Released in 2020, the latest Cocoa Barometer also includes new visual material outlining the key challenges and possible solutions for the cocoa sector.
The review has been critical in the past regarding certified cocoa from the chocolate companies' in-house schemes. “Most companies report significant progress in traceability of cocoa sourcing, though definitions of traceability differ. The race for certified volumes has not led to the bar being raised, and with a wider range of interventions at the sector’s disposal, the relevance of certification standards has been declining.
“Cocoa cannot claim to be sustainable merely on the basis of certification, although its infrastructure provides a framework by which many other necessary interventions can be rolled out,” it said.
With renewed pressure on cocoa prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Antonie C Fountain from the Voice Network, publisher of the Cocoa Barometer, updated the situation for ConfectioneryNews.
“Obviously the current pressure on farmgate prices are extremely concerning to us. Every company needs to go beyond regular market dynamics and consider what their role can be to help farmers and cocoa growing communities,” he said.
“Farmgate prices aren't a maximum, they're a minimum, so companies are always able to go above that. If your sustainability reporting states that you care about tackling poverty, here's a perfect opportunity to literally put your money where your mouth is.”
Even before COVID-19, rampant farmer poverty, extensive deforestation, human and labour rights violations including child labour, an over-dependency on pesticides are the main challenges identified by Cocoa Barometer facing the cocoa sector where action by the industry is called on.
According to the publication, two decades of interventions and increasing dialogue have not tackled the challenges at the necessary scale, and have failed to solve the root problem of cocoa farmer poverty.
“Obviously, it's also up to governments to ensure there are policies to reduce oversupply, but if everybody keeps looking at the other to solve this problem, the problem is only going to get worse. And farming communities - already the most vulnerable in the supply chain - will always be the ones that suffer the most,” said Fountain.