Barry Callebaut sharpens its strategy and claims strong progress on cocoa sustainability with release of latest report

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Barry Callebaut introduces new farmer practices in West Africa to improve income. Pic: Barry Callebaut
Barry Callebaut introduces new farmer practices in West Africa to improve income. Pic: Barry Callebaut

Related tags Barry callebaut Cocoa Chocolate Sustainability

Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest supplier of cocoa and chocolate, says it ‘remains steadfast in its advocacy of policies to make sustainable chocolate the norm as it releases its seventh Forever Chocolate progress report (covering fiscal year 2022-23).

Ranked the food industry’s top ESG strategy by Sustainalytics for the past five years in a row, Forever Chocolate highlights achievements from the past year and provides more details into the Group’s evolving strategy.

The latest report will be digested with interest by the chocolate industry in general, as few can match Barry Callebaut’s scale and, therefore, influence and responsibility when it comes to sustainability in the cocoa sector.

One of the main takeaways from the report is Barry Callebaut’s commitment to “intensify efforts by collaborating with customers, industry partners, and wider society, to drive real change on the ground​”.

Forever Chocolate 2022-23 Highlights

  • Barry Callebaut added almost 120,000 new cocoa farmers to its sustainability programmes, expanding its reach on the ground by 35%.
  • Prospering Farmers: Its Farm Services business continued to support almost 170,000 farmers, notably more than doubling the size of programmes to support cocoa farmers with paid labour teams, reaching almost 20,000 ha.
  • Human Rights: Strong focus on strengthening community systems and child labour monitoring & remediation systems covering close to 80% of farmer groups in its direct supply chain.
  • Thriving Nature: Extended the Group’s intensified agroforestry approach including payment for ecosystem services newly establishing over 18,000 ha.
  • Sustainable Ingredients: More than half of products sold contain 100% sustainable cocoa or chocolate.

Peter Feld, Barry Callebaut’s new CEO, says: “I am delighted to share our latest Forever Chocolate Progress Report, marking the seventh edition of our approach and progress to make sustainable chocolate the norm.

This past year has been a time of reflection and in-depth analysis. It has given us a new outlook on advancing best-in-class sustainability, positioning us at the forefront of innovation and inspiring modern cocoa farming practices. We're not just envisioning the future; we're sculpting it. Our commitment propels us to lead the charge in igniting industry-shaping change toward an unprecedented era for a sustainable cocoa supply chain.

“I want to express my gratitude to our employees. Their expertise, dedication and skills is the ingredient for our continued success as the world’s best chocolate solutions company. I also want to extend our appreciation to our partners, suppliers, and customers for embracing our sustainability journey.

“Each and every achievement we have accomplished is a testament to their unwavering dedication and passion. I warmly invite other stakeholders to join the Forever Chocolate movement. Together we can make sustainable chocolate the norm.”

In May this year, Barry Callebaut presented a set of sharpened targets for Forever Chocolate and also fundamentally rethought its approach in order to achieve the biggest impact.

Thought leadership

The Group now says: “Our approach combines ambitious targets, thought leadership, customer solutions, and operational excellence​.”

Regarding thought leadership, Barry Callebaut says it has shown leadership by example by providing valuable insights with the release of its White Paper that underpins its vision for a transformative approach to improve the existing cocoa farming model in Cote d'Ivoire and, more broadly, across West Africa.

For its customers, it has developed key flagship programmes that provide innovative solutions tailored to their needs.

As the largest supplier of sustainable cocoa products and chocolate, Barry Callebaut claims to have shown operational excellence driven by over 1,600 colleagues in cocoa-origin countries, who form the backbone of its organization, contributing their expertise, skills, and unique perspectives.

We strive to excel in every aspect of our operations across the entire supply chain and have the ability to scale up on key activities with precision​,” it says.

Farmer income

One of the main shifts in focus outlined in the report is regarding farmer income. Many cocoa farmers struggle to make a living income, particularly in West Africa, where their main challenge is access to investments in their farms.

Barry Callebaut’s sustainability team says it has shifted focus from training to providing input support. “Our support ranges from subsidised soil inputs and planting material to financial support for third-party labour services and additional premiums. Improving quality yield per hectare remains key to lift smallholder cocoa farmers out of poverty and put them on a trajectory towards a living income​.”

The Group’s aim is to transform the way cocoa is produced by enhancing the existing farming model in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa, and beyond.

We firmly believe that focusing on increasing production volumes from a smaller group of farmers, who can then achieve a living income through a combination of better yield, larger farms, and higher farm gate prices, is the key​,” it says.

Human rights

On human rights, the Group's latest Forever Chocolate Report claims to have now conducted in-depth, independent Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) for all its main cocoa sourcing countries and regions.

It also reiterates its claim that by 2025, its entire supply chain will be covered by Human Rights Due Diligence, remediating all child labour cases identified, and that by 2030, the farming communities it sources from will be empowered to protect child rights.

  • Download the full Forever Chocolate 2022-23 Report here​.

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