Fairtrade’s Cocoa Standard raises the bar on global sustainable supply chains

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

 Fairtrade's Cocoa Standard update also calls for additional equal opportunity requirements for women, including equal access to training. Pic: Fairtrade Africa
Fairtrade's Cocoa Standard update also calls for additional equal opportunity requirements for women, including equal access to training. Pic: Fairtrade Africa

Related tags Fairtrade cocoa Fairtrade Sustainability Cocoa

Fairtrade has announced an update to its Cocoa Standard with a reinforced focus on human rights, the fight against deforestation, traceability, and living incomes across the sector.

The social justice organisation said the update, which was approved by the Fairtrade Standards Committee and is the result of a rigorous consultation process, combines specific sustainability priorities with progress on living incomes and support for producers.

In addition, it aims to strike a balance between robust mandates, regional priorities, and shared responsibility of compliance between farmers and involved commercial operators.

This latest update to our Cocoa Standard reflects Fairtrade’s continuing commitment to progress and its dedication to the shared goals of producers, businesses, and consumers in preventing child labour and fighting deforestation​,” said Sam Dormer, Fairtrade Foundation’s Global Product Manager for Cocoa. “At the same time, the updated Standard strengthens Fairtrade’s mission to promote farmers’ right to decent livelihoods and enable their potential as leaders of a fairer, more sustainable future for all​.”

Fairtrade Standards are reviewed and regularly updated and include input from farmers and farm workers, as well as other key stakeholders.

The latest registered changes to Fairtrade’s Cocoa Standard, which will take effect in phases over the next two years, raising the bar for the product’s Standard with additional requirements on deforestation; Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD); and traceability and transparency.

Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD)

The update also spreads responsibility of compliance between producer organizations and commercial actors, with the latter called on to support producer organizations in prevention of child labour and deforestation where requirements have been strengthened.

Many of the current changes are focused on cocoa from Africa, Asia, and, in some cases, specifically Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and seek to support producers in tackling the known risks in these areas, such as deforestation and child labour, as well as prepare for other expected requirements, including the African Regional Standard for cocoa, and European Union legislation.

Fairtrade said that on deforestation, for example, in addition to prevention and mitigation plan requirements, the adjusted Standard now requires farm geolocation mapping and for prevention and mitigation data to be collected by producer organizations for their own use, and reported to Fairtrade. Moreover, producer organisations are required to prepare measures that include awareness campaigns for their members and apply production practices that have a positive environmental impact.

For its part, the new HREDD requirements position farmers as partners in the process of implementing human rights and environmental due diligence, drawing specific attention to the prevention of child labour in cocoa production. The human rights focus of the update also calls for additional equal opportunity requirements for women, including equal access to training.

Meanwhile, on traceability and transparency, the updated Standard will now require producers to implement product tracing solutions and clear documentation, enabling ‘first-mile’ traceability. This will allow them to map their members’ farms and trace what they buy from each farmer – an increasingly important capability for cocoa producers as they seek greater oversight of their businesses as well as the possibility of assuring buyers on how and where their cocoa is grown, particularly in relation to human rights issues.

During the consultation process many stakeholders made clear the need for further support for producer organizations on human rights issues​,” said Dormer.  “That is why Fairtrade is also announcing the creation of Fairtrade’s Programme for Child Labour and Forced Labour Prevention and Remediation. The programme will provide contributions to Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa producer organisations implementing quality prevention and remediation interventions that are now required in the Cocoa Standard​.”

She also added that the programme will be launched with €450,000 of Fairtrade funding and has the potential to grow through contributions by commercial operators and other stakeholders.  

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