As governments across the globe reiterate the importance of keeping the food supply chains intact, Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, says it continuing its tradition of supporting cocoa farmers while complying with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, local regulations and government directives on COVID-19 coronavirus.
In a statement on its website the group said it had halted all activities in its supply chains that require:
- The unnecessary movement of Barry Callebaut’s Sourcing and Sustainability employees from cities to farms or villages
- Large gatherings of farmers or farmer communities
- Close interactions with farmers’ families, households or communities (e.g. census, data collection, trainings, etc.)
- Third-party labor (e.g. providing support for sustainability activities)
“By keeping our factories running, requiring inputs from our suppliers, including from cocoa farmers, and continuing to supply our customers we contribute to a functioning supply chain,” it said.
The move comes after The VOICE Network and its members said they were deeply concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on cocoa farming households, “a group already in a vulnerable position”.
While The VOICE Network said its immediate concern is for the health and wellbeing of members of cocoa farming households, it said it is equally concerned about the direct economic impact the global crisis will have on families, who live already well below a living income.
“During the 2016 price crash, the cocoa and chocolate industry made strong profits while farmers and producing governments lost billions of dollars. Cocoa and chocolate companies did virtually nothing then to support their farmers. This cannot happen again,” a spokespereson said.
It has released a Call to Action to the cocoa and chocolate industry to do everything within their means to help protect their cocoa farmers, along the same care responses it offers employees in consuming countries.
Barry Callebaut said in its cocoa origin countries, it is working to ensure its operations “do not put employees or cocoa farmers at risk and do not contribute to the inadvertent spread of the virus.
“With our long-standing tradition of supporting cocoa farmers production in cocoa origin producing countries, we continue to purchase and deliver cocoa, process cocoa in origin, and ensure, as much as possible, the economic viability of the cocoa supply chain. It is critical that we support the livelihoods and income of cocoa farmers whilst protecting their health and their family’s health.”
Hygiene and social distancing
The group employs a number of coaches in farming who are updating farmers on hygiene and social distancing.
“In order to support cocoa farmers and their communities, we have identified activities which continue to be implemented at the date of this publication through locally-based coaches who live in farming communities.
“These coaches have been trained, and will continue to be updated with the latest guidelines, on COVID-19, via phone, and will support farmers while respecting governmental and Barry Callebaut guidelines.
“We will continue to explore opportunities to support our farming communities during these rapidly evolving times," a spokesperson said.