Initiative of the BDSI for Sustainability in the Cocoa Sector

I. Preamble

Cocoa is a key raw material for the German confectionery industry, particularly in the manufacture of chocolate, but also for other products in this sector. Germany alone processes 10% of the world’s cocoa. The German confectionery industry feels a sense of responsibility for the entire cocoa value chain. The main focus is on the well-being of all growers, the cocoa farmers in Africa, South Asia, and South and Central America. The Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) has hence set itself the target of improving conditions for cocoa growers in the pro-ducing countries by promoting sustainable cocoa production in close cooperation with local societal forces. Our commitment can only be successful if all stakeholders in the cocoa value chain are involved in this initiative and lend it their support and active cooperation. This particularly includes the governments in the producing countries, the German federal government in cooperation with the governments of the other EU member states, the cocoa traders, the standards and certification organisations, the food retailers, non-government organisations, and consumers.

The Situation in the Cocoa Producing Countries

The prerequisites and conditions in the cocoa growing sector are unique and cannot be compared with those of other vegetable raw materials from third countries.
Cocoa is usually cultivated by small-scale farmers in addition to other commercially useful plants on areas of land sized 5 to 17 acres, yet it is frequently the main source of income. The majority of cocoa growers have families of 5 to 8 to feed. It is usual and socially acceptable for the children of such small-scale farmers to help with the work. This helps sustain the family’s livelihood in difficult financial situa-tions. Abusive forms of child labour still occur, however, where poverty is a con-tributing factor. What is missing is access to basic education and knowledge about the efficient use of the resources or the handling of fertilisers and pesticides, frequently accompanied by a lack of the basic knowledge about cocoa growing required for efficient cocoa production. Many farmers and their families hence live close to the subsistence level. The cocoa growing regions are mostly remote and poorly developed or not developed at all. Schools are not available everywhere or, despite compulsory school attendance, they are not attended by cocoa farmers’ children since there is either not enough money to pay for learning aids or the children’s work on the farm is indispensable. The cocoa value chains often have multiple levels and are partially non-transparent since many middlemen are involved in the cocoa trade. By the time the cocoa reaches the German factories, it has usually passed through many levels of trade.

Sustainable Cultivation to improve the Living Conditions of the Cocoa Farmers and their Families

The promotion of sustainable production methods is an expression of the social responsibility felt by the German confectionery industry and secures the supply of high-quality cocoa over the long term. The introduction of sustainable production methods simultaneously provides considerable leverage to improvements in the living conditions of farmers and their families. To achieve this, a comprehensive education offering for cocoa farmers and access to small-scale loans to fund investments is crucial to increasing productivity, quality, and efficiency. This will increase incomes and provide cocoa farmers and their families with a long-term perspective. The prerequisite for this is that sufficient instructors are locally available to provide the cocoa farmers with the required basic agri-technological and best practice knowledge of cocoa cultivation so as to significantly increase capacities. Women and young people have also received too little support so far in the cocoa producing sector.

The Term "Sustainability”

The German cocoa-processing companies have an ecological, social, and economic understanding of the term “sustainability” which set out in detail and with worlwide validity in Standard ISO 34101 “Sustainable and Traceable Cocoa”. ISO 34101 was published on 7 May 2019. It marks the first time that an ISO sustainability standard for a food raw material has ever been created with the cooperation of as many stakeholder groups as possible. The BDSI co-negotiated the standard’s wording with its experts both on the German committee of the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) as well as in the international working groups. Cocoa farmer representatives from the key cocoa producing countries and their governments also collaborated. The standard has also gained acceptance in the reform of already existing sustainability standards, for example those of Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance.
In this respect, the activities of German confectionery manufacturing companies are in line with the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These were adopted by the United Nations within the scope of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Hitherto Adopted Measures

Whereas the first decades of this century were characterised by many well-intended programs and projects promoting sustainable cocoa cultivation, these were initiated and continued separately and independently of each other. Over the last few years, however, it has become clear that these initiatives can have an even greater impact if they are comprehensively coordinated within the value chain and include a higher level of local networking, especially if they are planned and im-plemented together with the resident population and are in line with efforts under-taken by local governments. In the meantime, actors such as the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) are working jointly on bringing a higher level of sustainability to the cocoa sector. The WCF has initiated the CocoaAction strategy which, in and of itself, aims to reach 300,000 cocoa farmers and their families via WCF member programmes and projects by 2020. Within the scope of the PRO-PLANTEURS project, the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) also coordinates its activities both with the national Côte d’Ivoire 2QC strategy and with the CocoaAction strategy.

The Challenge of Achieving Comprehensive Cocoa Growing Sustainability

Only a few years ago, verified sustainable cocoa was only available in short supply on the world market since it predominantly came from already existing projects coordinated with cooperatives close to the market. Given the great number of cocoa farmers expected to participate, the changeover to sustainable cultivation represents a gargantuan task. It requires a huge transfer of know-how and a willingness to implement it on the part of the farmers themselves, as well as plan-ning skills. In this context, it is essential that women and young people also receive support. Without the support of local governments, sustainable farming can scarcely be comprehensively achieved. The concept of sustainability must also be implemented on the other levels of the value chain in the producing countries. The establishment and expansion of social and transport infrastructures must be driven forward and legislative and administrative bodies must provide even better frame-work conditions for cocoa production. The changeover to sustainable cultivation is a process that was begun a few years ago and can only succeed step-by-step, taking many years to complete.

Bonn, 17 May 2019

II. Declaration by the Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI) on Sustainability in the Cocoa Sector

The German confectionery industry takes its responsibility seriously and seeks to achieve 100% sustainably produced cocoa over the long term1. This declaration by the BDSI is supported by the desire to sustainably improve the economic and social conditions among cocoa farmers and achieve an eco-friendly cocoa cultivation. The goal is to improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families. The pre-requisite for this is that the cocoa farmers earn an appropriate income on the market through their produce, enabling them to pay for education and basic medi-cal care and secure the well-being of their families. A sustainable economic frame-work also requires good cultivation practice and a responsible handling of natural resources, and especially work practices which neither exploit children nor adults. All children in the cocoa producing countries are to have access to schools and education. Abusive forms of child labour are to be a thing of the past. The German confectionery industry distances itself from any form of abusive labour practices and cooperates actively as much as it can to ensure that the ILO conventions2 138 (on the minimum age) and 182 (on the worst forms of child labour) are complied with. Its activities are also geared to securing a high-quality supply of sustainably produced cocoa over the long term.
The BDSI recommends that its members significantly increase the share of sustainably produced cocoa in confectionery sold in Germany over the next few years in order to achieve a 75% share in the sector as a whole by 2025. This goal is supported by the best intentions of the German confectionery makers and yet can only be achieved through the cooperation of all stakeholders throughout the value chain, not by the manufacturers alone. This makes it necessary for all stakeholders to get actively involved on all levels and take their respective responsibilities seriously. The BDSI regularly monitors and documents the progress made by its members.

To achieve these goals while taking into consideration the special circumstances in the cocoa sector requires the concerted action of all stakeholders:

  • governments of the producing countries (supportive framework conditions, social and transportation infrastructure measures, cooperation and support in standardising the definition of sustainability and in networking, selecting, and structuring sustainable cocoa projects)
  • German federal government (consistent political support of the initiative, im-proved development cooperation, EU coordination, bilateral dialogue with the governments of the producing countries)
  • cocoa trade sector (transparent and traceable value chain, participation in pro-jects and measures promoting sustainable cultivation)
  • standard-setting certification organisations (participation projects beyond the already sponsored cooperatives, cooperation in standardising the definition of sustainability on a pre-competitive level)
  • industrial sector (increased use of sustainable cocoa, participation in sustaina-bility projects, standardisation of the definition of sustainability)
  • food retail sector (participation in sustainability projects, use of the standardised definition of sustainability, promoting acceptance by consumers)
  • consumers (readiness to correspondingly recognise the value chain’s commit-ment to sustainability)
  • NGOs (participation in sustainability projects, cooperation in standardising the definition of sustainability)

To ensure the success of these concerted efforts, the BDSI launched the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) in 2012 in cooperation with the federal German government (the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture [BMEL] and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development [BMZ]), the German retail trade (the Federal Association of the German Retail Grocery Trade [BVLH]) and Germany’s civil society (including unions such as the NGO Südwind [Institute for Economy and Ecumenism]).
The German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa (GISCO) represents a united stand of all civil society and industrial stakeholders together with the policy-makers. The goal is to establish a cooperation on this between all those involved in producing and marketing raw cocoa – from the plantations in the producer countries all the way to chocolate products sold in shops – which, supported by the German government and the governments of the producing countries, will pull together to improve the standards of living for cocoa farmers and their families. The progress towards the common goal achieved by all involved stakeholders is regularly discussed and documented within the scope of the Cocoa Initiative.

Improvement in the conditions existing in the producing countries as possible and practicable. Hence the BDSI also calls upon all other stakeholders in the cocoa value chain, whether they be governments, public authorities, cocoa farmers, cocoa traders, food retailers, standards and certification organisations, or NGOs, to take their respective responsibilities seriously and actively contribute to the pro-motion of sustainable cocoa cultivation to make achievement of the goals set by this initiative a reality.

Resolution by the Executive Board of the BDSI of 8 December 2011 confirmed in the final draft of 1 March 2012

Confectionery in the context of this declaration includes the following prod-ucts, in as far as cocoa is used in their manufacture:

  • chocolate, chocolate products, and cocoa
  • fine bakery wares
  • boiled sweets and sugar confectionery
  • brand ice cream
  • snacks
  • chewing gum
  • raw pastes