Cocoa sustainability

Mondelēz to monitor child labor in Côte d'Ivoire after upping volume of sustainably sourced cocoa

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Mondelēz has been switching from third-party certifications to Cocoa Life. Pic: United States Department of Agriculture
Mondelēz has been switching from third-party certifications to Cocoa Life. Pic: United States Department of Agriculture
Cocoa Life will start preventing child labor from Mondelēz’s cocoa farms in Côte d'Ivoire through its Child Labor Monitoring & Remediation Systems (CLMRS), after the program reached more farmers in 2017.

According to Cocoa Life’s latest progress report​, the sustainability program covered up to 120,500 farmers by the end of 2017, a 31% increase compared to 2016. It also increased its sustainable cocoa sourcing to 35%, up 14% from 2016.

These sustainably sourced cocoa beans have been expanded to more products, including the full Cadbury Dairy Milk line in the UK and Ireland, as well as Oreo cookies in Europe, said Mondelēz.

Cocoa Life 1

Mondelēz previously said it sourced 21% of its cocoa supply sustainably in 2016, the same proportion​ as in 2015, according to ConfectioneryNews. It explained, “We first need to expand the numbers of farmers participating in the program, which was our focus last year (2016).”

But how did Mondelēz increase sustainable cocoa volume and expand participating farmers at the same time in 2017?

Valerie Moens, the company’s spokesperson, explained, “We’ve been working on scaling up Cocoa Life volume and expanding the number of farmers all along.

“The percentage of sustainable beans remained flat from 2015 to 2016 as we were switching from certification to Cocoa Life sourced cocoa,”​ she added. “In 2017, as we scaled up Cocoa Life volumes, this drove growth in overall sustainable sourced volume.”

‘We’ve reduced the certified volume…’

Mondelēz’s competitors have previously pledged to source 100% certified cocoa beans by 2020 under the pressure of European confectionery association Caobisco​.

However, as the Oreo maker told us, setting a date for full sustainably cocoa sourcing is “not realistic”​ as the industry is constrained by a range of technical, environmental and socio-economic challenges.

Mondelēz also declined to specify the percentage of its sustainably sourced cocoa beans coming from Cocoa Life versus other third-party certifications, such as UTZ and Fairtrade.

Moens told us, “We’ve reduced certified volume in recent years as we transitioned our brands to Cocoa Life… So today, the vast majority [of our cocoa beans] comes from Cocoa Life.”

Additionally, the progress report showed that Cocoa Life mapped 136,000 hectares of cocoa farms (up 18% compared to 2016) to measure productivity and farmers’ proximity to protected forest areas.

Child Labor prevention

Mondelēz said it commissioned Embode, an independent human rights consultancy, to help Cocoa Life analyze the environment and national child protection infrastructure in Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Indonesia in 2015.

In 2016, Cocoa Life implemented a CLMRS in 96 cocoa farming communities in Ghana to tackle child labor, and it brought the system further to 137 communities in 2017 with a goal of reaching all of its communities in Ghana (447 in total) this year.

However, CLMRS remains a whitespace among 443 cocoa communities in Côte d'Ivoire – that is why Cocoa Life decided to roll out the system to the West African country this year based on its learnings from Ghana, the company said.


Mondelēz did not disclose how many more communities CLMRS will cover in 2018.

Moens explained: “We can’t give specific numbers yet as we’re at the beginning of our journey for the activation of CLMRS in Côte d'Ivoire. Our ultimate goal is to have a CLMRS in all Cocoa Life communities.

“It’s important to remember that the societal and economic climates in each origin are different circumstances contributing to child labor,”​ she added. “Implementation of child labor sensitization and CLMRS are community-based and therefore take time.”

Seedling program expansion

Cocoa Life distributed nearly 5.8 million cocoa seedlings to increase productivity and promote growth of higher quality cocoa in 2017, according to the report.

That number represents an over 111% increase compared to 2,731,348 cocoa seedlings distributed in 2016, said Mondelēz.

Cocoa Life 2

As a result, Cocoa Life-covered farmers saw a 10% cocoa yields increase on average last year, and their annual income grew by 32%.

The company noted earlier the seeding program expansion​ is one of its most successful Cocoa Life interventions.

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