The bars hit shelves of all 315 stores in Benelux (Belgium and Luxembourg) this month for an RRP of €1.99 ($2.20) in four flavors: milk chocolate, ‘pure,’ caramel sea salt and pecan coconut.
Existing Lidl-brand chocolate products already carry Fairtrade certifications, but the company will now help finance 440 Ghanaian cocoa farmers with additional income.
Lidl has teamed up with the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative, which strives to support women in cocoa, and Rikolto (formerly known as Vredeseilanden), a Belgian nonprofit that advocates for farmers in Southeast Asia and, since 2016, around the world.
The cooperative partnership in particular opens the door for Lidl customers to be assured “that part of the money they pay for the chocolate in the store goes directly to the farmers – without intermediate steps,” said Boudewijn van den Brand, CEO of Lidl Belgium.
Extra premium will help farmers diversify their incomes, says Lidl
Lidl said this initiative will not only give farmers more money for their cocoa, but it will also assist them in diversifying their crops to include the likes of rice and honey.
Sustainability director Philippe Weiler said training would play a key role in this program.
“Farmers will be guided in the professionalization of their harvesting techniques,” he explained, including pruning and spraying methods, as well as soil cultivation. “In this way, farmers can achieve a considerably higher return on their production. Both projects must lead to a significant increase in the incomes of cocoa farmers in a short period of time.”
Lidl's Fairtrade, responsible sourcing promise
In Benelux, all Lidl-brand SKUs made with chocolate already feature either cocoa certified by UTZ, the Rainforest Alliance, the Fairtrade alliance (including Fairtrade Single Sourcing), or Bio. In some cases, the products boast more than one certification, the company said in a statement.
Lidl was one of dozens of companies to agree in December 2018 to the ‘Beyond chocolate’ charter – a pact in which all chocolate will be produced sustainably by 2025. By 2030, the group hopes that cocoa farmers will receive a ‘viable income.'
The departing minister for development cooperation in Belgium, Alexander De Croo, co-created that program. He said Lidl’s commitment to such sustainability was ‘encouraging,’ especially because Belgium imports more than 300k tons of chocolate – among the top three importing nations in Europe.
Lidl said its employees in purchasing and corporate social responsibility departments spearheaded the Way to Go chocolate line, which is produced by German chocolate maker Ludwig Weinrich.
“It is great to see how sustainability is ingrained in our employees,” said van den Brand. “Consumers are increasingly considering the traceability of products and whether they are grown in a sustainable way. With this initiative, we want to show that we take it seriously.”