Forever Ghana: How Barry Callebaut’s subsidy of efficient cooking stoves for cocoa farmers is also helping its carbon footprint

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sustainability Cocoa Ghana Barry callebaut

In the second of a series of articles on Barry Callebaut’s operations in Ghana we look at the company’s carbon reduction strategy in West Africa – as the group announced that it is contributing to the collective efforts of climate change to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Barry Callebaut says it has succeeded in reducing its carbon footprint by -6.7%, from 9.10 million tonnes to 8.49 million tonnes over the past 12 months – despite increasing its cocoa production output in the same period.

In the Ashanti region of Ghana Barry Callebaut, through its ownership of Nyonkopa, a licensed buying company authorized to buy cocoa directly from local farmers, has been working with the Cocoa Horizons Foundation to provide efficient cook stoves in households, that burn half as much wood, making it cleaner and safer for families – and also reducing CO2 emissions (see video).

Barry Callebaut has also been working with Cocoa Horizon farmers to increase the density of cocoa trees (under planting/replanting) and increasing the the number of non‐cocoa trees on farm to include fruit, fuel wood, shade, timber, and/or medicinal/herbal purposes.

BC GHana Wawase villagers
Wawase is a cocoa farming community in Ghana where farmers are beneficiaries of some Nyonkopa’s interventions. Pic: Nana Kofi Acquah © Barry Callebaut.

As well as more efficient stoves, Cocoa Horizons is installing solar home systems, that reduce kerosene burning for lighting and household water treatment systems, that avoid burning wood for water treatment.

Barry Callebaut says the group's global carbon reduction strategy was recognized by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and WWF - together forming the 'Science Based Targets' Initiative (SBTi), meaning that Barry Callebaut is contributing to the collective efforts to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius - the most ambitious designation currently available through the process.

To reduce its carbon footprint, Barry Callebaut is focusing on three areas:

  • the footprint created by its operations (scope 1)
  • the footprint generated by the energy the Group uses (scope 2)
  • the footprint of its entire supply chain (scope 3) which also includes the production and processing of all sourced raw materials and related land use changes (LUC).

"To become carbon positive, we are continuously pushing the boundaries on carbon accounting and measurement, carbon offsetting and insetting methodologies and activities. I am very proud of the recognition we received from SBTi, it shows we are on the right trajectory​,” said Pablo Perversi, chief innovation, sustainability and quality Officer and head of global gourmet, at Barry Callebaut.

Together with its partner, The Gold Standard Foundation, Barry Callebaut has developed a methodology to verify how much carbon emissions can be reduced and removed at farm level and in cocoa growing communities (scope 3).

Through carbon insetting projects, such as tree planting or the selling of cook stoves and solar home systems, Barry Callebaut was the first company to have scope 3 value chain interventions verified – resulting in a sequestration of 90,000 tonnes of CO2e from these activities.

We work with Gold standard to create a verification of the amount of carbon and whether it has been mitigated or sequestered at farm level​,” Nicko Debenham, the company’s head of sustainability told ConfectioneryNews.

We are measuring them ourselves, including land usage on our carbon footrprint. Nobody has ever done it before in cocoa, they don’t know how to measure it, we work with Quantis to create how you measure land usage in cocoa supply chain. But we know are creating a better environment for farmers in terms of carbon footprint​,” he said.

The key driver of Barry Callebaut’s carbon reduction was a more accurate calculation of the carbon liability from land cleared for cocoa agriculture (-27 %). In addition, the group claims it reduced the carbon intensity of its factories by -6.7%, due to an increased use of renewable energy.

Dairy also plays a major role in the chocolate maker’s carbon footprint, and the group has adoptd a strategy to purchase products from countries with lower carbon intensity and encourages dairy suppliers to measure and reduce the carbon emissions of their farms and processing facilities, which led to a reduction of -5.7 %.

Debenham told ConfectioneryNews that Barry Callebaut is currently testing the viability of biochar, which consists of the residue of cocoa bean shells which were used to generate energy in the factories and can further be used as a fertilizer in its Farm Services Business, to improve soil quality and reduce the carbon impact of cocoa production. Alternatively, biochar can also be used by dairy suppliers for cow feed production to reduce methane production.

Speaking about the group's succesful carbon impact initiative, Debenham said: "We have driven a huge learning agenda in the last couple of years around the concept of learning to get it right before scaling up, working with Wageningen University & Research, who are demanding scientifically relevant statistics and data from us​."

More articles in this series:

Forever Ghana: how Barry Callebaut’s sustainability program is impacting on the lives of the country’s cocoa farmers

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