How Barry Callebaut Is Saving Chocolate with Bold 2025 Goals

Structural issues with the chocolate supply chain require action
Barry Callebaut 2025 Goals
Publ. date 14 Mar 2018
Ten years ago, newcomer Tony’s Chocolonely disrupted the chocolate industry with its purpose of making chocolate 100% free of child labor and slavery. Today, big players have started to follow suit. Barry Callebaut, the world's leading supplier of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, has set and is working towards very ambitious sustainability goals. Barry Callebaut’s forward-looking approach is an example of inevitable action if we are to have chocolate in the future at all.

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From its start in 2005, Tony’s Chocolonely was a business with the purpose to be 100% slave- and child-labor free. Once they had demonstrated the feasibility of this approach, the company proceeded to encourage and force the entire industry to adopt the same responsible practices. With a major potential for impact, industry leader Barry Callebaut is raising the (chocolate) bar once again in the hopes of influencing the sector and protecting the chocolate supply chain.

A recipe for success

Since Barry Callebaut is fully dependent on cocoa, sustainability is already fundamental to the company’s long-term survival. The company’s leadership in sustainable chocolate production is significantly due to its belief that sustainable chocolate should be the norm. In 2016, the company created its “Forever Chocolate” program containing four ambitious 2025 targets:

  • We will eradicate child labor from our supply chain
  • We will lift more than 500,000 cocoa farmers out of poverty
  • We will become carbon and forest positive
  • We will have 100% sustainable ingredients in all of our products

These four goals address some of the biggest sustainability challenges in the chocolate industry: low productivity on cocoa farms due to poor agricultural practices, and high poverty levels in farmers causing low investment in the farms and a reliance on child labor. These challenges form the most significant threats to the future supply of cocoa, but not many companies have been proactively seeking solutions. With its internally-set and very competitive list of goals, Barry Callebaut has been able to catalyze and drive creativity and innovation.

Shift to a proactive approach

Barry Callebaut’s success is underlined by the incorporation of material issues into their strategy. For example, Barry Callebaut has recently committed to sustainably sourced palm oil and zero deforestation in its supply chain, two increasingly important material topics in the sector. Furthermore, traceability of their products is an issue that Barry Callebaut has started dealing with by creating a cloud-based data management system allowing them to be in contact with farmers in near real-time.

What also enables Barry Callebaut to achieve these goals is its specialized sustainability team of over 50 people worldwide including ecologists, agronomists, geographers, trainers, controllers and auditors as well as a strong engagement at the corporate level. In addition, the company is active in many partnerships such as the World Cocoa Foundation as well as the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI). The company is also one of the driving forces behind CocoaAction, the World Cocoa Foundation’s voluntary strategy to align the initiatives of global cocoa and chocolate producers to improve the livelihood of cocoa farmers.

Want to address your risks and opportunities proactively?

Follow Barry Callebaut's approach by completing a materiality assessment to integrate relevant material topics boldly into your strategy. Whether it is for a Re-Fresh or full swing materiality matrix, please contact Josée van der Hoek, Director, at josee@finchandbeak.com or +31 6 28 02 18 80 to accelerate your lean reporting.

About Camille Simm

Passionate young professional aiming at bridging sustainability and corporate strategy. | camille@finchandbeak.com

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