Launch of the French sustainable cocoa initiative

Institutional news 5 October 2021
On 5 October 2021, the French government represented by the Secretary of State for Biodiversity, Bérangère Abba, the Syndicat du Chocolat (French chocolate trade union), CIRAD, NGOs and retailers signed joint and decisive commitments towards sustainable cocoa, with the participation of the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester.
Pile of cocoa pods and tool used to open them, Ecuador © E. Cros, CIRAD
Pile of cocoa pods and tool used to open them, Ecuador © E. Cros, CIRAD

Pile of cocoa pods and tool used to open them, Ecuador © E. Cros, CIRAD

Led by the Syndicat du Chocolat, this “French Sustainable Cocoa Initiative” has emerged one year after the launch, by the United Nations, of the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and the call to launch coalitions for sustainable supply chains. It brings together the state, companies, traders, retail chains, civil society organisations and CIRAD. Other organisations working in the cocoa and chocolate industry in France are invited to join the initiative.

A major initiative resulting from long-standing efforts by the whole sector and multi-stakeholder consultations

According to Martijn ten Hoopen, CIRAD’s cocoa industry correspondent, “cooperation between research, the public authorities, the private sector and NGOs is the key to achieving sustainability goals for the cocoa industry, and is central to this new French initiative. The main objective and the prime condition for a sustainable industry is of course to ensure a decent living for producers”.

By signing this initiative, the founding signatories commit fully to ensuring a prosperous and sustainable cocoa production system, for the benefit of producers and the sector as a whole, in line with the processes already underway in other European countries, such as Beyond Chocolate (Belgium), GISCO (Germany), SWISSCO (Switzerland) and DISCO (Netherlands).

This French initiative is also part of the French National Strategy to Combat Imported Deforestation (SNDI), adopted on 14 November 2018, to end imports of unsustainable forest or agricultural products that drive deforestation by 2030.

The signatories of this initiative also undertake to work together even more closely to find sustainable solutions, going beyond the individual and collective actions already implemented. They invite all stakeholders and partners of the French cocoa industry to join this movement.

An initiative based on a threefold commitment

The signatories jointly commit to achieving the following objectives in cocoa producing regions:

  • Improving the income of cocoa farmers and their families, to enable them to achieve a decent living (in the sense of the “Living Income Community of Practice”), by 2030 at the latest, in collaboration with producer countries;
  • Working with all stakeholders to ensure that by 2025 at the latest, the French cocoa industry and its partners halt imports from areas deforested after 1 January 2020; combating forest degradation; and protecting remaining forests and areas of high environmental value;
  • Taking the necessary measures to combat and ensure progress on forced labour and child labour (as defined by the ILO conventions) in cocoa producing regions by 2025, in the framework of the implementation of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7 (ending child labour, forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking) while helping to foster the rights of children and their access to education. We will also contribute to the empowerment of women within the cocoa industry.

The governance of the initiative

The work resulting from this initiative will be led collectively by different stakeholders:

  • the French government (representatives of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the French Development Agency);
  • industry and traders meeting within the Syndicat du Chocolat;
  • representatives of a group of NGOs (Association Max Havelaar France, WWF, Rainforest Alliance, Pur Projet, Nitidae, Mighty Earth, Commerce Equitable France);
  • representatives of predominantly food retail chains (Intermarché, Système U, Casino Group, Carrefour Group, Lidl France) ;
  • representatives of research organisations (CIRAD).

The signatories will work to develop a governance text and aim to adopt a plan of action by 1 March 2022.

About the Syndicat du Chocolat

The chocolate sector encompasses more than 115 companies in France, from small family firms to multinationals, that produce and sell chocolate. These include primary and secondary processing companies, end product manufacturers, and networks of chocolate retailers with more than 10 shops, for some 30 000 direct jobs.

Established over 150 years ago, the Syndicat du Chocolat represents more than 85% of the sector. Its work includes assisting companies in acting collectively on the major social and environmental issues facing the industry, especially in terms of product quality, guaranteeing the sustainability of chocolate and promoting chocolate in all its diversity to consumers.

About the SNDI

The French National Strategy to Combat Imported Deforestation (SNDI) is an initiative launched by the French government in 2018. Its goal is to end by 2030 imports of unsustainable forest or agricultural products that drive deforestation.