From Denmark to Ghana, We all have a Role to Play to Save Rainforests

Author Lea Sørensen Holm

CSR & Communications Manager
Toms Group
Photo by Toms Group

The Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) is about fighting cocoa-related deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana with collective action. Each forest counts, and each company using cocoa in their supply chain must play their part, as demonstrated by Denmark-based Toms Group, a multi-brand confectionery company with a long-standing commitment to sustainability. With 1,100 employees, Toms is a leading medium-sized company, a sustainability frontrunner and active WCF member since 2004. We catch up with Lea Holm to discuss Toms’ Cocoa & Forests Initiative engagement.

  1. What is Toms Group’s overall vision to end deforestation in its cocoa supply chain?

We strive to take a holistic approach to sustainability in our supply chain. We are therefore committed to protect and ensure sustainable usage of Earth’s resources and to act with respect for human rights. Our primary focus is on cocoa and palm oil. We have worked for more than a decade on sustainable cocoa and achieved great results.

Photo by Toms Group

Toms Group joined the Cocoa & Forests Initiative to find a structural solution to deforestation in the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The Frameworks for Action are truly unique, as there is no other commodity for which governments, industry and NGOs have come together to agree on concrete measures to eradicate deforestation.

Cocoa-related deforestation in West Africa is caused by a combination of factors, including cocoa farmer poverty, climate change, low yields and challenges in enforcing forest protection laws. For long-term solutions, all stakeholders must work together, and CFI offers the collaborative platform for industry, governments and other stakeholders to achieve a 100% sustainable cocoa supply chain.

  1. What concrete steps will Toms Group take to fulfill your Cocoa & Forests Initiative engagement?

We have already released our action plan and intend on finishing mapping farms, conducting deforestation risk assessment and halting sourcing activities from farms identified within Forest Reserve areas by the end of 2019. As part of our Toms Sustainable Cocoa Sourcing Program, we will train 4,800 farmers in 2019 on climate smart agricultural practices and continue our farm rehabilitation and management services, which is in the process of rehabilitating a total area of 15.5 acres (6.3 hectares).

Photo by Toms Group

Furthermore, in 2019 we will distribute 70,000 multipurpose trees for farm restoration. And we will put in place activities to promote sustainable production & livelihoods such as additional livelihood training programs, distribution of 165,550 cocoa seedlings and establishment of 24 community-based nurseries.

For community empowerment, we have committed to organize consultations on the implementation of the Frameworks for Action in 112 communities. Furthermore, we are continuing our work on organizing and empowering community-based committees for child labor monitoring and remediation.

  1. What is your message for other medium-size cocoa and chocolate companies?

At Toms, we think that all the stakeholders involved in the cocoa supply chain have an important role to play to combat the vital threat of deforestation. With WCF and the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, medium companies like Toms Group have a unique opportunity to join in collective action with global and local brands, supply chain players, retailers and governments. Together, the 33 companies involved in CFI represent 85% of the global supply chain. The first two countries targeted by the Cocoa & Forests Initiative – Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – jointly grow 65% of the world’s cocoa supply.

We have ambitious goals and we know that cross-industry cooperation is the key to lasting, sustainable changes. Therefore, we are proud to be part of this learning journey with the other Cocoa & Forests Initiative signatories.