Their mission is social as much as logistical, with as much concern about guaranteeing a long-term supply of excellent cocoa while ensuring that cocoa farmers can earn fair wages and escape poverty. Wanting to find out more, we interviewed Thomas Wiesgickl, Director of Corporate Responsibility of the company behind this mission. Cloetta is a leading confectionery company in the Nordic region, the Netherlands and Italy.
Ensuring the future of cocoa farming
Mr. Wiesgickl said: “For Cloetta, it is important to address the challenges that the cocoa farmers face in West Africa. By taking further sustainability aspects into the company’s cocoa sourcing strategy, Cloetta creates a platform for securing high quality raw materials to the factories while simultaneously providing possibilities for West African farmers to develop a sustainable business. If we don’t, there is a risk of not getting enough cocoa in the future.”
Since 2014, 100% of the cocoa sourced by Cloetta is UTZ certified even though the logo may or may not appear on an individual chocolate product. The decision to carry the logo is left up to the individual local marketing departments. UTZ cocoa was part of the sustainability strategy that went into effect at Cloetta after their merger with Leaf in 2012, leading to the creation of Scandinavia’s largest confectionery company.
The newly merged company developed a new code of conduct in 2012. Described on Cloetta’s website: ‘The Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines and principles for how we do business. It builds on Cloetta’s core values: Focus, Passion, Team play and Pride.’
Cloetta places rigorous demands on its suppliers. As part of this work, Cloetta has broken down the general code of conduct to a specific code that suppliers must follow. This led to a new sustainability strategy in 2013 and Cloetta’s commitment to sourcing 100% UTZ certified cocoa by the end of 2014.
Everyone on board
When asked about the most difficult challenge to overcome in switching sustainability strategies so completely, Mr. Wiesgickl stated that “it was not difficult at all. No big discussion and there was full boardroom support. Everyone was on board from the beginning.”
The reason for this was that there was a great deal of anxiety developing in the confectionery industry that the cocoa supply was really in danger of declining quantity and that quality could fall quite seriously along with volume of supply from the countries of origin.
In addition, it was apparently a good solution to concerns about impoverished cocoa farmers. UTZ provided an all-around good solution to these concerns with its sustainability standards, especially the productivity aspects. It was “a good way to address poverty of cocoa farmers.”
How does this affect their future strategy? Cloetta plans to continue the same route with UTZ and hopes that UTZ will grow and become even more effective in the market.
Mass balance is the big draw
Being able to source via mass balance calculated strongly in Cloetta’s decision to work with UTZ. The mass balance system assures that a sufficient volume of sustainable cocoa is sourced from UTZ certified farms to cover the production of a certain product, although it may not necessarily end up in the product.
Compared to other less cost-effective systems such as segregation where the certified beans are kept separate from non-certified beans, the mass balance approach offers scalability and makes sustainably produced cocoa affordable for everyone. Furthermore, the potential to scale up sustainable cocoa sourcing means that as many farmers as possible benefit from being part of the UTZ program.
For Cloetta, the big decision to switch to a long-term cocoa sustainability strategy came fairly easily. Sustained demand for responsibly produced cocoa leads to a greater chance for the overall sustainability of chocolate for generations to come.