Along with pushing for greener packaging from its member companies, the NCA will continue its partnership with the World Cocoa Foundation to tackle deforestation in the cocoa supply chain, Downs told ConfectioneryNews.
He said he has a very good working relationship with WCF's new President Chris Vincent and the NCA is working very closely with the WCF to address the main chocolate and cocoa sustainability issues.
"The NCA remains is very engaged and we are sharing information from our Chocolate Council on what’s happening in Europe and the EU related to due diligence and also here in the US with discussions with the State Department related to deforestation and due diligence for American companies," said Downs.
“It’s a big agenda, and as we all know it’s complicated and there are lots of different moving parts to it because we have the origin countries, political regulators and decision-makers, the eco-system of NGOs, in Europe and the US, in terms of our outreach and engagement.
“We are putting a lot of work in against this for the companies. We all have a role to play and there is now real rigorous coordination between the companies, brands and also between the WCF and NCA.”
Downs said the US government may follow the European Union’s example and introduce legislation surrounding traceability and transparency, effectively blocking imports of commodities such as cocoa that cannot be proven to have originated from protected forest areas.
Regarding ESG principles and helping companies spread their achievements to the consumer, Downs said the NCA provides a forum for discussion and conversation among its members, manufacturers, suppliers and retail partners.
“We also share information on education and awareness, which leads to belief in authenticity and transparency, in terms of ESG,” he said.
“These are issues that matter to our consumers and retail partners, and I think our companies, especially the larger ones, have got a really good game plan and a set of metrics that are really important and we share this with our smaller and mid-size companies.
“We know from the research in State of Treating Report that especially for the Gen-Z consumers, it matters – they want products and brands that match with their values in relation to the planet and their communities.”
While SOTIC heard about the enjoyment that chocolate and candy bring to people’s lives, it is an undeniable fact cocoa farmers continue to struggle with poverty and low incomes in return for their beans.
Troy Pearley is a member of the NCA Board of Trustees and Executive Vice President and General Manager of Divine Chocolate, which is licensed by Fairtrade and co-owned by the farmers in the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana, which allows them to share in the profits of the company, boosting income levels.
In our exclusive podcast interview, Pearley talks about Divine Chocolate’s unique business model that gives farmers the opportunity to market their own cocoa, bringing greater financial independence while also recognising women’s rights in cooperative.
He also echoes Downs’s comments regarding the NCA’s commitment to sustainability and calls for all the stakeholders to collectively work together. “We are not sticking our heads in the sand on this,” he said.
The Fairtrade certification is one built on transparency and authenticity and he says he is pleased that awareness of Fairtrade America products from consumers has grown over the past two years, meaning that cocoa farmers receive more in premiums when consumers look for, and more importantly, buy chocolate with the Fairtrade logo.
- Check out our latest podcast, recorded live from SOTIC 2023 in Miami.