The 2023 Chocolate Scorecard says the sustainability claims of chocolate companies cannot necessarily be trusted.
According to the report, only 11% of chocolate companies surveyed can fully trace where their cocoa comes from.
It further said, on average 40% of cocoa is purchased indirectly, meaning the buyer doesn’t know who they bought from or where it came from.
Without knowing where cocoa comes from you can’t possibly claim it is sustainable.
The fourth edition of the Chocolate Scorecard surveyed 83 of the world’s biggest chocolate companies to find out how they are addressing key challenges in the Cocoa-chocolate value chain!
Original Beans, Tony’s ChocoLonely and Beyond Good were ranked as the top three most sustainable chocolate companies out of the 83 chocolate brands, retailers and processors surveyed.
Companies were assessed on their performance in six sustainability categories namely Traceability Transparency, Child Labor, Living Income, Deforestation and Climate, Agroforestry, and Chemical Management.
The survey which was conducted by a global coalition of global NGOs found that some companies are “rising to the challenge, but others continue to ignore consumer demand for chocolate that’s free of child labour, poverty, and deforestation and chocolate that’s good for people and the planet.”
Launching the survey report or Chocolate Scorecard in Ghana, the Senior Advisor for Cocoa Campaign at Mighty Earth, Samuel Mawutor, challenged consumers to be interested in how the chocolate they patronise is produced, in terms of its impact on the planet.
“We eat chocolate for comfort, celebration, and indulgence. But what’s going into the chocolate we buy?” he quizzed.
“Sustainability claims made by companies are defined narrowly to refer only to their programs, which may foster sustainable practices but do not refer to the actual status of their cocoa or necessarily improve the actual living conditions of cocoa farmers,” he emphasised.
The report also revealed that farmers taking part in sustainability programmes are often not well compensated for their efforts and remain extremely poor.
The coalition insisted farmers need to be paid more for their cocoa to ensure a sustainable life, adding that
They added, “the account of poverty in cocoa-growing communities, especially in West Africa, has been articulated extensively. Its connection to child labour, forced labour and human trafficking as well as the deforestation of national forests is indisputable.”
A recent report by Oxfam claims that the “net income of farmers decreased by an estimated 16.38% between the 2019/20 and 2021/22 harvesting season.”
When the price of cocoa increases everything else a farmer purchases increase in price, leaving worse [them] off in reality.
However, this doesn’t affect chocolate companies in the same way but rather led to increases in their profits. The global chocolate market was valued at a revenue of USD 131.9 million in 2021. It is projected to grow at 4.50% annually.
The latest report on child labour indicates about 1.5 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and 95% of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labour.
The findings from the survey indicate that significant progress is being made by companies in their effort to address child labour but it also indicates that only 6% of children in the worst forms of child labour have been identified.
The authors of the Chocolate Scorecard said, out of the 53 companies that responded, 48 of them have a ‘no-deforestation’ policy in place, a policy that required suppliers to source cocoa from areas where there has been no destruction of the forest canopy.
Cocoa is said to be a major global driver of forest destruction. West Africa, (Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana) produces three-quarters of the world’s cocoa, but has lost about 94% and 80% respectively, of their forests to cocoa production in the last 60 years.
The NGO Coalition wants critical changes to happen in the cocoa value chain for the betterment of cocoa farmers’ livelihoods and a sustainable planet:
Consumers and investors need to know where their chocolate come from and what they invest in, making this scorecard an important tool to reform practices in the sector.
We also need companies and LBCs sourcing the cocoa in Ghana to pay greater attention to the problems outlined in these categories and advise corporate plans and strategies to combat deforestation.
As frontline agents in addressing deforestation and improving income, much more is expected of LBCs to escape poverty, reduce deforestation and end all forms of child labour.
The 2023 Chocolate Scorecard is led by three research institutions – Macquire University Sydney, The Open University, UK, and the University of Wollongong and coordinated by Be Slavery Free (Australia) and supported by a global coalition of NGOs including Green America, INKOTA, Mighty Earth, EcoCare Ghana, and the National Wildlife Federation.