Since the launch of the UTZ cocoa program in 2009, we have focused on scaling up the market for sustainable cocoa. Mass balance has played a major role in bringing the benefits of certification to more farmers. But as sustainability steps out of the niche, what’s the future of mass balance? We caught up with Guillaume de la Ruée, Product Coordinator at UTZ.

Scaling up sustainability

The UTZ program brings big benefits to cocoa farmers: higher productivity, bigger incomes and better living conditions. Since the launch of the cocoa program in 2009, UTZ has focused on scaling up the program to extend these benefits to more farmers.

Mass balance explained - scales“One of the ways we have encouraged more companies to source UTZ certified cocoa is by offering different models of supply chain traceability, including mass balance,” says Guillaume, “and we’ve certainly achieved our goal of scaling up sustainability in to the cocoa sector.”

UTZ is now the world’s largest program for sustainable cocoa. More than 600,000 cocoa farmers were part of the UTZ program in 2016, representing around 15% of the world’s cocoa production area. In 2016 enough cocoa has been sourced as UTZ certified to make an incredible 15 billion bars of milk chocolate of 100g, and many of the world’s biggest chocolate companies have made major commitments. “It’s safe to say that sustainable cocoa is no longer a niche market!” says Guillaume.

The next step for the UTZ cocoa program

The maturity of the program means there is no longer such an urgent need to incentivize companies to source sustainable cocoa. “Now that our program has reached this level of maturity,” explains Guillaume.

We want to bring greater transparency to the program.

“It’s also very important that we align with international, multi-stakeholder sustainability initiatives such as the standard for sustainable cocoa that is in development by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Therefore two main changes to our mass balance program have been made in consultation with UTZ’s multi-stakeholder Product Advisory Committee for cocoa. Guillaume explains: “Under the mass balance system, when you buy a volume of UTZ certified cocoa, this gives you ‘credits’ which can be used to sell on a volume of conventional cocoa as UTZ certified. The credits can be used for different cocoa products.  Since 1 July 2016, it is only possible to make these conversions for products that are further down the cocoa processing chain. For example you can buy UTZ certified beans and use mass balance credits to sell conventional butter or powder as UTZ certified but not the other way around.”

Diagram visualizing cocoa processing from bean to bar

Cocoa processing from bean to bar


A stronger program for the future

“In addition, from January 2018, we are changing the conversion ratio from cocoa liquor to the other cocoa sub-products”, adds Guillaume.

“Both of these changes mean that the UTZ mass balance system will better reflect the reality of the cocoa production chain, contributing to better transparency,” says Guillaume.

By making these changes, we are strengthening our cocoa program for the future.

“These changes may impact the way companies sourcing UTZ cocoa work, and UTZ is working closely with them to ensure a smooth transition process. We are organizing Q&A webinars and our Member Support Team is, as always, available to answer any questions.”

Looking for more?

Mass balance explained -factoryDo you want to know more details about the recent and upcoming changes to the mass balance rules? Go to our mass balance member pack.

Here you also find the basics of mass balance, support in explaining the concept and tip on how to make credible claims in mass balance.