Sweet and fair – sustainable cocoa production
Standardization supports sustainability initiative of processing countries
(2012-07-19) A new working committee within DIN's Food and Agricultural Products Standards Committee (NAL) coordinates the German input for the standard "Sustainable cocoa and its traceability" that is currently under development at European level and is intended to be adopted as an ISO Standard. The aim of the standards work is to produce a catalogue of standard requirements that is valid world-wide, defining the conditions for sustainable cocoa production, promoting sustainable cocoa growing, ensuring its long-term success, improving the position and productivity of the farmer and personnel, and, last but not least, preventing child labour abuse.
The standards project has generated much interest among the actors in the cocoa chain. Industry (in particular the confectionery industry), public authorities, consumer organizations, science and research, and certifiers are involved. At present there are a number of private certification schemes for sustainable cocoa, all of which use different social and ecological criteria. This reduces their acceptance by the cocoa grower, with the result that only a small percentage of cocoa currently meets the requirements of these specifications. Unifying the requirements while taking the existing specifications into account should help radically increase the overall proportion of sustainably grown cocoa.
Cocoa is one of the world's most important agricultural commodities. Germany is an especially important country for the trade as it processes some 10% of the world's cocoa (for use in confectionery, for example). Raw cocoa comes mainly from the West African countries Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo. Cocoa growing is unique and problematic, as it is the domain of smallholders and is usually their only means of livelihood. However, the farmers generally lack specialist knowledge and resources. In recent years cocoa growing has often been in the news because of child labour issues.