ConfectioneryNews that the company is new to the cocoa sector.
“We’re working with our suppliers and with organizations such as World Cocoa Foundation and Cocoa Horizons Foundation to continually work towards ensuring our cocoa is responsibly sourced,” the spokesperson said.
However, Pladis-owned Godiva stood out as one of the four companies that received an overall positive rating.
“We factored in some additional elements for Godiva, including the consideration that they’re making a cross-commodity that will cover everything including their packaging, their sugar, their nuts, and every other ingredients,” said Higonnet.
“It seems like a really important step to recognize, not only to encourage Godiva to continue its work, but also to spur other chocolate companies to do the same,” she added.
Deforestation may extend to other countries
“The omission [of no deforestation policy] is problematic, since we saw a high risk of large-scale deforestation for cocoa everywhere we looked: Cameroon, Indonesia, Peru, Ecuador,” Higonnet noted.
“It is quite likely the problem extends to yet other producing countries, even the ones we have not yet had to examine,” she said. “If the problem is global, the solution should be global too.”
Mighty Earth said it is planning a separate scorecard for Halloween this year with an expanded list that includes more European retailers, as the EU being the number one consumer of chocolate.