Retailers Collaborate to End Cocoa-related Deforestation

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Author Rachel Munns

Responsible Sourcing Manager

One of the most powerful aspects of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) is its ability to bring to the table all the stakeholders who have a role to play to end deforestation: from governments to branded companies, and supply chain players and retailers. Today we speak to Rachel Munns, Responsible Sourcing Manager at Tesco, and a driving force behind the Retailer Cocoa Collaboration (RCC – comprised of a number of European retailers including three WCF members and CFI signatories: Tesco, Marks & Spencer, and Sainsbury’s), about the unique role that retailers can play, and their collective engagement.

Can retailers play a role in ending cocoa-related deforestation?

RCC members are committed to supporting CFI in an approach that is commensurate to the nature of our businesses and the profile of cocoa in our supply chains.

The Consumer Goods Forum has committed to achieving zero-net deforestation by 2020 with a focus on palm oil, soy, timber/pulp and cattle products – the leading drivers of global deforestation. In most cases these commodities are used extensively in our supply chains.

But the challenge of deforestation and sustainable land-use planning occurs in other products, including cocoa. We recognize the opportunity to strengthen the major positive reforms underway in the industry since November 2017. Many of our companies have committed to achieving sustainability via sourcing cocoa certified to standards including Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, organic, and others. While certification is a part of the solution, we also recognize that on its own, it is not sufficient to transform the industry and effectively address complex challenges such as deforestation and improved livelihoods.

We therefore strongly support CFI and the Frameworks for Action as a landmark multi-stakeholder initiative for protecting and restoring forests in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Colombia, and beyond.

As retailers, you deal with several commodities and supply chains. What have you learned from your sustainability journey?

Our experience working with other deforestation risk commodities in our supply chain has taught us some valuable lessons. First, we are convinced that collaboration provides an effective and efficient way to support change and grow our leverage. Second, we are conscious of the fact that harmonized approaches by retailers are preferred by our supply chain partners. Third, we know that there are key levers for us to drive change in our typically long and complicated commodity supply chains.

What commitments has the Retailer Cocoa Collaboration made as part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative?

We believe the most effective role we can play in supporting CFI is through engagement with our trading partners through a collaborative retailer approach. This is why we have established the RCC. Through this collaboration, companies commit to supporting CFI and the eight core commitments outlined in the Frameworks for Action by engaging with our cocoa supply chain partners to ensure they commit to the CFI and that strong progress is being made against their individual CFI Action Plans. RCC agreed actions include:

  1. Public endorsement (where appropriate) of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. This includes encouraging our traders and suppliers to commit to the 8 CFI principles as well as company specific communications.
  2. An ambition to map our collective supply chains so we know what percentage of our cocoa supply is from each trader.
  3. A commitment to assess cocoa traders’ performance against key sustainability indicators. This approach replicates that of the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition and acknowledges that the key lever for change within the cocoa supply chain for retailers is at the trading level.
  4. Following the assessment, understand how our current work on cocoa sustainability is supporting CFI. Where there are gaps, we will explore opportunities to support further.
  5. A commitment to bi-annual meetings as part of the Retailer Cocoa Collaboration.