Cocoa companies call for human rights and environmental due diligence requirements

Monday, 2 December 2019

Update: since the original publication of this call for an EU Due Diligence requirement, various cocoa and chocolate companies have joined this coalition. In addition to the orginal industry signatories of Barry Callebaut, Mars Wrigley and Mondelez, we can add Nestlé, Tony Chocolonely, Unilever and Ferrero. An updated version of the document can be found here.

We, a group of companies (Barry Callebaut AG, Mars Wrigley and Mondelēz International), The VOICE Network*, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, call on the European Union, by far the largest importer and consumer of cocoa in the world, to strengthen human rights and environmental due diligence requirements of companies in global cocoa supply chains, aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

We strongly believe that we all need to take action together to effectively address some of the systemic human rights and environmental challenges in the cocoa supply chain. National governments must enforce and strengthen their own labour, child protection and environmental laws, and companies have a responsibility to conduct due diligence to identify risk, jointly evaluate remediation and take action which is proportionate to their exposure to the human rights and environmental risk.

Therefore, we think an EU-wide approach to due diligence will benefit all actors in the supply chain in terms of a clear and consistent set of rules and common intent.

The EU should:

  • Aim to negotiate bilateral agreements with cocoa origin governments to create the frameworks necessary to achieve this aim and provide financial and technical support to those governments to do so.
  • Establish a regulatory and policy framework within the EU to ensure that companies conduct human rights and environmental due diligence in their supply chains.  This will help encourage sustainable cocoa production, support consumer trust and help sustain market demand for cocoa from West Africa over the long term.

Find our Joint Position Statement outlining the details of our call to action here. We are looking forward to working with relevant authorities, the rest of the industry and various stakeholders to discuss what is proposed. We invite others to endorse our Joint Position Statement.

Media enquiries should be addressed to:

* The VOICE Network is an association of NGOs and trade unions, functioning as a watchdog and catalyst for a reformed cocoa sector. Its members are ABVV/FGTB-HorvalBe Slavery Free (formerly Stop The Traffik)EFFAT (observer), FERNFNVGreen AmericaInkota NetzwerkInternational Labor Rights ForumMighty EarthOxfam NovibOxfam WereldwinkelsPublic Eye (observer), Solidaridad, and Südwind Institut.

VOICE Response to West African Cocoa Floor Price

Thursday, 5 September 2019

The announcement that the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments will raise the floor price for cocoa farmers, as well as levy an extra fee to cocoa buyers, is an important and necessary step in order to make the cocoa sector more sustainable and should be supported by the cocoa industry. The VOICE network welcomes this historic initiative by the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to improve the income situation for farmers, although questions remain on its implementation.

Read our full response here.

Vacancy: we are looking for a coordinator!

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

With a growth in members and an increase in activities, we are now looking to strengthen the coordination of our network. With this new position, we are looking for someone who can help steering the network, with a focus on planning, monitoring, administration and logistics.

Read the vacancy here. Deadline for submissions is August 21st.

Position paper on certification

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The past months have seen a lot of developments around certification in the cocoa sector – such as the release of the new ISO standard, Fairtrade’s revised Minimum Price and Living Income Reference Price, and a consultation on the first draft of the new merged Rainforest/UTZ  standard. We believe that it is time for civil society to take stock of where we are.

To this purpose we are pleased to share a short position paper on the current state of certification. Of particular concern to us is the danger of a race to the bottom on pricing, and we call strongly on especially the Rainforest Alliance to put in place minimum pricing and premium systems. Increasing market share by paying the farmer less should not be a strategy for any sustainability standard.

In this position paper, we look at the strengths and shortcomings of voluntary standards, and argue that in order to achieve true sustainability there must be mandatory due diligence regulations, creating a level playing field for all.

2018 Cocoa Barometer Released

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Report paints dark chocolate picture: as prices fall, woes rise for farmers, children, forests

Cocoa growing communities, particularly in West Africa, are facing poverty, child labour and deforestation that have been made worse by a rapid fall in prices for cocoa. Widely touted efforts in the cocoa industry to improve the lives of farmers, communities and the environment made in the past decade are having little impact. In fact, the modest scope of the proposed solutions does not even come close to addressing the scale of the problem. These are core conclusions of the 2018 Cocoa Barometer, a biennial review of the state of sustainability in the cocoa sector.

Continue reading “2018 Cocoa Barometer Released”

Accra Workshop: VOICE’s first Farmers Conference

Friday, 2 October 2015

This September, VOICE Network hosted its first farmers workshop in Accra, Ghana. The two day Voice of Farmers and Civil Society Cocoa Workshop was organised as a way to bring farmers, civil society and unions together in an attempt to build relationships between different delegates in the cocoa sector, to share practices and to add to an advocacy program for the coming years.

Continue reading “Accra Workshop: VOICE’s first Farmers Conference”

Chocolate too Cheap to be Sustainable

Friday, 6 March 2015

Extreme poverty is the norm for West African cocoa farmers. At the same time, the cocoa supply chain is increasingly dominated by a select group of large corporations. Current initiatives and programmes are not sufficient to tackle the challenges that cocoa farming is facing. A more fundamental reform of the sector is needed. These are some of the core conclusions of the 2015 Cocoa Barometer, an initiative of the main European civil society organisations involved in sustainable cocoa production.

Continue reading “Chocolate too Cheap to be Sustainable”

2015 Cocoa Barometer Launch: March 6th

Monday, 23 February 2015

The 2015 Cocoa Barometer will be launched March 6th, 2015, at the Chocoa Conference in Amsterdam.

For press inquiries prior to March 6th, the full version of the 2015 Cocoa Barometer is available (under embargo) upon request.

Antonie Fountain, Managing Director of the VOICE Network, and chief author of the Cocoa Barometer is available for interviews.