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CococoBernard Callebaut






Cococo is pleased to join 33 leading cocoa and chocolate

companies as well as the governments of Ghana and

Côte d'Ivoire in implementing the Cocoa & Forests Initiative

 to end deforestation in West Africa. 


To read our Action Plan, please click here.







Welcome to Cococo's summarized FAQ page

regarding sustainability. 


 For even more detailed information on cocoa sustainability and certification, please click here



1. Chocolate Sustainability 


2. Buying Chocolate Nowadays


3. Chocolate and West Africa


4. Chocolate and Farming in West Africa


5. Chocolate and People in West Africa


6. The Problems of Cocoa Communities in West Africa


7. Improving Cocoa Farming in West Africa 


8. Committing to West Africa


9. Certified Cocoa and West Africa


10. Rainforest Alliance





Chocolate Sustainability


Is chocolate sustainable today if nothing changes?




Chocolate depends upon West Africa. 


There are important problems in West Africa that can be solved, but to solve those problems many people must work together.




Buying Chocolate Nowadays


Can I feel good about buying chocolate?




Chocolate is a miracle food in many ways, but it's also tangled up with tough issues.


People who think about "doing the right thing" when they shop will probably want to know a few things about West Africa and cocoa certification.



Chocolate and West Africa


Where does chocolate come from?


Chocolate is made from cocoa.


Cocoa grows only near the equator, and almost 70% of the world's cocoa comes from just two countries, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.


When people talk about cocoa, these two countries of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana are called West Africa.



Chocolate and Farming in West Africa


How is cocoa grown?


Cocoa is farmed on plantations in rainforest areas threatened by climate change and deforestation.


Cocoa pods are harvested by hand from cocoa (or cacao) trees using machetes - it's very labour intensive.


Inside the harvested pods are cocoa beans from which chocolate can eventually be made.



Chocolate and People in West Africa


Who grows most of the world's cocoa?


Almost all cocoa today in grown on small family farms.


There are about 8 million people who grow cocoa in West Africa.


There are about 1.8 million different farming households.  The average age of a cocoa farmer is 56.



The Problems of Cocoa Communities in West Africa


What problems are faced by people who grow cocoa in West Africa?


Poverty and child labour.


                  "Child labour is correctly seen as both a symptom and a self-perpetuating

                   cause of the poverty that is faced by many cocoa farmers."


                   (The international Cocoa Initiative, Strategy 2015-2020)


Gender inequality.


Environmental degradation.


Improving Cocoa Farming in West Africa


What can be done to help cocoa families in West Africa?


Farming practices can be improved, communities can be developed, supply chains can be traced, gender equality can be promoted, and the natural environment can be stewarded.


Many players must continue acting together to solve complicated probelms: governments, agencies, cocoa and chocolate manufacturing companies, food processing companies, retailers, and even consumers.


Cocoa certification is today a best practice for driving change - it is a surefooted step along a path leading to a sustainable cocoa future.



Committing to West Africa


Why is West Africa the key?


Because conditions are right today to solve the problems of West Africa - many players are committed to action right now.


Because it's right and fair: businesses should hold themselves accountable, and West Africa's cocoa economy was built to supply the developed world.


Almost 70% of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, and that means there can be no global cocoa economy, and therefore no chocolate, as they are known today, without sustainable cocoa in West Africa.


Certified Cocoa and West Africa


How will certification promote a sustainable cocoa future for West Africa?


No logo alone can solve the challenge of cocoa sustainability in West Africa, but...


Certification is leading the way: certifying agencies have set standards, raised awareness, pressed for business accountability, focused attention upon supply chains, and delivered financial help to communities.


Certification today is a best practive because it drives demand and lets markets operate to force positive developments.


                 "While some companies claim that they cannot increase purchases of

                 certified cocoa due to a lack of supply, farmers indicate that production

                 of certified cocoa is far higher than demand.  Despite the limits of

                 [certification] standards to solve all sustainability problems in the cocoa

                 value chain the percentage of certified cocoa and the number of

                 farmers reached is a reference line for the progress made."


                 Fountain, A.C. and Hütz-Adams, F. (2015), Cocoa Barometer

                 2015-USA Edition, emphasis added, at page 27.



Rainforest Alliance


Why certify with Rainforest Alliance rather somebody else?


There are several certifying bodies - Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, and UTZ are the best known.


Certification standards vary between agencies but the effect of certification upon cocoa sustainability in West Africa is much the same among them - the agencies are allies in a common cause and critiquing differences makes little sense. 


Attractive features of Rainforest Alliance CertificationTM include: a focus upon environmental stewardship; standards that address labour conditions; market penetration in North America; certification standards that do not fix prices but that instead encourage markets to pay more for better quality products and processes; and, a good on-the-ground market share in West Africa.


                 0.1.       The Sustainable Agriculture Network


                 The Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is a coalition of independant

                 nonprofit conservation organizations that promote the social and

                 environmental sustainability of agricultural activities ...


                 0.2.       The Rainforest Alliance


                 The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization working

                 to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods.  Farms that

                 meet the SAN's comprehensive standards for sustainability, as well as

                 POs* that comply with SAN and Rainforest Alliance policies, are eligible

                 for a license to use the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal and/or make

                 Rainforest Alliance Certified claims for products grown on Rainforest

                 Alliance Certified Farms.


                 Sustainable Agriculture Network and Rainforest Alliance (2015), Chain

                 of Custody Standard.


                 (*A PO is any company, like Cococo, that applies for chain-of-custody