‘Farmer poverty persists despite chocolate sector’s booming resources’ — 5th Chocolate Scorecard

Agriculture A file photo
MAR 20, 2024 LISTEN
A file photo

The 5th Edition of the Chocolate Scorecard (2024) was launched on Wednesday, March 20, by EcoCare Ghana and partners; Be Slavery Free and Mighty Earth.

The scorecard, which ranked 85 of the largest chocolate companies, retailers, and processors on their performance in six sustainability categories, has revealed that the chocolate industry is undergoing significant improvement, but key challenges such as farmer poverty remain unaddressed.

Despite the chocolate industry’s forecasted revenue growth standing at 5.6%, surpassing global economic growth estimates of 2.6%, and expected to generate around US$254 billion in 2024, the issue of farmer poverty remains a significant challenge.

“The root cause of child labour, deforestation is poverty which results from farmers not being paid well. Many of them, about 4 out of 5 live below the poverty threshold,” emphasized Obed Owusu-Addai, the Managing Campaigner of EcoCare Ghana.

Obed Owusu-Addai, the Managing Campaigner of EcoCare GhanaObed Owusu-Addai, the Managing Campaigner of EcoCare Ghana

The scorecard revealed that while a majority of respondent companies recognize a living income as a basic human right (83%), only six companies were paying 100% of their farmers a Living Income Reference Price.

The scorecard also highlighted key findings in six thematic areas: Traceability and Transparency, Living Income for farmers, Child Labour, Deforestation and Climate Change, Agroforestry, and Pesticides.

Despite improvements in traceability in response to EU Deforestation Regulations (EUDR), achieving full EUDR compliance remains a work in progress.

On the issue of child labour, responses are increasing in effectiveness, but the road to elimination is still fraught mainly due to the lack of scale of programs.

The scorecard also noted that environmental initiatives, such as climate targets, ending deforestation, and use of agroforestry, are gaining momentum.

However, many companies have policies on pesticide management in place, but this hasn’t resulted in enough action on the ground.

Good and Bad Egg Awards:
Tony's ChocoLonely was ranked as the most sustainable chocolate company for the second time in a row.

Ritter and HALBA followed closely behind.
However, Krueger, Glico, JB Cocoa, and General Mills were criticized for their lack of transparency and refusal to respond, earning them the title of "rotten eggs."

The Chocolate Scorecard initiative, coordinated by Be Slavery Free in collaboration with various stakeholders, aims to promote transparency, accountability, and responsible practices within the industry.

The scorecard recommends that governments, NGOs, companies, and consumers must work together to ensure that farmers are supported in meeting the requirements for EUDR compliance and are compensated fairly for their efforts. Companies must also work towards reducing their pesticide use and implementing more sustainable farming practices.

“It will take a concerted effort from all stakeholders to achieve these goals, but the future of the industry and the planet depends on it,” the report concluded.

Isaac Donkor Distinguished
Isaac Donkor Distinguished

News ReporterPage: IsaacDonkorDistinguished