New UTZ certification for world’s biggest cocoa producers

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Utz certified Better Caffeine Chocolate

Producers in the world’s largest cocoa-producing country, Côte d’Ivoire, are taking part in the first independent audits in preparation for the UTZ Certified code of conduct; a programme that sets internationally recognised standards for responsible cocoa and coffee production and sourcing.

The UTZ Certified Good Inside ​Code of Conduct for Cocoa establishes economic, environmental and social standards that have to be met in order to qualify for UTZ Certified approval. These standards are now being independently audited at three farmer co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire.

The code aims to promote improved farming practices leading to improvements in the quality and yield of cocoa beans, better income for farmers and enhanced sustainability in the supply chain. It sets out standards on food and farm safety, the safe and efficient use of fertilisers, good labour practices, safe and healthy production practices, protection of natural resources and biodiversity and long-term productivity.

The cocoa programme has been developed over the past two years by Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Ecom Agroindustrial, Mars and the international development organisation Solidaridad.

Customers and consumers

Commenting on the launch of the audits Harold Poelma, managing director Cargill Cocoa, told “We believe that quality cocoa, grown in a sustainable way, is essential to the economies and livelihoods of farming communities in cocoa growing countries, as well as to Cargill, our customers and consumers​.

“The code of conduct, and the first independent audits of its application, are significant because they help farmers to produce more and higher quality cocoa in better circumstances for themselves and their workers and families with less damage to the environment.”

Despite global recession, Poelma believes consumers’ interest in assurance standards like UTZ Certified continues to grow. “Cargill and its partners believe that consumers are still concerned about the environmental and social costs of what they buy. Trust in brands is as vitally important as ever in this time of crisis and this is a way to ensure that​,” he said.

“The UTZ Code of Conduct lays down requirements that will help ensure that cocoa is produced in a sustainable, responsible and safe way, which we and our partners believe remains important to consumers.”

Certified sources

Mars Inc, one of the founding members, recently announced that they will source 100 per cent of its cocoa from certified sources by 2020, including UTZ Certified.

The code was developed after consultation with more than 100 cocoa stakeholders worldwide, including farmers, farmer organisations, government officials, non governmental organisations, traders, chocolate companies and other experts. The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) acted as observer in this process.

The first official version of the code is now available on​ in English, French, and Spanish.

Côte d'Ivoire is the world’s largest cocoa producer, with over 800,000 small-scale farmers and representing over 40 percent of the world’s supply.

Utz means ‘good’ in a Mayan language.

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