How one of the largest cocoa firms traces 12% of global supply

29 September 2020

The Olam Group has achieved 100% traceability of its direct cocoa supply chain, encompassing nine countries and 12% of the world’s supply.

Olam, one of the world’s largest suppliers of cocoa, has used heightened visibility across its supply chain to mitigate child labour and deforestation risks through more effective monitoring.

The company, which uses digital sustainability platform AtSource and its Olam and Farmer Information System, has overcome challenges including a lack of infrastructure and internet connectivity.

The system traces direct cocoa supplies from 325,000 farmers across South America, West Africa and Asia, through to purchasing stations, processing facilities, ports and transportation, all the way to factories and food manufacturers.

The Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) app is being implemented across all sustainability programmes in all nine sourcing origins, after it was successfully introduced at scale to 7,000 smallholder cocoa suppliers in Cameroon. 

Olam partnered with the Fair Labour Association to assess how to develop CLMRS, which allows them to “more effectively tailor community interventions based on needs and risk, as well as better measure the impact of remediation activities”.

Kennedy Ntoso, head of cocoa sustainability in Ghana at Olam Cocoa, said: “Olam Cocoa’s first AtSource Infinity project uses long-term, community-based solutions to tackle deforestation.”

The traceability system has helped map over 254,000 deforestation risk hotspots across the entire supplier network through the Forest Loss Risk Index, and allocate risk ratings and recommended actions to individual suppliers.

Other initiatives have resulted in over 139,000 farmers accessing training on agroforestry practices, leading to diversified and increased production.

The platform also gives consumers access to information on the impact of individual cocoa powders, liquors and butters, including carbon footprinting and community initiatives, from specific countries, such as Ghana, Ecuador and Côte d’Ivoire. 

The work follows the announcement of global sustainability commitments in 2019.

Olam Cocoa procures over 1m megatonnes of cocoa beans each year from farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Ecuador.

Its customers include General Mills, Lindt, Mars Inc, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Starbucks, and The Hershey Company.

Andrew Brooks, global head of sustainability at Olam Cocoa, said: “We’ve been working for nearly two decades to bring farmers and our customers closer together in the cocoa supply chain.

“Reaching our traceability goal is a breakthrough moment, and one that has only been possible due to the expertise of our teams on the ground and a sustained investment in digital innovation. The door is now open to making our vision of a professionalised, sustainable cocoa supply chain a reality.”

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