At Rosalie’s, we believe that sourcing sustainable cocoa is essential. We love chocolate, and want to make sure that it remains delicious, sustainable and guilt-free for generations to come! Today, however, the cocoa industry faces numerous challenges, from smallholder farmers struggling to make a living, to deforestation and child labour in the supply chain. That’s why it’s more important than ever to source cocoa from sustainable partners that support cocoa farming communities, protect the environment, and respect human rights. In this blog post, Rosalie’s Chocolates and partner program Cocoa Horizons share their views on and approach to sustainable cocoa farming and sourcing.
Cocoa farming today
Rosalie’s Chocolates: “Rosalie’s Chocolates is a sustainable Belgian chocolate brand with sustainability wired into its DNA. So, when we looked for a cocoa partner, two important conditions had to be met: the taste of the cocoa and the commitment of the partner towards supporting farmers with a focus on labour and the environment. While we considered various partners, it quickly became clear that the Cocoa Horizons program could meet both expectations.”
Cocoa Horizons: “Today, cocoa farmers and suppliers face complex obstacles to ensure the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain. The main challenge is productivity. Cocoa farmers are stuck in poverty due to low yields from small farms with ageing cocoa trees. Shifting rainfall patterns due to climate change create inhospitable conditions for cocoa crops. Depleted soils also contribute to deforestation as farmers search for more fertile lands. Poverty and a lack of infrastructure, such as access to water and schools, are root causes of persistent child labour in cocoa farming. These factors make cocoa farming little profitable, creating competition with other crops and professional activities, making it less appealing to future generations, thereby threatening the future of the industry.”
Choosing sustainable partnerships in the chocolate industry
Rosalie’s Chocolates: “We chose Cocoa Horizons as a starting point for our sustainable sourcing program. As a small brand with limited means, we appreciated the communication tools and business support offered by Cocoa Horizons. We also value the program’s independence, which is based on verification rather than certification. The fact that Cocoa Horizons allows us to choose how our contribution will be invested, is an added bonus.”
Cocoa Horizons: “Joining Cocoa Horizons is simple. Brands sign a deed and pay a premium for the amount of cocoa they wish to source. Membership entails access to information and communication tools that help you spread the word about your sustainable mission. You can, if you please, visit a cocoa farm once a year and meet the farmers. As an independent, non-profit organization, we offer insights into the impact of our work. We are active in seven equatorial countries and have a strong local presence, with around 1400 people contributing in the field. 92 % of our means go directly to the cocoa farmers and their community, while 8 % covers administrative expenses.”
Fair, eco-friendly and community-oriented cocoa farming
Cocoa Horizons: “Our program has three main pillars: productivity, environment, and community. We aim to provide an additional cash premium to cocoa farmers and lift them out of poverty by offering personalized coaching, drafting a business plan to increase yields, granting access to products and services such as extra labourers to support pruning, and promoting activities outside of cocoa farming to ensure them a diverse income. We strive to eliminate deforestation and remove carbon from our supply chain by informing farmers about these issues, using agroforestry to improve soil and yield, and having off-farm projects such as restoring forests. We want to protect human rights and provide support to keep children in school with individualized and community-centric actions. The most severe cases of child labour are reported to authorities and the other cases are remediated. Women play a crucial role in our efforts, and we support them to organize themselves to collect savings and provide micro-loans to help them support their families.