Chocolate, often referred to as the ‘food of the gods’, is undoubtedly one of our most favourite indulgent treats. But in recent years, as global supply chains have become more transparent, long-standing issues in the cocoa farming industry have come to light, including deforestation and the generational impoverishment of cocoa farming communities.
Cocoa is a tropical crop cultivated by smallholder farmers mainly in West African countries such as: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. It is estimated that cocoa production provides livelihoods for between 40 and 50 million farmers, rural workers and their families in the Global South.*
Ten years ago, Woolworths launched its journey to achieve 100% responsibly sourced cocoa in its branded chocolate products. In 2012, that goal was impossible to achieve outright as there simply was not enough responsibly produced cocoa certified by independent programmes, and so it began with 25% cocoa certified by the UTZ programme, which has since merged with Rainforest Alliance. In 2016, due to demand and support, Woolworths was able to increase this to ensure that all its branded chocolate slabs, bars and boxes contained responsibly sourced cocoa.
Today, through four different sustainability programmes, Woolworths has now achieved its 100% responsibly sourced cocoa goal. This means that ALL its branded chocolate and cocoa products from breakfast cereals, hot drinks, yoghurts and milkshakes to biscuits, cakes and desserts now also contain responsibly sourced cocoa.
Latiefa Behardien, Woolworths Head of Foods Technology, Safety and the Good Business Journey says, “Over the years, as we’ve worked towards achieving this 100% responsibly sourced cocoa target, we have partnered with specialist organisations that share our responsible sourcing values such as Rainforest Alliance/UTZ, Cocoa Life, Cocoa Horizons, Fairtrade and more. They meet our requirements in that they are independently verified; they support sustainable livelihoods for cocoa farmers and enable enhanced productivity; they promote environmentally sustainable cocoa agriculture and adherence to labour laws. Their overall aim is to benefit cocoa communities and help to create a sustainable cocoa supply for future generations. They also transparently report on progress and impact, so our customers know that when they choose a branded Woolworths chocolate product, they are part of the global solution. This brings peace of mind, and guilt-free enjoyment of our favourite Woolies branded chocolate and cocoa products.”
The 100% responsibly sourced cocoa achievement is part of the ongoing Woolworths Good Business Journey which includes working towards responsible sources of other commodities such as cotton and coffee.