Barry Callebaut implements new cocoa farming initiative to improve sustainability

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Barry Callebaut has launched Future Farming Initiative as part of its sustainability drive. Pic: Barry Callebaut
Barry Callebaut has launched Future Farming Initiative as part of its sustainability drive. Pic: Barry Callebaut

Related tags Barry callebaut Cocoa Sustainability

Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate supplier, has launched the Future Farming Initiative (FFI) to build a high-tech and sustainable cocoa farming business under the leadership of Steven Retzlaff.

Effective immediately, Retzlaff, currently President of Global Cocoa, will move to the newly created role of Executive Chairman of FFI, reporting to Peter Feld, CEO of Barry Callebaut.

The Group will establish the investment company FFI, which will initially be wholly owned by Barry Callebaut, and develop technology and R&D capabilities to be scaled.

Barry Callebaut said FFI intends to be a catalyst for others to invest in farming and create partnerships with farmers to modernize sustainable cocoa farming at scale.

Under Retzlaff’s leadership, Barry Callebaut has signed the first of what will become a series of agreements with a highly respected high-tech farming business in Bahia, Brazil, to develop 5,000 hectares of land initially.

Current cocoa farming model 

The joint ambition is to pilot and develop best practices to create a scalable and profitable high-tech model for sustainable cocoa farming. Barry Callebaut’s original 640-hectare Farm of the Future property in Cerecitas, Ecuador, will also be part of the FFI.

At the same time, the Group continues to help reform the current cocoa farming model in all its origin-sourcing countries while integrating FFI's learnings into its transformative approach.

Peter Feld said: "At Barry Callebaut, we take our responsibility for all stakeholders very seriously. Over more than ten years, the company has made many positive steps on its sustainability journey as manifested last year in our renewed Forever Chocolate programme that will continue to support the development of sustainable cocoa production in our origin sourcing countries.

“To fully unlock our know-how which we acquired over the past decade, we now aim to be a catalyst and create the future of sustainable, high-tech cocoa farming for the industry.

"Steven Retzlaff is the perfect person to take on this new challenge. He is well-recognised as an industry leader and expert. During the past 20 years, he has fundamentally transformed Barry Callebaut’s Global Cocoa business into the success story we know today. He was instrumental in defining the long-term vision of cocoa sustainability for smallholder farming. Hence, we are very excited that Steven takes on this new challenge to transform how cocoa is farmed in the future."

Global cocoa

Alain Freymond will succeed Retzlaff effective immediately as President of Global Cocoa, reporting to Peter Feld.

Retzlaff said, "I am very excited about taking on this new challenge. I am convinced that with FFI, we will not only bring cocoa farming to industrial levels but also help make sustainable cocoa the norm.

“We will be able to transfer what we have learned and expertise from FFI to our partners in all our origin-sourcing countries to continue to help them on their journey to more productive and sustainable cocoa farming. Something which has been very close to my heart for the past decades and will remain so in the future."

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