The world’s largest chocolate company Mondelēz International has increased its cocoa sustainability efforts by partnering with FLOCERT, a third-party Fairtrade certifier. Already the largest purchaser of Fairtrade-certified cocoa, Mondelēz International, which produces major brands such as Cadbury, Milka, Toblerone, OREO, and Chips Ahoy!, wants to see all of its cocoa sustainably sourced.
Under a three-year contract, FLOCERT will customize its Fairtrade monitoring and reporting system (an information system called FLOTIS) to track and verify Mondelēz’s complex and extensive cocoa supply chain. FLOTIS is used to monitor the transparency of transactions and verify that premium payments are made to Fairtrade-certified farmer organizations.
This is the latest step in Mondelēz’s cocoa sustainability program, Cocoa Life, which was launched in 2012. (This was also the year that Mondelēz was formed, when Kraft Foods split into two companies—Kraft Foods Group as a grocery company and Mondelēz as a snack food company). Based in Deerfield, Illinois, with a revenue of nearly US$26 billion in 2016, Mondelēz is taking unprecedented global action to ensure the security of its cocoa supply, while also working to increase farmer incomes, improve gender equality, and reduce the incidence of child labor in cocoa farming communities.
Mondelēz has committed to investing US$400 million over 10 years through its Cocoa Life program to improve the livelihoods of at least 200,000 cocoa farmers and 1 million residents of cocoa farming communities. This includes a US$100 million investment in Côte d’Ivoire (the largest cocoa producer in the world), investments in Ghana and Indonesia (the second and third largest producers, respectively), and in India, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil.
Cocoa Life grew out of the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, which had increased cocoa yields by 20 percent and doubled household incomes in target cocoa communities in Ghana. In addition to the traditional components of agricultural development, such as providing farmers with hardy cacao tree seedlings and technical assistance through field demonstrations and extension services teaching good agricultural practices (GAP), Cocoa Life is providing business and leadership training to women farmers and campaigning against child labor on cocoa farms.
According to Bharat Puri, Senior Vice President of Mondelēz’s Global Chocolate category, “We’re investing in much more than farming—it’s about empowering cocoa communities as a whole, so cocoa farming villages become places where people want to live.”
Cacao trees grow best within a narrow latitude band of 15 degrees above or below the equator. These tropical areas have been facing declining soil nutrition, aging cacao trees, and devastating crop diseases such as Black Pod and Vascular Streak Dieback disease, all of which reduce yields and make farming a less attractive career option for the next generation. At the same time, demand for chocolate continues to grow.
The Cocoa Life program has been designed to blend aspects of sustainable human development with agricultural development. Additionally, the program has collaborated with expert organizations, especially NGOs, and makes use of impact assessment. In designing, monitoring, and evaluating its program, Cocoa Life has collaborated with Anti-Slavery International, the World Wildlife Fund, the Gates Foundation, the U.N. Development Program, and several host governments.
Cocoa Life has also engaged Harvard University to undertake annual impact assessments based on 10 key performance indicators (KPIs). Michael Hiscox, Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University and lead researcher, explains, “Programs like Cocoa Life need to demonstrate how they deliver value to farming communities through a holistic approach focused on impacts, rather than compliance with specific farming practices.”