Everybody is talking about fair trade chocolate, whether it is bought at Christmas, Easter or at any other time of the year. More and more people are purchasing fair trade products because of increased awareness of equitable global trade. In addition to high quality, other aspects are equally important to them; these aspects include agriculture in harmony with nature, environmental protection by means of sustainable farming methods, a ban on pesticides, and the resulting benefits for their own health.
Specific foods and even entire sectors are often associated with fair trade. Cocoa is one such food product – and therefore chocolate as well. Particularly when it comes to chocolate, consumers place a high priority on fair trade because chocolate is something special and everyone wants to continue enjoying it in all its varied forms and flavors for as long as possible.
Fair trade is not just a label; it is a conscious decision to support farmers in the countries where raw materials are sourced. This makes sense because, for example, in the main cultivation regions in West Africa, 90% of the cocoa is grown by small farming operations on areas of less than five hectares of land each. Ghana is one of the countries Lindt & Sprüngli sources cocoa beans from to produce its chocolate. Because sustainability is one of the central pillars of our corporate philosophy and is firmly anchored in our business strategy, Lindt & Sprüngli has also made the active decision to develop a sustainable sourcing model – the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program.
For all of us as consumers, this means that we can continue to enjoy chocolate with a clear conscience.
Fair trade: One term, many meanings
Fair trade aims to improve the living and working conditions of producers and workers and strives for greater equity in international trade. A fair, transparent and collaborative business relationship between producers and buyers plays a key role in this respect. Fair trade involves not only fair prices, but also social and environmental criteria for achieving long-term improvements for producers in developing and emerging countries. Consumers who wish to support fair trade have a large selection to choose from today, including coffee, juice, tea, chocolate, nuts and even textiles and furniture.
Established organizations that are committed to promoting fair trade include, for example, Fair Trade Max Havelaar, the World Fair Trade Organization, mercifair and Gebana. There are, of course, many others too, some of which are also very well known beyond their own national borders.
And what does Lindt & Sprüngli have in common with all of them? Lindt & Sprüngli shares the goals of sustainable cocoa cultivation and a collaborative partnership with producers. However, the company has decided to go its own way and develop a sustainable sourcing model known as the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program.
How fair trade chocolate is produced: From bean to bar
Lindt & Sprüngli is one of the few chocolate makers that can trace and follow each production step – from the selection of cocoa beans to the finished praline or bar of chocolate. This “bean-to-bar” approach serves as the basis for responsible action along the entire value chain and helps to ensure that the social, environmental and economic aspects of cocoa cultivation are improved on a continuous basis.
It was on this basis that we launched the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program in Ghana in 2008. It has been possible to fully trace and verify the entire cocoa bean supply chain from Ghana since 2016. The visible progress and successes in Ghana have encouraged Lindt & Sprüngli’s decision to expand the Program to other countries. In the meantime, the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program has been established in Ecuador, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and the Dominican Republic, with over 72,500 farmers participating. Our goal for 2020: 100% of our cocoa beans will come from the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program and be traceable and verified.
The reasons for setting this target are obvious:
- We want to know who the farmers are who produce the most important raw material for our products. This is the basis for providing direct support to them and their communities and ensuring a sustainable sourcing model.
- It will ensure independent, comprehensive control over every individual step in the cocoa bean production chain.
- Mass balance is not an option for us. (Please visit the following website for more information on mass balance: https://utz.org/better-business-hub/sourcing-sustainable-products/6567/.) The sourcing model we have developed encompasses the entire cocoa bean sourcing process and is not limited to individual product groups.
- It is also important to Lindt & Sprüngli that the Program help farmers to achieve higher productivity, improve their living conditions and generate higher income.
- The farmers, their families and the village community are therefore the focus of the Program, and Lindt & Sprüngli ensures that they all benefit directly from the financial assistance.
How do farmers actually benefit from the Farming Program?
The Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program aims to improve the living conditions for cocoa farmers and ensure a sustainable intensification of agriculture. It will achieve these aims through higher farm productivity (higher yields), diversified income and increased farmer resilience, preservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystems and better infrastructure in the communities. By 2020, 100% of the cocoa beans used by Lindt & Sprüngli should be sourced from its own Program. The farmers can take advantage of educational opportunities, improve their farming practices and attend training courses about environmental protection and biodiversity. They also receive information about such topics as workplace safety, child labor and personal health.
The Farming Program consists of four elements:
- The first element is to organize the farmers into groups, set up systems for ensuring the traceability of the cocoa beans and gathering basic data to determine the needs of the farmers and their communities.
- The second element involves providing training and knowledge to the farmers. By means of theoretical and practical training sessions or individual consultations, the farmers learn new agricultural methods and everything about the cultivation, harvesting, fermentation and drying of cocoa beans. There are also training courses about environmental protection, workplace safety and standards, and information on how to maintain personal health. Workshops on good business practices are also held so that the farmers learn how to manage their farms professionally as businesses and diversify their income.
- The third element involves farmer investments and community development. These may include such areas as the construction of water systems and boreholes for clean drinking water, as well as the renovation of primary schools to combat the risk of child labor or the provision of farming equipment (e.g. rubber boots, pruning tools and fertilizer) and cocoa seedlings and shade trees.
- The fourth element, verification, guarantees an assessment of the effectiveness of the various activities and continuous improvement of the Program. More specifically, it takes the form of:
- Annual visits by field workers to all farmers in the Program to conduct internal inspections
- Annual external audits by The Earthworm Foundation, including visits to each Program
- Identification, discussion and implementation of improvements when necessary
We hope to use the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program to do our part to ensure fair trade for cocoa beans.