Chocolate giant sweetens supply chain with $400M investment

The world's largest chocolate company, Mondelēz International, yesterday announced plans to invest $400 million over the next 10 years to help suppliers enhance productivity and improve sustainability efforts.

Dubbed "Cocoa Life," the program is modeled on subsidiary Cadbury's successful Cocoa Partnership initiatives in Ghana, India and the Dominican Republic, which have already helped thousands of farmers boost productivity while reducing environmental impacts and accelerating development efforts.

Cadbury's had already committed to invest $70 million in its sustainable supply chain programs between 2008 and 2018, and has already seen significant successes in Ghana where the company reports cocoa yields for farmers taking part in the program have increased 20 percent.

Now Mondelēz International has said it will increase investment in similar programs to $400 million by 2022, including $100 million that has been earmarked to support 75,000 farmers in Côte d'Ivoire, the world's largest cocoa-producing country.

The company said the program would help boost the livelihoods and living conditions of 200,000 cocoa farmers globally, while also accelerating the adoption of sustainability best practices that serve to reduce biodiversity loss and soil erosion at the same time as enhancing water efficiency and yields.

"I'm proud of Mondelēz International's $400m investment in Cocoa Life – a distinctive, holistic approach to cocoa sustainability that will create a cycle of growth from bean to bar," said Tim Cofer, executive vice president and president for Mondelēz Europe at the World Cocoa Conference in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. "Our mission is to create thriving cocoa communities and help secure the future of the cocoa industry."

The company said the program would target six regions – Côte d'Ivoire, Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana, India and Dominican Republic – and work in partnership with a range of different NGOs, including United Nations Development Program, the WWF and Anti-Slavery International to develop "a robust set of principles for success and ways to measure progress."

It added that in addition to education and financing-based efforts to promote more environmentally sustainable farming practices, the program would also seek to tackle child labor and promote community development.

Photo of cacao beans provided by Joanna Wnuk/Shutterstock