Over the past several years, a number of initiatives have been undertaken to improve the agronomic, economic, social, and environmental conditions of cocoa farming and the sector at large, including voluntary sustainability standards. The ISO 34101 series of standards on Sustainable and Traceable Cocoa Beans is being developed to align the structures, procedures, and criteria of the leading sustainability initiatives and establish a single international standard of reference for future initiatives. This international standard takes a system and stepwise-approach to sustainable cocoa bean production and specifies requirements for a management system, product traceability, and improved performance in areas of People, Planet, and Profit. The ISO 34101 series includes a certification scheme that specifies requirements for organizations and the process involved in certifying sustainably produced cocoa beans. A related but separate standard, ISO/DIS 2451, is also in development on cocoa bean specifications and quality requirements. Key stakeholders – farmers, government, industry, and civil society – from across the globe have come to the table to discuss and gain consensus on sustainability topics to set the ISO 34101 standard, which is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017.

Role of WCF

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), as a leading organization promoting sustainability in the cocoa sector on behalf of its industry members, recognizes the ISO process as the international platform to engage in a formal dialogue and alignment process with all cocoa sustainability standards. WCF is serving as a liaison organization whose input is uniquely recognized. As the standard development process advances, the ISO 34101 standard has arrived to an important stage of public enquiry and companies are invited to review and comment on the current draft standard.

Since the process began in 2014, multiple discussions, technical reviews, and plenaries have occurred at national and international levels to arrive to this stage. Currently, parts 1-3 of this international standard on 1) sustainability management system; 2) traceability; and 3) performance requirements related to economic, social, and environmental aspects are open for public enquiry until December 4th 2016. The public enquiry for ISO 34101 part 4 on the Certification Scheme is expected to begin in December 2016. Separately, ISO/DIS 2451 “Cocoa beans – Specification and quality requirements” will close its public enquiry on October 3rd, 2016. Interested companies are kindly invited to get involved in the process and review the current draft standard. Please contact your national ISO member to learn how to get involved.

The standard is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017.