Mondelēz accelerates $1bn project to secure future of cocoa supply chains

27 October 2022

Mondelēz International, owner of Cadbury’s and Toblerone, is to invest a further $600m in its Cocoa Life sustainability initiative over the next eight years.

The extra funding will bring the total amount Mondelēz has spent on the initiative to more than $1bn. It hopes the programme will encompass 300,000 farmers by 2030.

Cocoa Life was launched in 2012 to secure the supply of more sustainable cocoa and to tackle the root causes of issues such as productivity, farmer livelihoods and community development in cocoa farming, as well as help combat child labour and deforestation.

So far 200,000 farmers have taken part in the programme and, according to the company, net incomes for farmers have increased by around 15% in Ghana and 33% in Cote d’Ivoire.

It also said cocoa yields have become higher, with double-digit percentage rises in farmers earning a living income.

It was not clear from Mondelēz’s statement if these figures refer to all cocoa farms and farmers in these countries, or only those taking part in the programme.

The firm said 61% of cocoa-growing communities in West Africa participating in the initiative were now covered with child labour monitoring and remediation systems. The company’s aim is for these systems to cover 100% of communities participating in Cocoa Life by 2025, it added.

Mondelēz said in a statement: “Key lessons from the past 10 years will allow Mondelēz International to accelerate the Cocoa Life programme and go further, faster, as more work remains to be done.

“These learnings include applying an integrated approach to help deliver impact at scale suited to the farmer, community and landscape; focusing on enabling farmers to increase their income; and accelerating innovation in cocoa production supported by incentives designed to professionalise smallholder cocoa farming and introduce climate-resilient, new producing models.”

The goals of the Cocoa Life project over the next eight years are to increase the number of farming households reaching a living income, enhance child protection systems and improve access to quality education in Cocoa Life communities.

Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO at Mondelēz International, said: “While we are excited about the promise of our investments, we are calling for more sector-wide effort and actions to drive greater impact, including new private-public partnerships, as we aim to catalyse ground-breaking collaboration to help move cocoa forward together.”

In April, SM reported that Mondelēz International was accused of using child labour in its supply chains, with children as young as 10 found handling machetes on Cocoa Life-certified farms. 

An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches showed children in Ghana who had suffered injuries as a result of handling machetes.

Mondelēz denied the allegations, a spokesperson said at the time: “We are deeply concerned by the incidents documented in the Dispatches programme.

“We explicitly prohibit child labour in our operations and have been working relentlessly to take a stand against this, making significant efforts through our Cocoa Life programme to improve the protection of children in the communities where we source cocoa, including in Ghana.”

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