Global demand for chocolate has grown substantially in recent years, with production of the sweet stuff increasing by 62% between 2008/9 and 2018/19 as a result to try and satisfy our insatiable appetites.

But exposing ethical and environmental risks in opaque cocoa supply chains can be challenging for businesses, NGOs and governments alike, and educating consumers on the threats posed by some of the world’s favourite commodities is equally tough.

Within this article, we seek to explore the bittersweet reality of the cocoa commodity, from child labour to deforestation, and explain how implementing supply chain transparency software can help organisations unwrap complex cocoa supplier networks to protect people and the planet for many years to come.

Cocoa at the cost of child labour

Just two countries in West Africa (Ivory Coast and Ghana) are responsible for generating more than 50% of the world’s cocoa, but sadly, almost half of all children living in agricultural households in these areas are subject to cocoa-growing child labour.

Only 30% of the UK population are aware that modern slavery exists in cocoa supply chains.

Tony’s Chocolonely

Although leading chocolate brands including Tony’s Chocolonely and Barry Callebout are aware of the risks and regularly report on progress, there’s clearly more to be done with each finding thousands of incidents of child labour in their supply chains last year alone.

Cocoa plantation expansion causing forest loss

The expansion of cocoa plantations in Ghana and the Ivory Coast has shockingly resulted in both countries losing over 80% of their forests in recent decades according to Mighty Earth, despite the Cocoa & Forests Initiative Framework for Action, signed by the two governments, along with leading cocoa traders and manufacturers back in 2017.

60% of British public unaware of threats that climate change poses to UK supplies of cocoa.

Opinium Research on behalf of Fairtrade

With forthcoming legislation concerning key commodities including the EU Due Diligence Act and the UK Environment Act on the horizon, and other declarations and roadmaps launched at COP26, businesses will need to understand regulation requirements to stay compliant and consider supply chain transparency solutions to help root out deforestation and protect brand reputation.

Managing child labour and deforestation risk in cocoa supply chains

Formed in 2013, Authenticate has been helping leading brands, all over the world to visualise and manage key commodity supply chains, including cocoa with a range of digital tools.

  • Map and visualise cocoa supply chains, back to farm with supply chain mapping
  • Track supplier certification status, including Fairtrade, real-time
  • Audit risk with custom digital supplier surveys from anywhere in the world
  • Collect modern slavery and sustainability policies from suppliers with our secure, central document management solution
  • Track supply chain performance against bespoke KPIs linked to child labour, deforestation and much more
  • Understand and benchmark supply chain ESG performance with our standardised assessment template

With over 1700 products containing cocoa mapped on the platform from over 40 countries including the Ivory Coast and Ghana, our technology and experience is on hand to help your business manage ethical and environmental risk. Get in touch with the team to sweeten your cocoa supply chains, at every tier.

For more information on the Authenticate platform or to discuss your challenges and requirements, get in touch with the team.