6 tips for cocoa exporters to meet sustainability demands

The sustainability demands for European cocoa buyers are growing because of increased consumer awareness and stricter European regulations. As a result, meeting the sustainability demands is important for cocoa exporters, too. What is a good approach for your company?

Tip 1: Address farmer poverty

Farmer poverty is one of the main causes of many sustainability issues in the cocoa sector. Due to poverty, many farmers need help to pay workers or cannot send their children to school. As a result, farmers violate labour rights and many children are forced to work at farms. Farmers cannot make sustainable choices as long as they struggle to keep their business going. A successful and sustainable cocoa farm can help farmers overcome poverty. That is why starting with sustainability targets, including financial or strategic benefits for the farmers, is vital.

Tip 2: Consider carbon finance to generate extra income 

Carbon finance can help to create extra income for farmers. This financing form can also help exporters make their cocoa more attractive to buyers that want to reduce their carbon footprint. In recent years, there have been some new initiatives for smallholder farmers. Examples are the Gold Standard Micro-Scale Program, Acorn and SarVision.

Tip 3: Support low-productive farms

A higher yield and improved cocoa production can lead to a higher income on farms with low yields of less than 500 kilograms per hectare. But, in some cases, higher yields can in fact reduce profits. That is because increased production means more labour is needed. So, mainly supporting low-productive farms that can make gains is crucial.

Tip 4: Increase traceability

Traceability is essential if you want to become more socially and environmentally responsible. Good traceability makes carrying out and monitoring sustainability measures easier. Better traceability also helps you to manage your business and meet new European Union (EU) regulations. There are several strategies to improve traceability. For example, you can work with free downloadable templates, such as the one provided by Rainforest Alliance.

Tip 5: Consider certification

Certification is the most common resource to show that you meet social responsibility and environmental requirements. Also, certification can guide you toward becoming even more sustainable. When choosing a certification scheme in the cocoa sector, it is essential to take the following steps:

  • Research the available certification schemes;
  • Determine your social sustainability goals;
  • Understand market interest;
  • Consider the certification programme's reputation;
  • Research the certification costs;
  • Work closely with farmers to meet the needed requirements.

Tip 6: Prepare for the future

The European Union has many sustainability regulations, for example:

  • Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD);
  • Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD); and
  • EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR).

Many of these regulations enforce chain responsibility. Chain responsibility means European buyers are responsible for the sustainability of the entire supply chain, including your products. So, you can expect the buyers' demands to become stricter in the coming years. Meeting these demands is essential to keep working with European buyers in the future.

Learn more

You can find more tips and information on how to start working in our Tips to become socially responsible and Tips to go green .

Tjalling de Boer wrote this news article for CBI.

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