For this business case, we caught up with Leigh Pezzicara, Sustainability Marketing Manager at Switzerland’s chocolate giant, Barry Callebaut. We asked her what she thought of the changing landscape of the European chocolate market and how countries like Belgium are seeing an increase in demand for sustainable products.

Barry Callebaut, headquartered in Zurich, is the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate producer with 53 factories and over 9000 employees. They joined UTZ in 2009. Along with other programs including their own internal line, they seek to source responsibly grown cocoa for their products. In the last year, they switched their gourmet Swiss chocolate brand Carma to UTZ certified cocoa.Carma chocolate couvertures UTZ certified

Sustainability is one of the four pillars of Barry Callebaut’s corporate strategy, ranking in importance with Expansion, Innovation and Cost Leadership.

We asked Leigh Pezzicara a few questions about how she sees the growth of the sustainable cocoa industry.

Which countries do you see as frontrunners in sustainable cocoa sourcing at the moment?

Molded Chocolate blocks in Barry Callebaut factory

© Barry Callebaut

There is an increase in interest and demand for sustainable cocoa throughout Western Europe and the Americas. For example, the UK is an advanced market when it comes to sustainable products and we see the demand continuing to grow.”

Which are runners up? For example, although there is little interest from government or NGOs on regulating the issue in Belgium, we still see an obviously increasing demand for sustainable products. How does Barry Callebaut see this developing in Belgium?

The demand in Belgium, as we see in other Western European countries, is growing, as is the knowledge of the consumer. This issue is gaining in importance for consumers and their expectations are high for responsibility to be taken by the brands they trust.”

Overall, what’s the added value for companies to Cocoa_IvoryCoast_generalsource sustainably?

Companies rely upon a continuous supply of quality raw materials (i.e. cocoa) to sustain their business. In our case, this requires farmers on the ground to have a respectable livelihood so that the next generation sees a future in cocoa farming. So investing in sustainable cocoa is an imperative for the future cocoa supply. Additionally, sustainable products are growing faster than the global market, so they represent a growth driver. Sustainable practices also improve a company’s reputation in the marketplace, workplace and society.”

Sustainable practices improve a company’s reputation in the marketplace, workplace and society.

Where do you see UTZ’s role in this?

Barry Callebaut factory, Brazil.

Chocolate factory, Brazil. © Barry Callebaut

Certifiers of sustainable products have a central role to play in the implementation and marketing of sustainable products, in order to increase awareness on the challenges and provide a platform to implement solutions. UTZ is an important player among the sustainable cocoa actors.”

Thanks for your time. Great to hear sustainability is a central part of your strategy. We look forward to many more years of collaboration. 

It is through the sustainability-minded actions of large companies such as Barry Callebaut that UTZ can expand its positive impact on the lives of cocoa producers and the quality of beans produced across the globe. While some markets are more developed than others, we look towards a future where sustainability will become the norm and responsible sourcing takes its place as one of the pillars of corporate strategy everywhere.

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