New Report Shows Results of Industry-Wide Collaboration in Cocoa

Progress Blog
New Report Shows Results of Industry-Wide Collaboration in Cocoa

By Cathy Pieters, Global Director of Cocoa Life, Mondelēz International - 11/10/16

On a recent trip to Africa, I was riding on a bus that got stuck in the mud. Everyone got out to help. The only way to get it moving again was if all the passengers pushed in the same direction at the same time.

This lesson in collaboration rings true for the cocoa sector: For years, the leading chocolate and cocoa companies worked separately on cocoa sustainability before realizing that, together, they could have a bigger impact. In 2014, eleven of them, including Mondelēz International, founded CocoaAction with the support and governance of the World Cocoa Foundation.

CocoaAction is a voluntary industry-wide strategy for a rejuvenated and economically viable cocoa sector and it aligns private companies, origin governments, and key stakeholders. Given the competitiveness of the market, it’s an achievement to have an open and transparent discussion so we can concentrate our efforts toward the same goals. For example, we’ve shared our success with Cocoa Life’s Village Savings and Loans Associations, a model to provide simple savings and loan facilities in a community that does not have easy access to formal financial services, and other companies are implementing similar programs.

This teamwork has allowed us to make significant strides in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which are highlighted in the recently released 2015 CocoaAction Annual Report. One critical milestone was the development of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress, which creates a culture of accountability. Companies must bring in data to share, so no one can watch from the sidelines — all of the CocoaAction partners are expected to innovate as well as implement tactics and programs.

“CocoaAction is an ambitious strategy. Scaling up sustainability requires more than increasing cocoa farmers’ productivity. We must work together to improve farmers’ access to financing so they can plant and rehabilitate their farms. We also need to address climate change and deforestation; child labor; and the swollen shoot virus that is damaging crops in West Africa. Despite the challenges and enormity of the task before us, all of the partners and stakeholders can rightly be proud of the advances we made in 2015.”

Rick Scobey, president of the World Cocoa Foundation

My hope is that our collective action will inspire others in the cocoa sector to join forces, including government agencies, donors, and funders. To go back to the bus analogy: when people see their peers pushing forward, more are more likely to join and push as well.

Cocoa sustainability is a vast and complex challenge, and we are only one piece of the puzzle. The road isn’t going to be easy. But if everyone pushes in the same direction, we can make a big difference.

CARE international assessment on Cocoa Life’s women’s empowerment