Ferrero launches new Cocoa Charter to tackle deforestation and child labour

Cocoa farmers break cocoa pods in a plantation near Guiglo, western Ivory Coast, on October 10, 2020. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Ferrero has launched a new Cocoa Charter and Action Plan which reinforces its commitment to sustainable livelihoods, human rights and environmental protection across cocoa value chain.

The Charter and Action Plan reaffirm Ferrero’s support for income generation for farmers, protecting children, and promoting sustainable agroforestry.

Chocolate makers are coming under mounting pressure from investors, consumers and governments to make sure the cocoa beans they source were not produced using child labour or in illegal cocoa plantations in protected forests, both of which are common in West Africa.

Last week Nestle said it will start paying cocoa farmers cash if they send their children to school rather than out to tend crops as part of a push to purchase all of its cocoa through a fully traceable, directly sourced supply chain by 2025.

Ferrero said it recognises that the cocoa supply chain’s issues are complex and must be addressed through partnership with farmers, industry, communities, NGOs and governments.

“Through our distinct sourcing approach, we know the farmers and communities we source from, and this enables us to support them in a targeted way. We are now strengthening our activities to bring about lasting change for the sector,” Marco Gonçalves, chief procurement & hazelnut company officer at Ferrero, said.

The ambitions outlined in the charter include targetted support to farmers to improve productivity and diversify income; protecting the rights of children in cocoa growing communities; supporting farmers to convert to agroforesty systems; and supply-chain traceability, risk assessments and progress disclosure

The Action Plan outlines how the company will work towards these ambitions, and the company said it will publish a report each year on the progress made against the Action Plan. The first progress report is expected to be published in the second quarter of 2022.

Ferrero began its efforts towards responsibly sourced cocoa in 2005, by joining the World Cocoa Foundation and subsequently the International Cocoa Initiative. Today, Ferrero’s cocoa is 100% sustainably sourced via independently managed standards such as Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade and others. Besides, its cocoa supply chain is 96% traceable to farm level as the company is sourcing cocoa almost entirely from known farmer groups.