Cocoa beans from Ecuador to Switzerland

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By Lindt & Sprüngli

Kilchberg, Switzerland /

With our Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program, we reached an important milestone in 2020: 100% of our cocoa beans are traceable and verified by an independent third party. We explain why transparency is so important and how we closely follow the path of our beans.

The cocoa beans in Lindt & Sprüngli's chocolates are sourced through our own sustainability program - the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program. It aims for ecologically and socially responsible cultivation and supports farmers, their families and their communities. Last year, we reached an important milestone with our Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program: 100% of our cocoa beans are traceable back to the farmers and verified by an independent third party. The sustainability and quality of our chocolate products are crucial to us. Traceability of the cocoa beans is the basis for this. Only if we know exactly where our beans come from, can we specifically improve the living conditions of the farmers and at the same time influence the quality. The Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program, is in place in all countries we source cocoa beans from (Ghana, Ecuador, Madagascar, Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea).

This transparency goes hand in hand with our approach to produce "from bean to bar". On the way to sustainable chocolate, this transparency is crucial.

In this blog post, we explain what traceability means, why it is so important and how we closely follow the journey of our most important raw material. To do this, we take you on the journey of the cocoa beans from Ecuador to Switzerland. We start at Ricondo’s plantation, where our beans grow in the warm sun.

Step 1: Ricondo becomes part of the Farming Program

Cocoa is often grown in countries with difficult living and working conditions. To change these circumstances, Lindt & Sprüngli has been committed to a more sustainable supply chain for years. The aim is to promote more sustainable cocoa farming and to strengthen the resilience of farmers like Ricondo. The Farming Program enables us to support farmers and their communities according to their specific needs. It empowers farmers to manage their farms according to good agricultural, social, environmental and economic practices. The engagement helps farmers to increase their yields and consequently their income, shows them how to ensure the long-term agricultural use of the land, and promotes access to farming equipment and infrastructure.

Ecuador has been part of the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program since 2014 and Ricondo has been there from the beginning. As a new member, our local implementation partner added Ricondo's name, the coordinates of his farm and many other baseline data to the database at that time. This data is the basis for traceability and is used to support farmers and their communities according to their needs.

Step 2: For traceability, Ricondo's bean bags are clearly labelled

When the beans are ready for transport, Ricondo packs them in bags that are clearly labelled. In this way, the beans can be assigned to the Farming Program and the respective farmers. For example, after arrival in Switzerland, we know that the beans from Ricondo are included in the delivery.

Step 3: No mixing with other cocoa beans

Even before Ricondo's beans are loaded onto a cargo ship in the port, an initial quality check takes place. If the quality is right, the bean bags end up in containers that contain only beans from the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program. This is important in order to maintain the highest level of traceability "Identity Preservation". We thus ensure that the beans from our Program are not mixed with others along the complex supply chain.

Step 4: The delivery receives its traceability certificate

Once the container is loaded and ready for the shipment, the responsible persons in the country of origin, issue a traceability certificate. Each delivery of cocoa beans is accompanied by a traceability certificate, which is sent to Lindt & Sprüngli, for example in Switzerland, and checked when the goods are later accepted. The certificate provides precise information on data such as the origin and delivered volume of the cocoa beans.

Step 5: Ship ahoy

The containers with the cocoa beans are then transported by ship to the destination ports in Europe and the USA, where our own cocoa mass factories are located, for example in Kilchberg (Switzerland).

Step 6: Turning cocoa beans into chocolate

Once they arrive at the factory, the cocoa beans are again subjected to strict controls and the information in the traceability certificate is checked. Only if the beans meet our high standards do they find their way into the cocoa mass plant.

The journey of Ricondo's harvest ends here, and the beans are processed into the finest chocolate. In line with our bean-to-bar approach, we produce our own cocoa mass, which we then process into various premium chocolate products.

Step 7: Ricondo benefits

With the sale of our chocolates, we also finance the Farming Program, among other things. Since Ricondo is part of the Program, we can support him according to his needs.

But to do so, we need to know that he exists and what he supplies to us - this is not easy to build up, because the cocoa beans' journeys around the globe are long. The further the beans travel, the more their trail threatens to fade. But thanks to our ensured traceability of our cocoa beans, we can enable support for the farmers who are actually in our supply chain. We can also ensure that the cocoa beans from the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program are used in our chocolates.

About the Author

Lindt & Sprüngli / In 2008, we have launched the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program in Ghana and in the subsequent years in all our other cocoa bean sourcing origins (Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea) to improve the livelihoods of our cocoa farmers, their families, and communities. One of our top priorities is to ensure that they are able to benefit directly from our financial support.

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