Global snack maker Mondelēz International has announced plans to add the message “Helping Farmers to Grow” on its chocolate products.
The company indicated that this means it will not only consider commercial imperatives but also environmental, social and ethical factors when choosing where to source key ingredients, like cocoa.
During a March 27 media roundtable, Mondelēz South, Central and East Africa corporate and government affairs manager Navisha Bechan-Sewkuran said sustainable sourcing was not only good for business but also for the empowerment of farmers, communities and future generations of cocoa farmers, particularly in rural cocoa growing areas.
The purpose of the roundtable was for Mondelēz International and co-hosts, Bean There Coffee Company, to create a platform to discuss sustainable sourcing and why it was necessary.
Industry and academic experts also formed part of the panel to provide a holistic view on this topical subject.
Mondelēz International has implemented its Cocoa Life programme in West Africa, South America and Asia.
The programme, which was launched in 2012, is aimed at investing $400-million in 200 000 cocoa farmers and one-million community members in the regions where the company sources cocoa by 2020.
The Cocoa Life programme invests in women by providing farmer training, improving financial literacy and resilience, and empowering them to earn an income and be active community leaders and members.
The programme also helps to protect children from child labour in cocoa-growing communities by addressing its root causes; and combatting climate change by reducing its carbon footprint and addressing deforestation in the cocoa supply chain.
Mondelēz says its interventions go beyond the procurement of cocoa to include helping communities identify ways of developing their land and diversifying their sources of revenue.
“Cocoa is a seasonal crop. It was important that we share skills with farmers and assist them to develop a Community Action Plan to ensure that they have a way of looking after themselves and have an income beyond the cocoa season.”
“We are proud to say that, with our intervention, we have managed to help communities that were solely dependent on cocoa farming to diversify [into other farming projects] and, in one case, have created a bakery that has become a main source of income,” said Bechan-Sewkuran.