According to the International Cocoa Organisation
, Europeans account for almost half of the world’s chocolate consumption. The UK alone is the seventh largest consumer of chocolate. Serving this demand are around 6 million growers of cocoa, 60% of which comes from Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.
The cocoa industry faces a number of significant challenges. It is incredibly difficult for growers to make a decent living as much is grown on small farms of fewer than 5 hectares and they often have limited knowledge of modern farming techniques. Aging trees that are past their peak cocoa pod production, declining soil fertility, pests and diseases all impede productivity. At the same time, the sector faces a number of social challenges such as lack of quality basic education affecting everything from labour practices and business decisions to youth migration to more urban areas. Children in cocoa growing areas face the realities of rural poverty such as scarcity of land, food insecurity, lack of education infrastructure, access to potable water, and poor health services. The regular practice of children working on cocoa farms is often a natural way of life for growers who, for a variety of reasons, want to train their children and at the same time use them in order to reduce labour costs.
Cocoa is a very important ingredient for M&S as it is used in over 1,000 of our products from chocolate bars to cakes and deserts. Over the past few years we have been working to develop a practical approach to sourcing cocoa more sustainably in order to help secure our access to this vital ingredient in years to come as well as improving the lives of growers.
Commitments and targets
We want to lead our sector in sustainable production and consumption, offering our customers the good value, high quality products and services they expect from M&S, while respecting planetary boundaries and the need for social equity.
Our goal is to ensure that 100% of our cocoa (by volume) continues to be sourced from verified sustainable sources - a goal we first met in 2017. We are also committed to engaging in wider industry efforts to improve the cocoa sector and building resilient supply chain communities by investing in programmes, which build livelihoods, protect the environment and improve wellbeing.
Cocoa is very important to M&S. We use about 6,000 tonnes of cocoa bean equivalent each year to make over 1,000 products. Whilst we source cocoa through over 100 direct suppliers, more than 70% is sourced through just three main suppliers making confectionery, cakes and biscuits. We have our own unique high quality special recipes which means our supply chain is incredibly complex. Traceability is also a real challenge due to the way in which cocoa is traded, so it is hard for us to fully understand our supply chain beyond the trader. This is compounded by the fact that we use less than 0.01% of the world’s annual production of cocoa so our leverage or influence in the sector is minimal.
We are working with our suppliers and growers to help them address the ethical, environmental and economic challenges they face in order to maintain a long-term sustainable and secure supply. Over the last few years we have been developing an approach which is both practical and reflects our size and influence in this industry.
Our Sustainable Cocoa Commitment is as follows:
- We will source 100% of the cocoa (by volume) we use in M&S brand products from verified sustainable sources by March 2017 (Achieved)
- We will engage in industry efforts to improve the sustainability of the cocoa sector through our membership of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) (Ongoing)
- We will support the efforts of CocoaAction through our membership of the WCF and our relationship with our key suppliers. In 2018, we also signed up to the WCF Cocoa & Forest Initiative (Ongoing)
- We will help encourage the engagement and action of cocoa traders through our work with the Retailer Cocoa Coalition.
- We will invest in programmes which enhance the lives of people in cocoa growing communities (Ongoing)
Our approach to delivering our Sustainable Cocoa Commitment is as follows: