Top Cocoa Grower Plans Program to Trace Beans in Sustainability Push

Top Cocoa Grower Plans Program to Trace Beans in Sustainability Push

Ivory Coast plans to start a cocoa-tracing program from April as the world’s top grower faces mounting pressure to prove the sustainability of supplies of the chocolate ingredient.

Most cocoa is grown on small farms, with Ivory Coast and neighboring Ghana accounting for roughly 70% of output. The industry has long been plagued by issues such as deforestation and child labor, and consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of where and how the goods they buy are produced.

Some companies and independent organizations in the sector already have tracing programs, but there’s growing pressure for the biggest producing countries to do more. The European Union, which buys about two-thirds of Ivorian cocoa, is gearing up to introduce legislation aimed at eliminating the risk that products sold in the bloc cause deforestation. It’s also concerned about the use of child labor and improving incomes for farmers.

Ivory Coast’s cocoa regulator, Le Conseil du Cafe-Cacao, this week presented its plan to companies in the cocoa industry and will start a pilot phase of the tracing program on April 1. It follows a survey of farmers last year and will allow beans to be tracked from plantation to ports, according to a presentation.

There were no details on how many farmers will be in the pilot phase or how long it will last, but all of the country’s cocoa growers will need to take part when the program is rolled out fully.

“Companies will still be able to use their existing traceability programs, but it would have to be in addition to the national system, which is mandatory,” said Yves Kone, managing director of the regulator.

Details on the planned tracing program:

  • Farmers and other players in the supply chain will be identified through registration numbers.
  • Cocoa bags will be marked by producer to allow monitoring.
  • Farmers will get paid via digital payment cards, which will also store information including the location of plantations.

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