Every year, tens of thousands of tonnes of cocoa are delivered to our factories in York and Fawdon and find their way into some of the UK’s favourite products like KitKat, Aero or Yorkie. This is a huge amount of cocoa, but how do we make sure that we source today’s cocoa in a way that ensures we have enough cocoa in the future? How do we support those farmers that grow cocoa? We were proud to be the first confectionery company in the UK and I to use 100% certified sustainable cocoa across all our chocolate products. But certification is only one element of the Nestlé’s Cocoa Plan …
We cannot take the future of the cocoa industry for granted. Our ever-increasing appetite for chocolate means higher demand for cocoa which, in theory, should be good news for cocoa farmers.
Cocoa farmers, however are struggling to keep up with demand, their cocoa yields are low, and diseased trees are affecting cocoa quality. Therefore, we are acting now to make sure that cocoa farming is sustainable, that there is enough cocoa for the future and that our farmers are improving their livelihoods and that of their families.
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan
In 2009 we launched the Nestlé Cocoa Plan recognising the challenges faced by cocoa farmers. The plan is designed to improve the profitability and sustainability of cocoa farms by helping farmers make better use of their land and improve social conditions for the farmers and their families. We are investing CHF110 million in the programme globally over ten years.
Through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan we support farmers in three ways:
1. Better farming
Better Trees + Better Farming = Better Farmer Income
Replacing the ageing unproductive crops with new cocoa plants and adopting sustainable farming practices are key to improving the profitability and sustainability of cocoa farms.
As part of the Cocoa Plan, we pledged to supply farmers with 12 million higher yielding, disease-resistant cocoa trees to replace their ageing unproductive trees by 2019. In 2016 alone, we distributed 2.16 million higher yielding cocoa, building on the 1.65m plantlets distributed in 2015 and 1.6m in 2014.
By training and supporting cocoa farmers to adopt good agricultural practices we are helping them to improve productivity and, in turn, improving their income. In 2016, we trained 57,000 farmers in field schools, enabling them to adopt sustainable farming practices, improve yields and quality of cocoa and increase income derived from cocoa farming.
2. Better lives
We all know that a child’s place is in the classroom, learning. We are working with NGOs and the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to stamp out forced labour practices and help children in cocoa growing communities to attend school.
Through our partnership with the World Cocoa Foundation we have been building and refurbishing schools to improve educational opportunities in rural communities. To date, 42 schools have been opened with the support of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. From 2016 we are focusing further school building on areas with the highest need and incidence of child labour.
In 2016, we completed the roll-out of the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System to all Nestlé Cocoa Plan co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire, and expanded into Ghana, now covering 37,130 farmers.
According to the 'A Matter of Taste' report published in June 2017 by STOP THE TRAFFIK, Nestlé’s 'Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System' (CLMRS) was considered the most comprehensive yet to help children working in cocoa production.
The report examines Nestlé’s efforts and assesses the progress made by other chocolate companies and certification organisations in combatting child labour in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. It recognises the long term societal challenges associated with bringing child labour to an end.
Cocoa farming is seen as a man's job in many parts of the world and women are not always given the chance to be leaders in their industry. That’s why through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan we supported 1073 women to develop income-generating activities in Côte d’Ivoire, while the percentage of women in leadership positions in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Ecuador and Indonesia increased to 8.9%.
3. Better cocoa
We know that better quality beans mean great tasting chocolate and more profit for farmers. Which is why we are working with farmers to improve every step in cocoa farming, from bean extraction to sustainable certification.
Through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan we pledged to source 150 000 tonnes of sustainably produced cocoa by 2017. In 2016, we increased the volume of cocoa sourced through the Cocoa Plan by 140 933 tonnes of cocoa, exceeding our target of 130 000 tonnes.
100% certified sustainable cocoa
In the UK & Ireland, our focus has been on certifying the sustainable sourcing of cocoa. To support the Plan, we were the first major confectionery company in the UK and Ireland to buy 100% of our cocoa from certified sustainable sources.
Working with two partners, UTZ Certified and the Fairtrade Foundation for independent certification, allowed us to achieve our objective of using only cocoa from certified sustainable sources by the end of 2015. This means that our cocoa is sourced and produced sustainably on farms with safe working conditions.
Long term commitment
Making sure there is enough cocoa in the future isn’t simply about helping farmers grow more cocoa in the short term. It’s about addressing the complex challenges they face and building up local capacity in the cocoa supply chain. This takes time and, therefore, the Nestlé Cocoa Plan is a long-term commitment.
Globally, Nestlé has committed to investing CHF110 million in the programme over ten years. We have also pledged to source 230,000 tonnes of sustainably produced cocoa through the Plan by 2020 and distribute 12 million higher yielding, disease-resistant cocoa trees.
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan currently covers more than 30% of our global cocoa usage. As we continue to invest in and expand the programme, this figure is set to increase each year, to provide a better future for our farmers and to help secure the future supply of cocoa for your favourite chocolate brands.