Deforestation Continues Because Companies Aren't Trying

A new assessment released by Climate Focus has found that an area of tree cover the size of the United Kingdom was lost every year between 2014 and 2018. The assessment suggests that achieving the 2020 New York Declaration on Forests targets is now likely impossible. In response to the new report, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Forests are burning in large measure because the big companies that committed to save them are not actually trying to do so. Companies like Ahold Delhaize, McDonald’s, and Mars are, despite all their pledges, continuing to do business on a vast scale with the very companies most responsible for this deforestation, such as Cargill and JBS. Not only are these companies directly financing deforestation, they have repeatedly lobbied governments to stop basic environmental protections. Nobody doing business with Cargill and JBS can credibly say they are concerned about deforestation.

"The tragedy of these findings is that they also demonstrate that success is possible. Companies can achieve dramatic progress when they actually make an effort. These same companies have largely, though imperfectly, enforced their no deforestation polices in the palm oil industry, and the results on the ground show it: deforestation for palm oil has declined from 1 million acres a year to 200,000 acres per year. This is, of course, still 200,000 acres of deforestation too many, but it also shows real progress is possible."

Additional resources:


Companies Support Higher Cocoa Prices for Farmers

Companies Support Higher Cocoa Prices for Farmers

Mighty Earth collected statements from industry with varying level of support for the much-needed price increase for cocoa to protect farmers. While we do not in any way endorse these statements, they serve to debunk the notion that industry will not support a price increase.

We call on companies which have yet to publicly commit to paying a better price –  such as Nestle, Sucden, Fuji Oils, and Pladis – to do so forthwith.

We hope this encourages other producer countries to set a price floor, like Cameroon, Nigeria, Indonesia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Peru. We ask all producer countries’ cocoa regulatory bodes to commit to ensuring all cocoa farmers earn a living income, worldwide.

Efforts must not be limited to supporting Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana but must aim at ensuring a minimum price for cocoa farmers across the globe.

Alter Eco: “Alter Eco fully supports the efforts of the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to increase the price of cocoa. We in fact would support them moving beyond $2,700 FOB to the price necessary to guarantee cocoa farmers a living income. Indeed, we also call on other cocoa producing countries to do the same. Alter Eco sources amongst others from Ecuador and we would warmly welcome any Ecuadorean move to match the Ivorian and Ghanaian courageous initiative to improve farmer livelihoods. We would support a global floor price. Our preference would be for that floor price to go directly into the pockets of famers, with transparency and traceability to ensure those who need it most are receiving this improved price. Moreover all our cocoa is deforestation-free and all of our volumes are heading towards agroforestry – as we are aware that a commodity price increase can trigger deforestation, so we call on all governments and companies supporting a floor price to simultaneously crack down on deforestation in their supply chains and embrace robust agroforestry everywhere. Let’s welcome the positive developments in West Africa and look towards all companies and producer countries to move the positive agenda forward rapidly.”

Barry Callebaut: “It is the execution on this topic, which matters tremendously. It is a fact that the floor price will be implemented by the Ghanaian and Ivorian government. We agree to that principle, but next to the opportunities there are risks. The Barry Callebaut statement is a reflection of the conditions that have to be fulfilled in order for the floor price to have the intended results for farmers, and not lead to further deforestation.” “As the biggest buyer of cocoa in the world we welcome the initiative of the Ivory Coast and Ghana governments to support cocoa farmer income. We are therefore already working with the government and other companies to have a smooth implementation of the living income differential. We remain committed to continue to lead on sustainability as defined by our Forever Chocolate objectives and this does not change, if anything continues to gather momentum. All this does not preclude the fact that in the living income differential discussions there has been little space to embrace much needed discussions on some potential risks highlighted on sustainability. This does not diminish our commitment to sustainability but our responsibility as a sustainable operator focused on impact is to highlight challenges of a changing environment.”

Blommer: “Recently, the Governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire engaged the cocoa and chocolate industry in a series of meetings to discuss options around new pricing structures aimed at providing cocoa farmers greater value for their cocoa. Blommer believes that cocoa farmers should earn sufficient income to ensure a decent standard of living. Through our Sustainable Origins platform we are working closely with producing governments, farmer organizations, and other development partners on many initiatives to catalyze the transformation of traditional farms into diversified, sustainable, and profitable businesses. These efforts are also necessary to boost farmer income but they may not be enough without increased remuneration to farmers for their crop. We therefore support the overall goal of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to increase farmer remuneration. Developing new and innovative methods to achieve this should remain a priority while maintaining a continued focus on the critical work being done under the industry’s sustainability activities. We look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration with Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to ensure a sustainable and thriving cocoa sector – where farmers prosper, cocoa-growing communities are empowered, human rights are respected, and the environment is conserved.”

Image result for fuji oil logo

Fuji Oil: “Blommer’s statement on this subject covers not only Blommer but also the whole FUJI OIL Group.”

Cargill: “Cargill s’engage de manière durable auprès des agriculteurs et de gouvernements ivoiriens et ghanéens. Chez Cargill (, nous partageons l’ambition, exprimée par les gouvernements de la Côte d’Ivoire et du Ghana, d’améliorer le revenu des producteurs de cacao et d’assurer la durabilité à long terme du secteur. Nous saluons la volonté des deux gouvernements, d’établir un prix plancher minimum pour les fèves de cacao et affirmons notre engagement à faire davantage pour veiller à ce que cette mesure permette d’accroitre de façon durable les revenus des agriculteurs. Nous sommes impatients de collaborer étroitement avec le Conseil Café Cacao et le Cocobod afin de réaliser des changements positifs fondamentaux dans le secteur du cacao.” [Unofficial translation: Cargill is making a long-term commitment to Ivorian and Ghanaian farmers and governments. At Cargill (, we share the ambition of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to improve the income of cocoa farmers and ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector. We applaud the willingness of both governments to set a minimum floor price for cocoa beans and affirm our commitment to do more to ensure that this measure leads to sustainable increases in farmers’ incomes. We look forward to working closely with the Coffee Cocoa Council and Cocobod to achieve fundamental positive changes in the cocoa sector.]

ECOM: “ECOM welcomes any initiative working towards ensuring a decent standard of living for cocoa farmers. We look forward to our continued discussions with the Conseil Café Cacao of Côte d’Ivoire, Cocobod of Ghana and other industry players to ensure a sustainable and thriving cocoa sector. We are currently awaiting additional information that will be shared by the two governments regarding details of the mechanism.”

Fair Trade: on the 1st of October 2019, Fairtrade is raising its Minimum Price for conventional cocoa to $2,400 per metric ton, and is raising its Premium for Fairtrade cocoa to $240 per metric ton. For organic cocoa, the Fairtrade Minimum Price will be $2,700. As of this writing, and Unlike UTZ/Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade is the only certification scheme with a global mandatory minimum price (although it still falls short of the Fair Trade Living Income Reference Price). When the market price rises higher than the Fairtrade Minimum Price, producers will receive market prices.

Ferrero: “Ferrero welcomes any efforts of the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana to relieve cocoa farmer poverty as we believe that cocoa farmers should earn sufficient income to ensure a decent standard of living. Any efforts should also tackle the broader development challenges in cocoa growing communities, including child labor and deforestation.”

Godiva: “GODIVA supports any efforts to lift cocoa growing communities in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana out of poverty, and protect the future of cocoa farming and farmers.”

Halba: “We fully support the new floor price announced by Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The payment of such a price is already a great step forward.” We would appreciate it very much, if at least 70 – 80% of that price would reach the farmer.

Hershey: “At Hershey, we have long supported initiatives that improve the livelihoods of farmers. Cocoa farmers should be able to support their families and earn a decent standard of living and we support the goal of raising farmer incomes. Hershey, along with the entire industry, will be working with these governments to further understand their proposals to increase farmer incomes. Any plans would need to be implemented carefully to ensure they do not create imbalances in the long-term supply of cocoa that could result in surpluses and destabilize the market, which ultimately hurts farmers. The plans also need to guard against new production on protected forest land. We want to work together with the governments to see an increased share of the global cocoa price transferred to farmers through the government-regulated farmgate price. These are complicated, but important issues. We look forward to joining with the rest of the industry to continue these discussions with the governments and other partners to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and the sustainability of cocoa farming long into the future.”

Lindt & Sprüngli: “Our sustainable cocoa program – the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program – aims at decent and resilient livelihoods of todays and future cocoa farmers and their families. While increased farm gate prices are an important measure to improve livelihoods, we follow a holistic approach to increase the net-income of cocoa farming households delivering to us, which includes a sustainable intensification of cocoa cultivation, the creation of additional income sources, a stabilization of cash flow and secured income, as well as the improvement of community infrastructure. Especially Ghana is an important origin for us. We therefore support the Governments’ efforts to contribute to improved cocoa livelihoods, and will follow the developments closely.”

Mars: “U.S. food maker Mars Inc. supports a decision by Ivory Coast and Ghana to set a floor price for their cocoa exports, a senior executive told Reuters on Wednesday, becoming one of the first major chocolate companies to back the initiative. ‘We support moves by governments to intervene to achieve a higher price that leads to a sustainable increase paid to the farmer and is supported with governance to ensure there is no further expansion of land use to grow cocoa,’ Ament said. ‘Initiatives to boost productivity, improvements in social services and infrastructure, and exploration of alternative incomes are necessary, but they will likely not be enough without an increase in the price farmers receive for their crop,’ Ament said.”

Mondelez: “We believe cocoa farmers should earn sufficient income to provide a decent standard of living today as well as to safeguard the sustainable future livelihoods for the cocoa farmers of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. With Cocoa Life, our holistic cocoa sustainability program, we work on the ground, with the cocoa farmers and our partners to tackle the complex challenges that cocoa growing communities face. Partnerships are key to creating the right environment for lasting change. We welcome the Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire’s governments’ efforts to address cocoa farmer income through the Living Income Differential as an important building block to achieve a sustainable livelihood from cocoa. We also believe this is a unique opportunity to create the necessary partnerships to ensure the long-term beneficial effect of the new pricing approach and look forward to collaborating with both governments to ensure no further deforestation will take place and human rights will be protected. A sector-wide strategy with coordinated actions by all stakeholders of the value chain is needed to catalyze the transformation of cocoa farming into modern, sustainable, and profitable businesses that provide sustainable livelihoods for cocoa growing families.”

Olam“Olam Cocoa is committed to improving the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and communities, and to preventing forest degradation. We share the ambition of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to establish a pricing structure which guarantees a minimum price for cocoa farmers, and strengthens progress towards a sustainable cocoa supply chain that improves farmer livelihoods and protects forests. You can see more of what we’re doing to tackle farmer poverty and its associated ills, in our last Cocoa Sustainability Report – as of the end of last year we had nearly 230,000 cocoa farmers enrolled in programmes to support their livelihoods, including 43,000 new farmers in 2018.”

Uncommon Cacao: “At Uncommon Cacao, we believe farmer prosperity is a key ingredient in good chocolate. Transparent, sustainable prices for both farmers and exporters that cover costs of production are an important factor in enabling producers to earn at least a living income from their cacao farm. We support country- and context-specific export price floors, as long as they are tied to transparent farmgate price floors, are based on impartial research and cross-sector collaboration, and seek to improve farmer prosperity. We encourage all cacao market actors to always consider these prices as floors and never ceilings. The price floor announced by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire and the Living Income Differential are key steps towards creating better outcomes for farmers and the industry, but we still see this as just the beginning. Cacao farmer prosperity depends on the commitment of producers, governments, intermediaries and chocolate companies to pay more for cacao and catalyze broader systems change.”

Tony’s Chocolonely: Tony’s Chocolonely exists to change the cocoa industry. Without paying a higher price, the chocolate industry will never solve issues in their supply chain and live up to their commitment in the Harkin Engel Protocol. Chocolate companies should be asked the simple question: How much profit are you willing to take, at the expense of a living income for farmers. Perpetuating extreme poverty, leads to modern slavery, illegal child labour and deforestation. It’s a matter of choice, as simple as that. Tony’s commits to more than just a minimum price. On top of the farmgate price and the Fairtrade premium, we pay an additional premium up to the living income reference price – the new industry benchmark. We pay this higher price as part of our 5 sourcing principles (higher price, strong farmers, productivity and diversification, long term commitments, 100% traceability). And we share our model, knowledge and network Tony’s Chocolonely exists to change the inequality in the system and we invite all others to join, cause only together we will make the whole chocolate industry 100% slavefree.

Florence Pradier, secrétaire générale du syndicat français du chocolat: « Nous sommes d’accord pour réduire la pauvreté des planteurs, mais si nous mettons la main à la poche, c’est pour s’assurer qu’au moins 70 % des 2 600 dollars la tonne promis aillent aux planteurs ». [Translation: We agree to reduce the poverty of the planters, but if we put our hands in our pockets, it is to ensure that at least 70% of the $ 2,600 a tonne promised goes to the planters.]

Cemoi:Of course we support minimum price !« Pour notre part, nous partageons l’avis des gouvernements de la Côte d’Ivoire et du Ghana selon lequel le prix du cacao est un facteur déterminant du revenu des planteurs. Nous partageons l’objectif d’une culture plus durable du cacao et soutenons la hausse des prix au planteur et cela va dans le sens de notre programme Transparence Cacao dont l’un des axes principaux est l’amélioration de la qualité de vie du planteur par une rémunération plus juste ».  [Translation: For our part, we share the opinion of the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana that the price of cocoa is a determining factor in the income of farmers. We share the goal of a more sustainable cocoa crop and support the increase of prices to the planter. This is in line with where our program is headed, called Transparency Cocoa, of which a main focus is improving the quality of life of planters with fairer remuneration.]

Image result for valrhona logoValhrona:Valrhona welcomes the commitment of the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments to improve farmers’ income through the establishment of a floor price. We are keen for this this initiative to feed into a wider goal to improve the lives of farmers and their families. However, as time is of the essence, we are also taking action directly. It was unacceptable to us, for example, that farmers would see their incomes slashed as a result of the sudden drop in price on the global market in 2016-17, which is why ever since 2017 we have established a minimum guaranteed farmgate price of 1100 FCFA for our producers in Côte d’Ivoire. This represents approximately 51% more than the minimum price guaranteed by the Ivorian state.  We continue to maintain all of our quality, traceability and community development premiums and to intensify our support to improve living conditions, access to education and training. This measure is a first step towards our goal to enable farming families to earn a living income in the 16 producing countries with which we have long-term partnerships. We continue our work to create a fair and sustainable cocoa sector and support any efforts towards achieving this. We as such welcome the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments initiative and look forward to future developments across the sector.”

Image result for sucden logoSucden: “Sucden strongly supports programs that result in cocoa farmers receiving a fair price for their cocoa and greater incomes for their efforts. We implement direct assistance to farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to achieve greater income from improved sustainable farming methods.

We have actively supported the implementation of the Living Income Differential initiative of the CCC and CMC by purchasing cocoa that includes the LID. We continue to support mechanisms that allow farmers a fair price and improve farmer incomes, while also preventing deforestation, forced and child labour.”

Standing up for forests and farmers

Mighty Earth applauds the government of Cote d’Ivoire for seeking to better protect its forests and for its willingness to move towards a greener future, putting behind the bitter past of losing 85 percent of its forests since 1990. Likewise, we welcome positive elements in the new Ivorian forest code, recently adopted by the Ivorian National Assembly.

However—we are gravely concerned by the implications of mass evictions from parks and protected areas.  Incentivized by decades of the $100-billion-a-year chocolate industry turning a bind eye to forest destruction and funding illegal cocoa production in these areas, 1.5 - 2 million people thought to be living illegally in the parks and protected areas of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana

In its declaration, the Ministre des Eaux et Forêts was clear that protected areas will be emptied of their inhabitants.

We call urgently for the recognition and respect of the human rights of these  inhabitants. These people have rights and must be protected from abuses.

Published below is our recent Joint Human Rights Watch-Mighty Earth Cote d'Ivoire Dispatch regarding the urgent need to guarantee the human rights of illegal cocoa farmers. Also below is  a 2018 open letter, co-signed by Mighty Earth, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Le Regroupement des Acteurs Ivoiriens des Droits de l'Homme(RAIDH), and Fern, regarding egregious abuses of illegal cocoa farmers inside the Ivorian national park of Marahoue.

This previously unpublished letter presents the findings of a joint investigation to the government of Cote d’Ivoire.  Following unsuccessful negotiations with the government, led by senior environmental advisor to the president, Dr. Mamadou Fofana, authorities declared that the government of Cote d’Ivoire would refuse to hold any perpetrators accountable or to compensate victims in any way. Given the risks that farmers now face, the Marahoue case has renewed relevance, and so we publish it today, along with videos and photos taken during the Marahoue field investigation.

We call on the Ivorian authorities to protect human rights and allow independent civil society monitors to observe any actions taken. In parallel, we call upon the chocolate industry to create a humanitarian aid fund to compensate farmers who are expelled from parks and protected areas. Having created the conditions leading to the illegal occupations of these areas the industry has a moral responsibility to finance solutions, and assist expelled farmers in rebuilding their lives.

Farmers Face New Round of Eviction from Protected Forests in Côte d’Ivoire

Government Should Ensure Small-Scale Farmers Receive Adequate Notice, Compensation

Jim Wormington, Researcher, Human Rights Watch
Etelle Higonnet, Campaign and Legal Director, Mighty Earth

Côte d’Ivoire, fighting widespread and rapidly advancing deforestation, is embarking on an ambitious plan to reclaim and rehabilitate its forests. As it moves to protect a key national resource, the government needs to be careful not to trample of the rights of the thousands of small-scale farmers now facing eviction.

Côte d’Ivoire has seen its forest decline from 50 percent of its territory in 1900 to less than 12 percent in 2015. Much of the deforestation has been driven by Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry – the world’s biggest – with the government estimating between 30 and 40 percent of cocoa comes from protected forests. Most cocoa is produced by small-scale farmers who receive only a fraction of the profits from crop sales.

In June 2018, Côte d’Ivoire published a new forestry policy that would convert most of its decimated protected forests to Agro-Forests, with multinational companies – mostly from the lucrative global chocolate industry – responsible for developing sustainable agroforestry cocoa farming methods. For the remaining forests, the Ministry for Water and Forests proposes to strictly enforce long-neglected laws banning farming and occupying protected forests and national parks.

The implementation of the new forestry policy will likely result in the evictions of thousands of small-scale cocoa farmers, with an estimated 1.5 to 2 million cocoa farmers living in protected forests and national parks in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring Ghana. The Ivorian protected forest of Scio, for example, where thousands of people live, reportedly received notice of an eviction operation planned for July.

Although the Ivorian government has the right to reclaim forests intended for conservation, international law protects anyone who occupies land from forced evictions that do not respect the dignity and rights of those affected, regardless of where they are living.

Past eviction operations in Côte d’Ivoire have left farmers’ families without adequate shelter, food, and education, and we have documented extortion, corruption, and physical abuses committed by government agents conducting evictions. In an October 2017 letter on the creation of Agro-Forests, we also warned that large agricultural companies often fail to protect the rights of small-scale farmers, especially when national regulations are unclear or not enforced.

The Ivorian government is right to want to protect and rehabilitate forests. But it should ensure that evictions are only used as a last resort and farmers receive adequate notice, compensation for property and crops, and assistance finding new land or obtaining new livelihoods. Measures to protect the environment, such as the protection of protected forests, should be implemented while respecting the rights of those who live in the area.

This piece is crossposted from Human Rights Watch

More photos and videos.

Read Marahoue letter in French here.

Read Marahoue letter in English here.

Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

New report documents US-based agribusiness giant’s “ineptitude and incoherence at a grand scale.”

This press release is available in French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and German.

July 11, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth announced today that it had named Minnesota-based Cargill as the “Worst Company in the World” due to its unscrupulous business practices, environmental destruction, and repeated insistence on standing in the way of global progress on sustainability. Mighty Earth’s new report, “Cargill: The Worst Company in the World,” documents decades of bad acts by the company and highlights the need for urgent action. The report is available in Spanish, Dutch, French, Portuguese and German.

“In my 40-year long career in Congress, I took on a range of companies that engaged in abusive practices,” former congressman and Mighty Earth Chairman Henry Waxman writes in the report. “I have seen firsthand the harmful impact of businesses that do not bring their ethics with them to work. But Cargill stands out.”

“As one of the largest companies in the world, Cargill has a responsibility to address its outsized impact,” Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz said. “Mighty Earth runs campaigns around the globe to advocate for sustainable business practices, and Cargill kept showing up when our investigations identified bad actors. Whether we were working on palm oil in Southeast Asia, cocoa farming in West Africa, or soy cultivation in South America, Cargill was always there, ready to thwart progress and impede joint conservation efforts. Given their ubiquity and obstinance, we decided it was time to take a closer look at their checkered past.”

For months, Mighty Earth has engaged in discussions with Cargill, including at the CEO level, to address the report’s findings and seek long-term solutions. Mighty Earth has served as a key convener for other sectors – including rubber, chocolate, and palm oil – as those companies sought to improve their environmental standards and impacts. However, Cargill has refused, time and time again, to substantively address the problems Mighty Earth identified. Instead, Cargill continues to prioritize the deforesters in its supply chains over the climate or their customers’ sustainability demands.

“In press releases and public statements, the agribusiness giant Cargill presents itself as frustrated with deforestation, as though it were some externality they have no control over, like bad weather,” Hurowitz said. “But deforestation isn’t something that’s happening to Cargill, it’s something that Cargill is doing.”

Mighty Earth’s new report identifies Ahold Delhaize – an international supermarket giant that owns Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, and many other brands – as a key customer of Cargill that could take immediate action. Ahold Delhaize, despite its own corporate sustainability pledges, recently broke ground on a new meat packaging facility in Rhode Island as a joint venture with Cargill.

“It’s important for Ahold Delhaize and other Cargill customers to set new sourcing standards that eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. They have the power to force Cargill’s hand, but continued inaction makes them complicit in Cargill’s malfeasance,” said Mighty Earth Senior Director for Forests Mat Jacobson. “Cargill has only gotten away with its bad behavior for so long because it is not a consumer-facing brand. But if folks knew the food they get at McDonald’s, Stop & Shop, or Target was destroying the rainforests or had been produced with child slavery, they’d be shocked.”

The release of Mighty Earth’s groundbreaking report kicks-off a multimillion-dollar, multi-year campaign targeting Cargill and its customers that will urge the agribusiness giant to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from its supply chain. To launch the campaign, local Mighty Earth activists and allies including Minnesota Clean Water Action honored Cargill for its dubious distinction with a rally outside Cargill headquarters in Minnesota at which it awarded the company a “thumbs down” placard.

About the Report

Major findings:

  • Cargill is poised to further wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems in Brazil, taking advantage of President Bolsonaro’s rollback of vital environmental protections. In 2014, Cargill pledged to end deforestation for all commodities in its supply chain by 2020. With just one year left, Cargill has continued to incentivize deforestation, remained one of the worst actors on the world stage, and now stands poised to embrace the dawning of a Bolsonaro-era free-for-all in Brazil’s forests.
  • In November 2017, Cargill was fined $10 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for years of deliberately misreporting its trade values – by up to 90 percent – in order to defraud both the government and its trading partners. In October 2018, David Dines, the Cargill executive responsible for these violations, was promoted to Chief Financial Officer.
  • Indigenous peoples who depend on forests have had their land encroached upon by Cargill-linked soy plantations in Brazil. They have been forced off of their traditional lands and have experienced sharp increases in cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and other illnesses linked to pesticides and herbicides used to grow soy – often sprayed by planes directly overhead.
  • Cargill is one of the top ten polluters in the US food industry for more than a dozen pollutants, including formaldehyde, lead, asbestos, hydrogen cyanide, and mercury.

Photo and video assets relating to the report and Cargill’s operations across different commodities are available for media.

Contact: Alex Armstrong, [email protected]

Meet "Chocopec" - Can a new minimum price give cocoa farmers a living income?

Mighty Earth welcomes efforts to raise incomes for cocoa smallholders, but calls for a higher bar, measures to protect farmers, and inclusion of farmers in negotiations

Last week, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana banded together and announced they would set a minimum price for cocoa in a bid to finally give cocoa farmers a living income. The two West African countries, which supply around 65 percent of the world’s cocoa, declared they would set a floor price of $2,600 per metric tonne of cocoa beans.

If implemented correctly, a minimum price could protect farmers from dire poverty and fluctuations in the cocoa market, like when the price of cocoa abruptly fell by 30 percent three years ago, leaving many farmers struggling desperately.

Mighty Earth calls on each and every cocoa trader and chocolate manufacturer to stand up and be counted at this critical juncture, and commit to paying a just price for cocoa, one that guarantees cocoa farmers a living income and a life of dignity. We also call on certification bodies like the Rainforest Alliance to put in place matching minimum pricing, and address the living income problem as explained in this position paper by the Voice network, of which Mighty Earth is a member.

Mighty Earth stands firmly for a living income, and like the ICCO we hope the minimum price will be set higher than $2,600. We decry the fact that cocoa farmers typically earn less than $1 per day as an injustice. To quote Bryan Stevenson: “the opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.”

Timing will be key. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana finally got tough with the $100 billion industry on June 11-12, declaring that they are suspending forward sales of cocoa beans for 2020-1 until their floor price of US$2,600 is met. A technical committee meeting will be held in Abidjan on July 3 to work out the modalities. The clock is now ticking for chocolate companies to make their pledges before July 3 and commit to paying a minimum price.

Currently, cocoa farmers’ income is low compared to the profit made by the chocolate industry:

Cocoa cultivation has been synonymous with extreme poverty, is widely associated with child labor, trafficking, and slavery, and has resulted in significant destruction of ancient rainforests, including illegal deforestation inside national parks. A Fairtrade study in April 2018 showed that 58 percent of Fairtrade certified cocoa farming households in Côte d’Ivoire had incomes below the extreme poverty line. Economic hardship is a major reason why roughly 2.1 million children work in cocoa, 96 percent of whom are thought to be in hazardous labor, according to a 2015 study by researchers at Tulane University. A new study published this month by researchers at University of Arkansas and Kansas State University calculated that Ghana could keep children out of cocoa by increasing the price farmers receive by about 50 percent, but that paying even just 3 percent more could potentially stop children from engaging in the most hazardous tasks, like using machetes.

Mighty Earth is not alone in wanting to see a floor price. Fairtrade also welcomed the decision by Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. “We believe in sharing the benefits of trade more equally, and welcome this move by the governments to shore up cocoa farmers’ incomes” said Jon Walker, Fairtrade International’s Senior Advisor for Cocoa. In October 2019, Fairtrade International announced its minimum price for cocoa would increase by 20 percent to $2,400 per metric tonne. The ICCO director Michel Arrion welcomed the development though he expressed surprise that the floor was too low, since a floor price of US$2,600 is not enough to achieve a living income.

Mighty Earth appreciates the World Cocoa Foundation current position that member companies are encouraged to see an increased share of the global cocoa price transferred to farmers in the government-regulated farmgate price – and Mighty calls on the WCF and its member companies to now agree to pay a fair price for cocoa.

Ultimately though, the devil is in the details. When implementation of a floor price is mapped out, farmers must be the ultimate beneficiaries – not middlemen or the authorities. Farmers need not only a floor price, but also increased public sector investment in transportation, logistics, and trade-related infrastructure, development help for farming communities, better access to education and health, and transparency in government services. Most of all, farmers must be consulted fairly, transparently, and respectfully. Mighty Earth shares the World Cocoa Farmers Organization’s concern that cocoa farmers, whose lives are at stake, were not duly involved during deliberations leading up to the Ivorian and Ghanaian decision about a floor price. Mighty Earth also calls on governmental authorities and aid agencies to ensure that the suspension of cocoa sales does not negatively impact lives of millions of cocoa farmers, pending the industry agreeing to producer country demands. No one wants farmers and their families to go hungry, or for the industry to be able to use farmers’ misery as a hostage, in negotiations around a floor price.

Going forward it will also be key to ensure that increased prices don’t incentivize further conversion of forest land for cocoa production by Ivorian and Ghanaian smallholder farmers. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have already lost over 90 percent of their forests, and in 2018 had the two most severe increases in rates deforestation worldwide. What little forests remain must be vigilantly protected for future generations.


Ghanian NGOs: 

Cameroonian NGOs:


International NGOs

Time for the European Union to act to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector

A letter to Vice-President Jyrki Tapani Katainen:

Following the release of highly concerning data from the Global Forest Watch, we—the undersigned organisations working in the fields of environment, human rights, and agriculture—urge you to take action to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector. As the world’s largest importer of cocoa, the European Union has the duty to act.  Your forthcoming “Communication on Stepping up EU Action on Deforestation & Forest Degradation” must include steps to regulate commodities driving deforestation, with cocoa presenting a particularly urgent case.

The recently released Global Forest Watch satellite data reveal that 2018 had the fourth highest rate of forest loss since records began in 2001 - 3.6 million hectares of primary forest disappeared, an area the size of Belgium.

Forest loss shot up the most dramatically in two West African countries: Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. In Ghana, deforestation increased by 60% in 2018, and in Côte d’Ivoire by 26%. Ghana had the highest increase in deforestation in the world last year, with Cote d’Ivoire coming in second.

These two countries have something else in common: they are the world’s two main producers of cocoa, together responsible for around 60% of global supply. 60% of this cocoa is exported to the EU.

Cocoa is known to be a leading cause of deforestation in Ghana & Côte d’Ivoire. Much of this deforestation is also illegal: according to satellite maps, about 30% of Ivorian cocoa is grown in illegally cleared national parks and protected areas. A large quantity of Ghanaian cocoa is similarly tainted by illegality.

Cocoa production is also plagued with child labour, the sector being one of the only ones where child labour is still getting worse. As of 2018, there are nearly 2 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa—and this number is still increasing.

So far, efforts to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector have mostly focused around voluntary commitments by the chocolate industry.  But these have been insufficient in addressing the issues: despite nearly two decades of voluntary industry efforts to end child labour in the sector, the NGO-led Cocoa Barometer concluded in 2018 that child labour was still “widespread” throughout the industry – with “not a single company or government… anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labour, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labour by 2020.”

Most of this cocoa is headed to the EU. The EU is the world’s largest importer, processor and consumer of cocoa, responsible for about 60% of global cocoa bean imports. The Netherlands, Germany & Belgium bear a particularly heavy responsibility for this crisis, importing almost half of the global trade in cocoa.

This situation and the EU’s failure to act over the past two decades, despite its huge responsibility, is unacceptable.

There is a widely shared recognition within the cocoa sector that cocoa supply chains need to be regulated in consumer countries, in order to tackle these severe human rights and environmental issues that have plagued the cocoa sector for decades.

The industry-led 2018 World Cocoa Conference final declaration concluded that “voluntary compliance has not led to sufficient impact”, and that there is a need to “strengthen human rights due diligence across the supply chain, including through potential regulatory measures by governments”.

Some of the biggest companies in the cocoa supply chain—most recently Mondelez, Mars & Barry Callebaut— have also publicly called on the EU to regulate its cocoa supply chains to tackle deforestation and human rights abuses.

Policy makers agree. In 2012, Members of the Parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Commission to take regulatory action to end child labour in cocoa production -- with no result. France, Germany, and Belgium have all recently passed policies calling for EU regulation for cocoa imports.

The time to talk has passed. The time to act is now.

We ask you to:

  • Ensure that the forthcoming “Communication on Stepping up EU Action on Deforestation and Forest Degradation” includes measures to regulate EU agricultural commodity imports – including cocoa -- to ensure they are free from deforestation and human rights abuses.
  • Urgently call a high-level meeting with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, to discuss the recent Global Forest Watch data and come up with a plan, including time-bound steps, to address the issue, in a partnership of primary producing and primary consuming countries.


Han de Groot - Chief Executive Officer, Rainforest Alliance

Heske Verburg - Managing Director, Solidaridad Europe

Obed Owusu-Addai - Managing Campaigner, EcoCare Ghana

Sergi Corbalán - Executive Director, Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Hannah Mowat - Campaigns Coordinator, Fern

Antonie Fountain - Managing Director, VOICE Network

Jean-Claude Natoueu Koya - Executive President, ROSCIDET Cote d’Ivoire

Etelle Higonnet, Senior Campaign Director, Mighty Earth

Martina Schaub - Executive Director, Südwind Institute

Tina Lutz - Tropical Forest Campaigner, Robin Wood

Reinhard Behrend - Chairman, Retten den Regenwald

Arndt von Massenbach - Executive Director, INKOTA

New Dutch Law Combats Child Labor, Highlights Need for EU-Wide Standards on Cocoa

We are pleased to share excellent news from the Netherlands, where the Dutch Senate has approved a law that will combat the scourge of child labor by holding companies accountable for labor practices throughout their supply chains.

The new Dutch “due diligence” law will be especially important for the cocoa sector. Despite promises from the industry, 2.1 million kids still work in cocoa, 96% of whom are engaged in work considered hazardous.

The Netherlands is the #1 cocoa importing country in the world. Much of the world’s cocoa flows through Dutch ports. Amsterdam ranks as the largest cocoa port in the world. After decades of being a major source of problems, the Dutch have finally opted to be part of solutions.

Their law will likely have positive ramifications for the environment as well as human rights of children. One fundamental building block of ensuring zero child labor in any product - like chocolate for example - is full traceability in supply chains. That selfsame traceability is helpful in making sure cocoa didn’t come from inside a national park and wasn’t tied to destroying forests.

Due diligence laws like the one moving forward in the Netherlands can thus also help address deforestation, which, in tandem with the child labor problem, is cocoa’s other big dark secret. 

Thanks to the leadership of parliamentarians like Roelof van Laar and Attje Kuijken; the drive of NGOs like MVO Platform and SOMO; and the help of companies like Nestlé, Tony Chocolonely, Barry Callebaut, this law provides new hope to everyone working on problematic commodities that are traded through Holland like cocoa, palm oil, and soy.

Around the world, consumers are increasingly articulating higher expectations for the chocolate and other companies they buy from. There is an understanding that major corporations must be held accountable for the negative impacts that their sprawling supply chains have on communities and the environment. And if companies are unable to hold themselves to high enough standards, governments will step in and do it for them.

Major failures of the last few years have made it clear that voluntary corporate action has not effectively addressed child labor or environmental destruction in the cocoa sector. As a result, there are growing calls for an EU-wide due diligence regulation to address these issues. The new effort in the Netherlands echoes recent calls from member states of France, Germany, and Belgium for effective European regulation.

The time for piecemeal approaches is over. The EU should rise to the expectations of its citizens and move quickly to establish uniform due diligence requirements for cocoa.

Earth Day – Reflecting on environmental reforms in the cocoa industry in the past year

Reflecting on Reforms in the Cocoa Industry in the Past Year


Earth Day is a time for us to reflect on the past year and look to the future. Over the last twelve months, Mighty Earth has worked hard to reform industrial agriculture practices across all of our campaigns, including meat, soy, rubber, and palm oil.

Today, Senior Advisor Etelle Higonnet shares news and updates from Mighty Earth’s campaign to make the chocolate industry sustainable.

Since November 2017, the chocolate industry has been undergoing a revolution towards deforestation-free chocolate, traceability, agroforestry, joint industry action, and more. However, much remains to be done to fight the ongoing deforestation that permeates the industry. We need binding legislation to clean up chocolate for good. This blog post summarizes some of the biggest news that’s hit the cocoa space in 2018 and up until today – Earth Day – the good news; the bad news; and recommendations for the future.

Good News

Momentum for possible US cocoa regulation: In the USA, Congressman Elliot Engel may be willing to champion US legislation on cocoa. Engel has been fighting to clean up cocoa since 2001 when he pushed through The Harkin–Engel Protocol with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin in an effort to end the worst forms of child labor and forced labor in chocolate.

Photo Credit: CNN Freedom Project
Julia Klöckner Photo Credit: CDU Rheinland-Pfalz

Member state support grows for EU regulation of cocoa:

Germany has called for European-wide “binding regulations” to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa industry. (The German sustainable chocolate platform GISCO is debating whether to follow the German government and endorse EU regulation on cocoa as well.) The German agriculture minister, Julia Klöckner, said earlier that “we need a clear regulation of what sustainable cocoa is”, and in November the German development minister spoke out in favor of such a regulation.

The French government called for an EU regulation on forest risk commodities like cocoa, palm oil, beef and soy, noting that that the cocoa sector “seemed ripe for a rapid adoption of this type of regulation.”

The Belgian chocolate industry, retail sector, civil society, investors, and government – under the impetus of Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo – all signed the “Beyond Chocolate” partnership. They committed themselves to tackling child labor, combating deforestation and ensuring a living income for cocoa producers. Ministers De Croo, Reynders, and Marghem called upon the EC to develop an ambitious EU action plan against deforestation and forest degradation.

A growing number of chocolate companies such as MarsMondelez, and Barry Callebaut have come out publicly in support of EU regulation on imported deforestation, even calling on the EU to act. Other chocolate companies are mobilizing to speak soon for an EU cocoa law.

The EU held two cocoa parliamentary hearings in 2018. On 11 July 2018, the first-ever European Union Parliamentary hearing was held in Brussels on cocoa, deforestation, and child labor. MEPs and Commission staff acknowledged that the EU is the #1 importer, manufacturer, and consumer of cocoa and that the EU has a tremendous responsibility for this commodity’s problems. MEPs called for binding legislation to stop cocoa from coming into the EU if it is linked to deforestation or child labour, and expressed a strong determination to get an EU law passed soon. Representatives of the largest chocolate manufacturers attending the hearing agreed that a law would be welcome; and the government of Ghana representative suggested an EU law could be desirable. A follow up hearing was held in late 2018, and continued to build momentum towards EU regulation of cocoa.

Cocoa & chocolate companies are reforming bit by bit, on paper:

Through our campaigning we have now pressured most major companies to agree on paper to global deforestation-free cocoa including Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Olam, Cemoi, PBC (traders) and Nestle, Lindt, Hershey’s, Godiva, Unilever, and others. Ferrero and others have promised to accept this soon though we are still waiting for them. Some chocolate companies have even gone beyond cocoa, to make broader cross-commodity global deforestation-free commitments (like Cemoi, Lindt, Hershey’s, Godiva).

Nearly all major chocolate companies buying cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have accepted deforestation-free, via the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, CFI. The implementation plans for CFI – where companies explain how they plan to turn their big promises into reality – are being published. For example, here are plans from the world’s biggest cocoa trader, Barry Callebaut; and from Nestle. The World Cocoa Foundation already published the aggregate summary of all 30+ plans.

The industry came together in the Berlin Declaration to recommend an end to deforestation for cocoa and promote forest protection and restoration.






The German sustainable chocolate platform GISCO is revising its policies and positions and may perhaps accept deforestation-free cocoa worldwide, a reduction in pesticides, traceability goals, and some other good elements, including maybe support for EU cocoa regulation.




The Belgian industry, government, and civil society created their sustainable chocolate platform with relatively high ambitions.

The Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa, with relatively low ambitions at present, is contemplating a reform right now to improve its standards.


A new French platform is possible, as the French industry groups appear willing to try and create a French platform embracing globally deforestation-free/traceable/sustainable cocoa, like GISCO, the Swiss, and the Belgians.

Traceability and transparency is growing

Nestle has started to disclose its cocoa supply chain down to Tier 1 and Tier 2, Mars acted in this vein recently, and Lindt’s new supply chain disclosures cover Tier 1 suppliers and geographies of origin.

Most traders have undertaken major traceability exercises of both their direct and indirect supply chains, tracing down to farmgate level for many thousands of farmers, and some companies like Cargill are rolling out mobile money payments and barcodes for cocoa bags.

Supermarkets reform: For the first time ever, supermarkets are rallying and organizing to commit to selling more sustainable cocoa. A group of retailers led by Tesco organized last year to embrace zero deforestation cocoa. They met for the first time October 9, 2018, and are likely to make their official debut public soon. Supermarkets receive 30-40% of the profits from the average chocolate bar, so it is vital that they take responsibility.

Brazilian agroforestry Photo Credit: Mighty Earth

Agroforestry spreads: There has been major progress on pushing the cocoa industry to shift to agroforestry and away from full-sun monoculture. As much as 30% of the world’s cocoa appears to be covered now by agroforestry commitments. We are still waiting for companies like Ferrero to embrace a strong agroforestry policy, and unfortunately implementation across the board is just beginning, but it’s a good start.

Producer countries are mobilizing: Three countries made big pledges to end deforestation in their cocoa production in the Cocoa & Forests Initiative:  GhanaCôte d’Ivoire, and Colombia all published “Frameworks for Action” co-signed by industry stakeholders and government. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire revealed implementation plans to make these pledges a reality, and are expected to provide more details soon.

There is movement for similar frameworks in additional countries such as Cameroon, Liberia, Bolivia, Belize, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, and the state of Bahia in Brazil. In all these places, either government officials (Cameroon and Liberia) or industry and civil society are speaking out to try and develop deforestation-free national cocoa plans.

Cocoa certification schemes are improving: Fair Trade just improved prices for its farmers, though the certification mechanism is still a long way from guaranteeing farmers a living income. Fair Trade committed to improving its policies for deforestation-free cocoa and agroforestry. Rainforest Alliance/UTZ fused and are improving their standards for deforestation-free/agroforestry – although Rainforest Alliance still does not guarantee their farmers a living income either.

To summarize, producing countries are reforming on paper at least, much of the industry is forging ahead with big policy reforms (and the beginning of implementation), while momentum seems to be growing for regulation in the EU.

Bad News

Bad news in Côte d’Ivoire: Despite the chocolate industry’s pledge in November 2017 as part of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative to cease sourcing cocoa linked to deforestation, a 2018 Mighty Earth investigation found that deforestation in West Africa for cocoa had continued, and in some cases has increased. The report, Behind the Wrapper: Greenwashing in the Chocolate Industry, identifies deforestation hotspots, including in protected areas and national parks, putting some of the last refuges for forest elephants and chimpanzees at risk and threatening the stability of the regional climate.

In Côte d’Ivoire, satellite analysis recorded approximately 13,748 hectares of deforestation in the cocoa-growing Southwest region alone, between November 2017 and September 2018. This forest loss is equivalent to 15,000 football fields. The report found that over half of the Ivorian forest areas reviewed showed an increase in their rates of deforestation since the announcement of the CFI one year ago.

In the Goin Debé classified forest, not much had changed since Mighty Earth’s initial 2017 investigation. One forest had been cleared and planted with cocoa just two days before researchers arrived – in the same protected area inspected less than a year prior. The field investigation documented children laboring in cocoa fields as well.

The bottom line: commitments are a key step, but corporate pledges are only as valuable as their follow-through.

The Netherlands still hasn’t come out in favor of EU regulation: The world is waiting for the Dutch to act. They are the most problematic country as a conduit for dirty, deforestation cocoa coming into Europe. The country is the #1 cocoa importer worldwide, and yet the Netherlands’ policies to clean up their cocoa imports have been left in the dust by Belgium, Germany, and France. Dutch scandalous inaction and foot dragging remains a major roadblock to meaningful EU reforms.

Bad news in Brazil: A yearlong December 2018 investigation in Brazil, by the International Labour Organization (ILO) & Brazilian Federal Labour Prosecution Office, revealed that at least 8,000 children and teenagers were working in the Brazilian cocoa supply chain.  The report found that global chocolate supply chains are often tainted by cocoa from Brazilian farms where human rights violations, like long hours, degraded conditions and debt bondage, are common. Brazil was the world’s seventh-largest cocoa producer in 2017, exporting cocoa to the United States, Argentina, Netherlands, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay.

Deforestation in West Africa Photo Credit: Mighty Earth

Bad news worldwide: The price of cocoa collapsed by 30% in 2017. Prices continued to mostly plunge or stagnate, triggering a massive economic crisis for most farmers, whose income has shrunk to under $1 per day – in may cases under 70 cents per day. Cocoa farmers are increasingly facing dire poverty, especially in West Africa.

A handful of companies are still refusing to accept deforestation-free cocoa worldwide: Traders such as ECOM, Blommer, and especially SucDen – which is one of the world’s biggest sugar traders and a very large cocoa trader – remain uncommitted to ending deforestation in all the cocoa they source despite many please. Chocolate manufacturers like Starbucks (USA) or Morinaga (Japan) still won’t engage and reform their cocoa sourcing to end all forest destruction worldwide. A number of retailers like CVS still don’t seem to care if the chocolate they sell on their shelves was made by companies who source from deforestation.

Certification schemes are lagging: RA/UTZ still hasn’t matched the price increase to farmers like Fair Trade, which recently opted to give farmers a little bit more. And even Fair Trade didn’t increase enough to pay farmers a living income – by their own admission, the price they pays simply falls short of what is needed.


Concerned citizens:

Only buy ethical chocolate, sign a petition and call, email or text your Congressperson if you are in the US or a Member of the European Parliament if you are in the European Union

Chocolate and/or Cocoa Companies:

Become a member of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI). If you’re a CFI member but you haven’t yet signed the Ghana Framework and Côte d’Ivoire Framework then do so. If not CFI, then find another model that is at least as good as CFI – match or surpass, but don’t wait around doing nothing. Embrace a worldwide deforestation-free cocoa policy; Ask all suppliers/traders to do the same and suspend them if they won’t.  Get full traceability of your cocoa, not just the direct supply chains but the indirect supply chains as well. Commit to eventually shifting all your cocoa supply over to agroforestry cocoa only.


Join the CFI supermarket initiative called Retailer Cocoa Collaboration (RCC) – or else match/surpass that;

Cocoa Producing Countries:

Adopt your own CFI Framework for Action – or surpass CFI with an even better national policy, such as a cross-commodity deforestation-free policy.

Cocoa Consuming Countries:

Pass a law to regulate the worst cocoa abuses for all cocoa imports.

Join us. The future is in our hands.

Mighty Earth Publishes 2019 Easter Buyer’s Guide for Environmental Chocolate

Mighty Earth Publishes 2019 Easter Buyer’s Guide for Environmental Chocolate

Download the guides:

Sucden receives “Rotten Egg Award,” Lindt identified as 2019’s “Good Egg”

In advance of the Easter holiday, advocacy organization Mighty Earth released today, an environmental buyers’ guide for sustainable chocolate. The guide assesses 57 chocolate companies’ environmental policies and practices to provide consumers with an easy reference when buying chocolate for friends and family.

Easter is the peak holiday for chocolate sales around the world, with a greater market share than Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Halloween. “People are increasingly looking for sustainable options when they shop,” said Etelle Higonnet, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “They don’t want to give their kids Easter eggs made with child labor, or that killed chimpanzees. We want to make that process easier, so that you can savor a chocolate egg without having to worry if the company that made it wiped out a national park in Africa to get the cocoa.”

Mighty Earth gave Sucden the inaugural “Rotten Egg” designation for its weak scores across all measured categories. Sucden has been one of the least responsive cocoa traders, refusing to engage with citizen groups, trace where its cocoa comes from, commit to deforestation-free cocoa, or switch to environmentally friendly agroforestry for its cocoa production. Moreover, the company – which also controls 15 to 20 percent of the world’s sugar – refuses to ensure a living income for the farmers that supply its cocoa. It has also failed to eliminate child and slave labor from its supply chain.

“Sucden is essentially accepting or turning a blind eye to deforestation, ecological devastation via polluting monoculture, slavery, child labor, and the dire poverty of farmers,” said Higonnet. “If anyone deserves a rotten egg, it’s Sucden.”

Mighty Earth named Lindt – one of the top ten chocolate companies in the world – as this year’s “Good Egg.” This year, Lindt not only joined but went above and beyond the industry standard Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI). Lindt’s “No Deforestation and Agroforestry Action Plan” includes dramatic transparency measures, including disclosure of Lindt’s supply chain to suppliers and locations Lindt sources from. Over the last two years, Lindt has embraced zero deforestation worldwide, full traceability of every bean, restoration of forests, the High Carbon Stock Approach (a methodology that distinguishes forest from degraded lands, for optimal implementation of corporate deforestation-free commitments that also ensure local peoples’ rights and livelihoods), and agroforestry with a minimum of 30 percent shade tree cover.

Mighty Earth’s new scorecard includes more than 20 new companies, most of them supermarkets. Roughly 40 percent of the profits of any given chocolate bar go to supermarkets.

“The majority of cocoa farmers make under $1 per day. With the lion’s share of the benefits, it is high time that retailers take responsibility for human rights abuses and environmental abuses in the cocoa they sell,” said Higonnet.

Mighty Earth ranked companies based on their deforestation policies in West Africa, global cocoa deforestation policies, and agroforestry (a way of measuring how companies are doing on shifting away from destructive ‘full sun’ monoculture to forest-friendly, shade-grown, agro-ecological cocoa) – the same categories as last year. However, the 2019 scorecard includes a new category for traceability. Within the last year, many players in the industry made huge progress on this front, tracing as much as 80 percent of their direct supply chain, to move closer to clarity, honesty, and transparency.

Mighty Earth also added new a column for living income. While some consumers may be wondering whether to first eat the ears or the feet on one of the 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies produced each year, most cocoa farmers are wrestling with whether or not they can afford to put a meal on the table for their families. Farmers’ poverty has only gotten worse in the last three years. Roughly 2.1 million children work in cocoa, 96% of whom are found to be in hazardous labor according to researchers at Tulane University.

“I can accept that some parents with a sweet tooth might sneak a wee bit of candy from their kids’ stash,” said Higonnet. “But I can’t accept that a $100 billion-a-year industry is robbing the farmers who are slaving away in unacceptable conditions to supply them with raw materials.”

Victory: Largest Cocoa Company in Ghana Joins Push for Sustainability

As a result of advocacy by Mighty Earth and the hard work of others including the World Cocoa Foundation, the biggest cocoa company in Ghana, PBC Limited, has followed Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and thirty-leading cocoa and chocolate companies in joining the Cocoa Forest Initiative to end deforestation and restore forest areas. PBC Limited controls roughly 35 percent of the Ghana’s cocoa.

As deforestation for cocoa in Ghana continues to destroy the country’s last forests, companies engaged in the industry must step up and commit to sustainability before it is too late. PBC Limited’s decision to join the Cocoa Forest Initiative is a huge step forward to ending deforestation.

PBC Limited’s Cocoa Forest Initiative action plan will focus on three major commitments:

  • Forest protection and restoration,
  • Sustainable production and livelihoods,
  • And community engagement and social inclusion

Following the announcement, PBC Limited CEO Kofi Owusu Boateng declared: “Sustainability is the way to go; it’s a must. It is our collective duty to leave the next generation a healthy and a happy farming population. We need to understand that we are only holding the world in trust for the generation yet unborn.”

This decision puts increasing pressure on Ghanaian cocoa companies Akuafo Adamfo, Armajaro, Kuapa Kokoo, Federated Commodities, Transroyal, Adwumapa, and Cocoa Merchants Gh among others to embrace and adopt deforestation-free cocoa, supply chain traceability and agroforestry.

PBC’s change is welcome because the situation for Ghanaian forests is dire, and rainfall is affected as forests vanish. To avoid catastrophic desertification, major change in the cocoa sector is urgently needed. Mighty Earth Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet explained: ‘PBC is leading and we desperately need the other LBCs to follow. It's all hands on deck right now to clean up the cocoa industry, turn things around to make cocoa forest-friendly, and save Ghana’s last forests before it’s too late.

World's major chocolate companies make landmark call for EU to regulate cocoa sector

Update (March 5, 2020): Nestlé announces support for human rights and environmental due diligence.

Update (March 3, 2020): Cabisco announces support for due diligence regulations to support sustainability.

Update (Jan. 6, 2020): Nestlé and Hershey’s have joined the ranks of companies calling for regulation!

Update (December 2019): European Cocoa Association announces support for due diligence regulations.

As a member of The VOICE Network, Mighty Earth is thrilled to join VOICE, Rainforest Alliance, Fairtrade, and the world’s largest chocolate companies in calling on the European Union to strengthen their requirements for environmental protections and human rights safeguards in the cocoa trade. Our joint statement is below:

We, a group of companies (Barry Callebaut AG, Mars Wrigley and Mondelēz International), The VOICE Network*, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade, call on the European Union, by far the largest importer and consumer of cocoa in the world, to strengthen human rights and environmental due diligence requirements of companies in global cocoa supply chains, aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

We strongly believe that we all need to take action together to effectively address some of the systemic human rights and environmental challenges in the cocoa supply chain. National governments must enforce and strengthen their own labour, child protection and environmental laws, and companies have a responsibility to conduct due diligence to identify risk, jointly evaluate remediation and take action which is proportionate to their exposure to the human rights and environmental risk.

Therefore, we think an EU-wide approach to due diligence will benefit all actors in the supply chain in terms of a clear and consistent set of rules and common intent.

The EU should:

  • Aim to negotiate bilateral agreements with cocoa origin governments to create the frameworks necessary to achieve this aim and provide financial and technical support to those governments to do so.
  • Establish a regulatory and policy framework within the EU to ensure that companies conduct human rights and environmental due diligence in their supply chains.  This will help encourage sustainable cocoa production, support consumer trust and help sustain market demand for cocoa from West Africa over the long term.

Find our Joint Position Statement outlining the details of our call to action here. We are looking forward to working with relevant authorities, the rest of the industry and various stakeholders to discuss what is proposed. We invite others to endorse our Joint Position Statement.

* The VOICE Network is an association of NGOs and trade unions, functioning as a watchdog and catalyst for a reformed cocoa sector. Its members are ABVV/FGTB-HorvalBe Slavery Free (formerly Stop The Traffik)EFFAT (observer), FERNMondiaal FNVGreen AmericaInkota NetzwerkInternational Labor Rights ForumMighty EarthOxfam NovibOxfam WereldwinkelsPublic Eye (observer), Solidaridad, and Südwind Institut.

Germany Calls for EU Regulations to Address Deforestation and Child Labour in Cocoa Industry

In groundbreaking news for the chocolate industry, Germany has called for European-wide “binding regulations” to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa industry. With this new action, Germany joins Belgium and France, which have issued similar appeals in recent months, in the campaign for truly sustainable chocolate.

Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner and Development Minister Gerd Mueller launched Germany’s new national 10-point Action Plan for cocoa on 23 January 2019, setting out how their government will address rampant deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector.  A petition asking Ms. Klöckner to stop child labor and deforestation in the cocoa industry was unveiled in December 2018. With more than 108,000 signatures, the petition was the latest of numerous recent grassroots initiatives pressing for change in the chocolate industry, in Germany and beyond.

EU regulation of the cocoa sector could be the key to protecting human rights, since voluntary initiatives have thus far failed to reform the industry. An EU cocoa law could also become part of an ambitious EU action plan to end large-scale deforestation for other imported commodities such as coffee, rubber, palm oil, and soy.

Germany’s new call echoes statements from the French and Belgian governments at the end of 2018, where both governments requested “rapid adoption” of an EU due diligence regulation to tackle child labour and deforestation in the cocoa sector. Chocolate companies expressed similar views, concluding at the April 2018 World Cocoa Conference in Berlin that their voluntary commitments to end child labour and deforestation had “not led to sufficient impact”, and that there was a need to look at “potential regulatory measures by governments.”  At a European Commission event in Brussels on 24 January 2019, Mondelez (the world’s second-largest chocolate company) expressed their “strong support” for “harmonized EU legislation to create a level playing field” in the cocoa sector. Other chocolate industry representatives also have asked for EU regulation in cocoa, so that more responsible corporations aren’t undercut by unscrupulous companies.

Germany’s new 10-point Action Plan comes just as the European Commission launches its open consultation (to close 25 February 2019) on “Stepping up EU Action on deforestation and forest degradation”, which sets out how the EU will address deforestation resulting from its consumption of cocoa, amongst other things. The EU is the world’s largest importer, manufacturer, and consumer of cocoa, responsible for over 60 percent of global cocoa bean imports.

Besides endorsing  EU binding regulations in the new plan, Germany expressed support for joint action; increased imports of certified cocoa to Germany; standards-setting for sustainable cocoa; awareness-raising for German consumers of cocoa; living income for cocoa farmers; political dialogue with producer countries; strengthening of farmer groups; agroforestry; a stronger role for women in cocoa; forest conservation in general and the Cocoa and Forest Initiative in particular.

Julia Christian, forests campaigner at the NGO Fern, explained: “Germany is the EU’s largest chocolate consumer. Its pro-regulation stance puts even more pressure on the European Commission to end the EU’s complicity in the human suffering and environmental destruction caused by the cocoa industry.” She added, “Germany, France and Belgium have now joined major chocolate companies in calling for legally-binding measures, after almost two decades of failed voluntary action in the cocoa sector.

“Now that Germany, France, and Belgium have stepped up to the plate, what are the Dutch waiting for?” said Etelle Higonnet, Senior Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “The Netherlands is the top global cocoa importer. We expect them to do the right thing, demand an EU law to stop widespread environmental destruction, and save the 2.1 million children slaving away in the cocoa sector today.”


Photo by GISCO originally posted on World Cocoa

New Report: Corporate Promises Failing to Stop Cocoa-Driven Deforestation

New Report: One Year In, Chocolate Industry Commitments Fail to Stop Deforestation

Over half of Ivorian protected areas reviewed saw deforestation increase after corporate pledges

ABIDJAN AND WASHINGTON, DC, DECEMBER 7, 2018 – Despite the chocolate industry’s pledge to cease sourcing cocoa linked to deforestation one year ago, a new Mighty Earth report finds that deforestation in West Africa for cocoa has continued, and in some cases has increased. The report, Behind the Wrapper: Greenwashing in the Chocolate Industry, identifies deforestation hotspots, including in protected areas and national parks, putting some of the last refuges for forest elephants and chimpanzees at risk and threatening the stability of the regional climate. In Côte d’Ivoire, satellite analysis recorded approximately 13,748 hectares of deforestation in the cocoa-growing Southwest region alone, between November 2017 and September 2018. This forest loss is equivalent to 15,000 football fields.

Last year, the world’s largest chocolate and cocoa companies like Hershey’s and Lindt stood beside representatives of the two primary cocoa-producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and committed to transform their industry, creating the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI). They pledged to end deforestation linked to the production of cocoa, and promised to make the production of cocoa compatible with environmental protection and human rights.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of these commitments, Mighty Earth used a combination of satellites, drones, and on-the-ground field teams to identify how – and if – these commitments are being implemented in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The report found that over half of the Ivorian forest areas reviewed showed an increase in their rates of deforestation since the announcement of the CFI one year ago. This deforestation violates the most fundamental tenet of the chocolate industry’s and governments’ commitment: to end new cultivation of cocoa in national parks and protected areas.

“The governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have clearly failed to clamp down on this ongoing deforestation,” said Etelle Higonnet of Mighty Earth. “The chocolate industry has spent the last year celebrating itself for its commitments to immediately cease deforestation from cocoa, but the chocolate industry continues to buy cocoa from suppliers linked to the destruction of some of West Africa’s last forests.”

Mighty Earth’s field team documented that farmers who engaged in deforestation for cocoa were still able to openly sell their cocoa to chocolate companies without repercussions. Farmers caught clearing forest for cocoa told investigators that they did not face sanctions, any cuts in supply chains, or even warnings. In the Goin Debé classified forest, for example, not much had changed since Mighty Earth’s initial 2017 investigation. One forest had been cleared and planted with cocoa just two days before researchers arrived – in the same protected area inspected less than a year prior. The field investigation documented children laboring in cocoa fields as well.

“Mighty Earth applauded the commitments made last year, but we know that corporate pledges are only as valuable as their follow-through,” said Higonnet. “We did document some areas where clear progress has been made, so we know it’s possible for companies and local authorities to make positive change. But companies like Cadbury and SucDen still refuse to accept global deforestation-free policies. Unacceptable deforestation and child labor is still happening in front of our eyes. Industry and the governments in cocoa producing countries must address the unacceptable discrepancy between commitments and implementation. And they must do so urgently, before the next deforestation ‘peak danger season’ – which begins in January – irreversibly damages the ecosystems of West Africa.”

Belgium joins France in calling for an EU due diligence cocoa law

Belgium joins France in calling for an EU due diligence cocoa law

Antwerp, Belgium – For the first time, Belgium has called on the European Commission to regulate the cocoa supply chain, including through a “due diligence cocoa law”. France made the same call, last month.

EU regulation of the cocoa sector could ensure real protection for human rights as it would create a level playing field to make sure that good corporations aren’t being undercut by unscrupulous companies. It could also be part of an ambitious EU action plan against other imported commodities tied to large-scale deforestation such as coffee, rubber, palm oil, and worst of all, soy.

Belgium is the fourth largest importer of cocoa and the second biggest exporter of chocolate in the world, boasting a yearly production of 600.000 tonnes and an enviable reputation for its high quality. The Belgian chocolate sector therefore carries considerable weight in the global cocoa economy. Despite this, in recent years Belgium had not been very involved in discussions on sustainability in the cocoa sector which is plagued by systemic issues such as extreme poverty, child labor, and massive deforestation.

Recent studies have shown that cocoa is the number one cause of deforestation in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, as well as a major driver in other producer nations like Ecuador, Peru, Cameroon, and Indonesia.[1] Moreover, the majority of cocoa farmers live in extreme poverty, earning under one Euro per day – far less than they need for a decent living. Recent studies have shown that cocoa farmers on average earn about a third of what they need in order to make a living income.[1] 2.1 million children work in the cocoa industry, 96% of whom are doing work considered “hazardous.”

Belgium’s call comes as a part of a sustainability initiative that is being set up by the Belgian government, the Belgian chocolate sector and civil society. The Belgian ‘Beyond Chocolate’ partnership aims to support the commitments of the Ivory Coast and Ghana to halt deforestation in their cocoa sectors by 2025, and to reach zero deforestation for all other cocoa origins by 2030. At the same time, a living income for cocoa producers should be secured by 2030. The different parties stress the interlinkages between deforestation and human rights in the cocoa supply chain.

“Deforestation in the cocoa sector is directly linked with the extreme poverty in which cocoa farmers live. We cannot sustainably stop deforestation if we don’t make sure that cocoa farmers make a living income.” (Bart Van Besien, Policy Officer at Oxfam-Wereldwinkels)

“Legislative measures are crucial to raise the bar and ensure that EU commodity imports are no longer linked to forest destruction – we are happy that the Belgian government recognises the urgency of an EU Action Plan against Deforestation and forest Degradation”, (Béatrice Wedeux, Forest Policy Officer at WWF-Belgium)

“The recent announcements from Belgium and France are signs that we are making real progress in the fight for sustainable cocoa. As the top consumer of cocoa worldwide, the EU has massive responsibility to fix the problem. Now is the time for other countries — especially Germany and the Netherlands — to join in the movement and enact their own policies to fight cocoa-driven deforestation.” (Etelle Higonnet, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth)

The Belgian initiative is in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and thus the signatories accept that protection of the environment and human rights should be an integral part of doing business.

Belgium’s bold decision to call for EU legislation on cocoa can help level the playing field and make sustainable chocolate a reality.

Facts and figures

  • Belgium is the fourth largest importer of cocoa beans worldwide – and the third largest importer of cocoa beans in Europe, after the Netherlands and Germany.
  • Every year more than 300 thousand tonnes of cocoa beans enter via the port of Antwerp.
  • The port of Antwerp is not only important for the Belgian chocolate sector, it is also an important port for the import of cocoa beans for industry in Germany, the Netherlands, France and other EU countries.
  • Belgium is home to approximately five hundred companies active in the cocoa processing industry and chocolate sector, ranging from large multinationals to Small and Medium Enterprises and artisanal chocolatiers.
  • The Belgian chocolate sector accounts for an annual turnover of almost five billion euros.
  • Every year almost 600,000 tons of chocolate are exported by Belgian chocolate makers to other EU countries as well as the USA and Japan.
  • This makes Belgium the second largest chocolate exporter in the world.

Credit: Daniel Rosenthal/Laif/Redux
Credit: Mighty Earth

Colombia Becomes First Country in Latin America to Commit to Deforestation-Free Chocolate

Mighty Earth applauds Colombia’s decision, announced today, to join the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, a global effort to ensure deforestation-free cocoa. Deforestation for cocoa is a global problem, and the solution must be global as well. Mighty Earth has documented extensive forest destruction for cocoa far beyond West Africa, from Indonesia and Cameroon to Peru and Ecuador. Every cocoa-producing country – from Brazil to Belize and beyond – should be stepping up to the plate and creating national deforestation-free cocoa plans, just as Colombia did today. Colombia has established a new, unquestioned leadership across Latin America in the area of clean, ‘green’, forest-friendly chocolate, thanks to its framework for action announced today.

Now we are looking to the rest of Latin American cocoa-producing countries to match or surpass Colombia, with their own plans to end deforestation for cocoa. What’s more, we hope that in the coming months, Colombia can integrate a focus on agroforestry as well as zero-deforestation cocoa. After all, ending deforestation is just like stopping the car before it drives off the cliff, but agroforestry is like putting the car in reverse. That’s how cocoa can become a truly forest-friendly commodity.

The full press release from World Resources Institute is below:

Colombia Becomes First Country in Latin America to Commit to Deforestation-Free Chocolate

The Colombian Government – alongside Colombia's leading cocoa company, Casa Luker, and the National Cocoa Federation – pledges to produce deforestation-free and 'peace-friendly' cocoa

BOGOTÁ (July 17, 2018) — The Government of Colombia – along with its largest cocoa company, Casa Luker, and the members of the National Cocoa Federation – has committed to eliminate deforestation from the country's cocoa supply chain by 2020. The commitment will be supported by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH).

Colombia joined the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, a global effort to ensure deforestation-free cocoa. The Governments of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, responsible for 60 percent of the world's cocoa, were the first two governments to sign and implement the agreement in 2017. Today, Colombia becomes the first country from Latin America to sign up to the principles of the Initiative, which will be called the ' Cocoa, Forests and Peace Initiative', in honour of cocoa's role in advancing the historic peace process by providing rural employment to farmers and communities previously involved in the conflict.

The Colombian cocoa sector is growing rapidly. The crop has been identified as a priority for Colombian agricultural growth, both for domestic consumption and international export. The bulk of Colombia's cocoa production has the characteristics of 'Fino de Aroma' cocoa, a classification much-prized in the international market.

"Colombia is proud of the quality of the cocoa it produces, as well as its contribution to economic growth, rural employment, avoided deforestation and restoration of degraded land," said Juan Guillermo Zuluaga , Colombia's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. "In a market characterized by a growing interest in zero-deforestation cocoa, with a positive story to tell about forests and peace, we hope Colombia's signing up to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative will encourage greater interest and investment in the Colombian cocoa supply chain."

Colombia's rates of deforestation have increased rapidly since the conclusion of the peace process, as remote areas of the countryside – once off-limits – have seen rapid agricultural and livestock expansion, land speculation and infrastructure development. Recent data from Global Forest Watch and the National Meteorological Institute (IDEAM) show Colombia saw a 46 percent increase in tree cover loss in 2017, which was double the average loss from 2001-'15, but the country is taking significant steps to stop this trend. The government cancelled a major highway project connecting Venezuela and Ecuador, destroyed several illegal roads, and launched the "Green Belt" initiative to protect and restore a 9.2-million-hectare forest corridor. To date, cocoa has not been a significant driver of deforestation in Colombia, and the Initiative is intended to ensure that this continues.

Colombia views cocoa as a strategic crop with which to close the forest frontier and restore degraded agricultural lands through agroforestry and silvopastoral systems comprising cocoa, livestock and trees. Colombia has pledged to restore 1 million hectares of degraded land in its National Development Plan and under Initiative 20x20, a regional effort to change the dynamics of land degradation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Restoration not only contributes to climate change mitigation, but also brings a wide range of benefits including rural welfare and employment, enhanced food security, soil and water conservation, biodiversity protection and climate change resilience.

"The Government of Colombia is doing its utmost to reduce the high rates of deforestation which have ensued since the peace process. With the support of the international community, and responsible businesses, my country is making strong progress towards delivering on its commitments to put an end to deforestation. Cocoa is a critical part of this effort", said Luis Gilberto Murillo , the Colombian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development. "Across the country, I have seen wonderful examples of cocoa taking pressure off natural forests, and instead making a real contribution to the restoration of ecological health and vitality to degraded landscapes. It is therefore with great pleasure that I sign this Agreement."

The Cocoa and Forests Initiative was launched in 2017, in an effort led by the World Cocoa Foundation, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and The Prince's International Sustainability Unit. The initiative has coordinated closely with several organizations, including the World Resources Institute, which has provided support on deforestation monitoring in West Africa through its Global Forest Watch Pro platform and Forest Atlas technology. Colombia's joining came about as a result of the country's engagement in the Food and Land Use Coalition, a public-private collaborative effort to develop strategies for sustainable rural economic development.

Richard Scobey, President of the World Cocoa Foundation, said: "WCF congratulates the Colombian government and other stakeholders on their commitment to end cocoa-related deforestation in Colombia. We are delighted to support this initiative and, along with our members in the global chocolate and cocoa industry, will remain a trusted partner to ensure the sustainability of cocoa, the health of the planet, and the prosperity of cocoa farmers around the world."

Colombia has strong ambitions to grow its cocoa export market, with cocoa identified as one of the country's priority crops in its 'Colombia Siembra' agricultural growth strategy, as well as its engagement in the World Economic Forum's New Vision for Agriculture (whose secretariat is hosted by The Sustainable Trade Initiative – IDH – in Colombia). The lead signing company, Casa Luker, is responsible for purchasing the majority of Colombia's national cocoa production.

Carlos Romero, CEO, Casa Luker Cacao, and Member of the World Cocoa Foundation, said: "Casa Luker has a proud 100-year history of cocoa production in Colombia, with a long-standing commitment to strong environmental management and social inclusion in its cocoa supply chain. We wholeheartedly endorse the principles of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, and look forward to contributing fully to its successful implementation in the years ahead."

Eduard Baquero López, President of the National Cocoa Federation, also welcomed the news: 'The National Cocoa Federation represents the interests of the tens of thousands of smallholder cocoa farmers from across our country. There are many inspiring examples of cocoa production leading to forest protection and restoration; we wish to gain greater global market access for Colombia's cocoa, which has such a distinctive quality and which is rare in contributing both to forest protection and to the peace. We hope the global consumer will come to enjoy their chocolate even more when they learn it protects the forests and delivers the peace!"

Wendy Arenas, Special Advisor to the Presidential Agency for the Post-Conflict, Government of Colombia, said: "Cocoa is a crop with exceptional qualities for the post-conflict. Agroforestry with cocoa helps the process of restoration and recuperation of degraded areas in critical zones for the ecological well-being of the country. Its potential for growth in the national and international market means this supply chain faces a golden opportunity. This is what we have seen in regions of the country such as Arauca, Guaviare, Putumayo, Nariño and others. It is for this reason that we have promoted this agreement as a commitment from the country which we hope will be recognized by international markets".

Etelle Higonnet, Campaigner for the NGO Mighty Earth, said: "Colombia has just cemented its leadership in the fight across Latin America to end deforestation for cocoa. Now, we're eager to see other countries like Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil – which have had well-documented problems of deforestation in their cocoa industries – join the Cocoa & Forests Initiative. We hope the Mercosur market will not lag behind West Africa much longer, and we look to Colombia in the months to come to promote truly forest-friendly all-agroforestry cocoa throughout the nation."

Joost Oorthuizen, Executive Director, Sustainable Trade Initiative, said: "We are pleased that the Colombian cocoa sector is proactively working to ensure cocoa does not become a leading driver of deforestation. These signatories' commitments set an example for other sectors to follow. As can be seen in the Cocoa and Forests Initiative in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, fully engaged public and private stakeholders can take great strides to reach their commitments together."

Andrew Steer, CEO, World Resources Institute, said: "We are delighted that Colombia has joined the Cocoa and Forests Initiative. This is precisely the kind of public-private partnership that will help deliver on Colombia's peace process and the sustainable development goals. We stand ready to accompany the Government to deliver on this vision".

For more information visit 

© WRI, 2018
Solidaridad, 2018
© Solidaridad, 2018
© CIA World Factbook

EU legislation must end child labour and deforestation in the cocoa supply chain

EU legislation must end child labour and deforestation in the cocoa supply chain

Listen to Hearing

This week, a historic European Union Parliamentary hearing was held in Brussels on cocoa, deforestation, and child labor. This first-ever hearing on the subject turned out to be a great step in the right direction to clean up the chocolate industry. The hearing was well attended by MEPs, their staff, Commission staff, a number of Directorates including DG-Trade, DG-DEVCO, and DG-Environment, and also by a senior representative of Unicef and several ambassadors.

MEPs and Commission staff acknowledged that the EU is the #1 importer, manufacturer, and consumer of cocoa and that the EU has a tremendous responsibility for this commodity’s problems. Coming from a range of parties, the MEPs Linda McAvan (chair of the Parliament’s Development Committee), Heidi Hautala (Vice President of the European Parliament), Ignazio Corrao, David Martin, and Lola Sanchez all called for binding legislation to stop cocoa from coming into the EU if it is linked to deforestation or child labour. Moreover, they expressed a strong determination to get an EU law passed soon.

One MEP after another hammered home the fact that voluntary industry action on cocoa is not enough. Likewise, NGOs speaking also made a unified call for a mandatory due diligence law. Representatives of the largest chocolate manufacturers, who attended the hearing, agreed that a law would be welcome; and the government of Ghana representative also suggested an EU law could be desirable. Linda McAvan, who hosted the event, closed by summing up that there was a “near-consensus” in the room that EU regulation is needed. Moreover, the hearing brought up criticism of EU trade agreements with Ghana and Ivory Coast, highlighting the need for such trade agreements to include better protections against deforestation and child labor. There’s new hope for forests threatened by cocoa, and for the 2.1 million children work on cocoa plantations.

The press release from several NGOs is below:

EU legislation must end child labour and deforestation in the cocoa supply chain

NGO coalition calls on EU policy-makers to protect tropical forests and the 2.1 million children working in cocoa

A group of civil society organisations are calling on the EU to pass legislation to end severe human rights violations and environmental destruction in cocoa supply chains. The NGOs have joined forces ahead of the European Parliamentary session “Cocoa and Coffee – devastating rainforests and driving child labour: the role of EU consumption and how the EU could help”, to be held on July 11th.

The chocolate industry’s current approaches to eliminate child labour and to end deforestation will not be sufficient without lawmakers creating a level playing field. Voluntary schemes have played a key role in encouraging companies to introduce more sustainable sourcing practices, but a lot more needs to be done. Urgent action by lawmakers is required, including in the EU.

“Cocoa has been driving 30% of overall deforestation in Ivory Coast and Ghana, and destroying other forests from Asia to the Amazon,” declared Etelle Higonnet of Mighty Earth. Sergi Corbalán of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office added that cocoa must be good for people as well as planet: “Child labour is a consequence of poverty. Better prices must be paid to cocoa farmers to enable them to secure a living income.” Core challenges will require legislation in both producing and consuming countries. “The EU must rise to the challenge, as Europe is the number one importer, manufacturer, and consumer of chocolate worldwide – and home to the biggest chocolate companies,” explained Julia Christian of Fern.

The NGO coalition calls on the EU to make mandatory compliance with Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) standards. HRDD would require chocolate companies to analyse, prevent, mitigate, remediate and report on risks in their supply chain, not only for their own operations, but also for those of their suppliers. It would require mandatory reporting on key measures, such as responsible risk management (on child labour, this would mean reporting on cases and on measures taken to address them). Future reporting should be based on standard, common definitions, which requires harmonisation of legislation across different jurisdictions and markets to avoid a regulatory fragmentation.

“To end deforestation for cocoa, we also call on EU to urgently develop import regulations that require companies and importers of cocoa to undertake responsible sourcing and proper due diligence to ensure that the cocoa they are importing is not coming from illegally cleared forests,” added Obed Owusu-Addai of EcoCare Ghana.

Just two months ago in the final declaration of the fourth World Cocoa Conference held in Berlin, the cocoa sector itself recognised that ‘voluntary compliance has not led to sufficient impact’, and that ‘all stakeholders are called upon to strengthen human rights due diligence across the supply chain, including through potential regulatory measures by governments.’

As such, the NGO coalition calls upon the EU Parliament and Commission to pass legislation protecting against human rights violations and deforestation in the cocoa sector.

Signed by: EcoCare Ghana, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Fern, Mighty Earth, Oxfam, VOICE Network. (The VOICE Network is an association of NGOs and Trade Unions working on sustainability in cocoa. VOICE’s mission is to be a watchdog and catalyst for a reformed cocoa sector, addressing blind spots and underrepresented issues in the value chain. VOICE’s activities focus around research and advocacy.) VOICEMembersABVV/Horval (Belgium), FNV (Netherlands), Inkota Netzwerk(Germany), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Oxfam Wereldwinkels (Belgium), Public Eye (Switzerland), Stop The Traffik (Australia/Netherlands), and Südwind Institut(Germany). Voice ObserversEFFAT (European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism trade Unions)

The hearing was covered by the New York Times.

Credit: Daniel Rosenthal/Laif/Redux

How to Buy Chocolate for Easter Without Killing Sloths

How to Buy Chocolate for Easter Without Killing Sloths

Consumer Guide

It’s Easter. The holiday season is chock-full of scenes of celebration: bunnies, decorations, and eggs. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate. The week surrounding Easter has the highest consumption of chocolate in the year.  

This sweet season obscures a bitter truth: the primary areas where cocoa is grown—Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Indonesia, Peru and Ecuador—have experienced a dramatic decline in forest cover and biodiversity as a result of cocoa cultivation. For example, when I interviewed Ivorian poachers during an undercover investigation to film illegal cocoa inside parks, they told me the national parks were so decimated that there were no animals left to hunt. ‘Nothing is left,’ said one poacher who requested anonymity. 

Though the industry has long been known for child labor, slavery, trafficking, and other labor abuses, Mighty Earth first uncovered cocoa’s deforestation challenge last spring, when trying to assess causes of forest loss in West Africa. The findings from satellite maps surprised us: Cocoa turned out to be the top driver of deforestation in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. These nations rank #1 and #3 for the highest rates of deforestation in all of Africa. The Ivory Coast lost more than 85 percent of its forests since 1990 alone. After learning of this problem, we went to the field, documented how illegal deforestation cocoa was finding its way into Easter eggs, Kit Kats, and Snickers and alerted local governments and 50 major chocolate companies. 

Following the report and hard work behind the scenes by IDH, the Prince of Wales International Sustainability Unit, and the World Cocoa Foundation, most major players in the chocolate sector joined the Ghanaian and Ivorian governments to commit to No New Deforestation for cocoa in West Africa.

This commitment by industry and West African offers the basis for addressing these issues, but now the real work must begin: companies must quickly set up systems to fully monitor forests, exclude suppliers that engage in destruction of forests, and invest in restoration of national parks and protected areas. 

One major step that would make Easter beautiful would be a plan to shift the world’s 9 million hectares of cocoa to more sustainable, shade-grown cocoa that can provide habitat for birds and other animals, instead of just monocultures.

Second, the cocoa industry needs to clean up its act for chocolate worldwide, not just in West Africa. The pledges made to reform in West Africa only cover two countries. What will happen to chimps in Cameroon, dwarf buffalos in Indonesia, or sloths in Peru also facing threats from cocoa expansion? While progress in Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa has been remarkable, chocolate companies should protect the rest of the world as well.

It’s up to us to hold the industry accountable this holiday season. Hundreds of thousands of consumers have already acted by signing petitions, and chocolate lovers can help shift the industry by buying holiday chocolate with deforestation in mind. We made a purchasing guide to help consumers understand which major chocolate companies are doing the best job so far to protect forests, and which are lagging behind. We give companies “good” green eggs for leadership, yellow eggs if the company needs to step up their game, and red or “bad eggs” for companies failing to do the right thing. Each company is scored based on three simple criteria: first, have they signed onto the West African pact to overhaul all environmental practices for cocoa there, and turn the page on deforestation? Second, are they on board with “shade-grown” bird-friendly cocoa with a real agroforestry policy worldwide? And third, has the company extended its commitment beyond West Africa to protect forests all over the world, refusing to buy deforestation cocoa no matter where it’s from?

We urge you to buy with your heart this Easter, and make sure you purchase chocolate only from companies that do their part to protect forests and wildlife.

Your Cocoa, Kissed By Deforestation

Your Cocoa, Kissed By Deforestation

The destruction of forests for cocoa in Ivory Coast and Ghana has been well-documented, including in Mighty Earth’s recent report, “Chocolate’s Dark Secret.” Now, new research shows that cocoa is driving ongoing deforestation in other regions of the world, from Asia to the Amazon. Mighty Earth undertook mapping of cocoa-producing regions in four countries outside of West Africa and found a high risk of deforestation in various cocoa-producing areas.

Through detailed satellite mapping and overlaying maps of deforestation and cocoa-producing regions, we found large-scale deforestation within cocoa-producing regions of Indonesia, Cameroon, Peru, and Ecuador.

This Valentine’s Day mapping warrants more detailed investigations into the companies driving cocoa-deforestation worldwide, and research into how much of the deforestation in the cocoa-producing regions can be attributed to cocoa as opposed to other commodities. What is crystal clear however, is that the chocolate industry is expanding right now in countries like Indonesia, Peru, Ecuador, and Cameroon that still boast extensive rainforests. With demand for chocolate increasing, the chocolate industry risks aggressively expanding to rainforest nations around the world; in many places, exporting the same bad practices that contributed to the near-total destruction of West Africa’s forests. Ivory Coast and Ghana stand as a cautionary tale of what could happen in other countries where cocoa is spreading, if the industry does not reform its practices.

After our report in the fall of 2017, 24 leading chocolate companies joined the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast to commit to No New Deforestation, reforestation, and traceability in West Africa. These companies and the governments have much to do to fulfill these promises. But only a handful of companies have made a global commitment to deforestation-free cocoa. It’s time for the rest of the chocolate industry to do the same.

Olam International and Hershey’s have pledged to zero deforestation for cocoa worldwide effective immediately, and also to agroforestry, and a few more have committed to change soon: Barry Callebaut aims to be deforestation-free for cocoa by 2025 whilst Godiva promised to roll out a cross-commodity No Deforestation policy – that includes cocoa – soon. Still others like Mondelez have committed to No Deforestation Cocoa for several origins beyond West Africa though not worldwide yet. Companies that fight to end deforestation for cocoa and re-green cocoa worldwide are setting a precedent for the industry, going above and beyond the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, and sending a Valentine to endangered animals from Asia to the Amazon.

  • Hershey’s: “We are proud to commit to ‘no new deforestation’ in our cocoa supply chain by not sourcing cocoa from anywhere in the world where new deforestation has occurred, effective immediately, as well as creating an agroforestry program to support shade-grown cocoa through tree planting programs.”
  • Barry Callebaut: “Under our Forever Chocolate sustainability vision Barry Callebaut has committed to become Forest positive and Carbon Positive, and to source all our ingredients sustainably, deforestation free, by 2025.”
  • Godiva:  “As part of our overarching commitment to enriching our communities and the planet Godiva is updating our Global Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure that our ingredient suppliers across all of our commodities – including cocoa – continue to establish sourcing programs that combat deforestation and forest degradation.”
  • Olam International: Olam Cocoa is committed to halting deforestation in its supply chains globally, which includes training farmers on Climate Smart practices and rolling out programs for planting shade trees. In Côte d’Ivoire, Olam scaled up recommendations to farmers on the planting of trees – recommending 100 forestry and 50 shade trees per hectare. In its direct sourcing, Olam Cocoa’s goal is for 100% of volumes to be traceable and sustainable by 2020.
  • Mondelēz: “Since 2012 our ambition is to source all our cocoa sustainably, mainly from Cocoa Life which operates in six countries including Indonesia with an environmental focus that includes No Deforestation for cocoa; we conduct environmental and forest conservation training in all origins where we source cocoa and support shade-grown cocoa, intercropping and agro-forestry and we already conducted a deforestation baseline in Indonesia to monitor deforestation.”
  • Halba: Halba doesn’t have a No Deforestation policy for cocoa yet but is working on it; and the company is already committed to offsetting all CO2 emissions in its supply chain through a reforestation agroforestry project in Honduras; so far Halba planted over 350’000 timber trees in Honduras, Peru and Ghana and committed to agroforestry in all countries where it purchases cocoa, aiming for 70 shade trees per ha. 
  • Nestle:  “Nestlé is a signatory to the Cocoa & Forests Initiative and we also have a long standing overall no deforestation policy for our key commodities, including cocoa.”
  • Unilever: “In terms of global commitments to end deforestation for cocoa, commitment to sourcing 100% of our cocoa sustainably is a global commitment and not geography-specific. Similarly, our global position on eliminating deforestation from our supply chains is not commodity-specific.”

It is high time for the whole industry to clean up its act and move fast to implement robust zero deforestation policies worldwide for cocoa – especially those companies that Mighty Earth had already named in our last report as being connected to illegal deforestation cocoa supply chains, with cocoa coming even from inside national parks.

We’re asking the chocolate industry to do the right thing and send a Valentine to sloths in Peru, jaguars in Ecuador, and dwarf buffalos in Indonesia, by saving their forest homes.

Sulawesi: Part of Indonesian cocoa-producing region, before and after deforestation

Before 2000

After 2016

Part of Peruvian cocoa-producing region, before and after deforestation 

Before, 2000

After, 2016

Part of Ecuadorian cocoa-producing region, before and after deforestation 

Before, 2000

After, 2016

Part of Cameroonian cocoa-producing region, before and after deforestation 

Before, 2000
After, 2016

Notes on deforestation for cocoa beyond West Africa:

Globally: Global forest loss caused by cocoa production was roughly 2-3 million hectares from 1988 to 2008, which equaled approximately 1% of total forest loss.[i] Cocoa represented 8% of deforestation embodied in EU27 net imports of crop products, 1990-2008.[ii] Cocoa is spreading, and as it does, it threatens new forests. “From 2000 to 2014, the global production of cocoa beans increased by 32 per cent – from 3.4 to 4.5 million tonnes – while the land-use footprint of cocoa plantations grew by 37 per cent – from 7.6 to 10.4 million hectares.”[iii] Cocoa production has been growing from 2007 to now in countries like Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, Liberia, Uganda, Colombia, Sierra Leone, likely stressing already vulnerable forests there.

Indonesia: Indonesia is notorious for deforestation for palm oil, timber, and paper. However, cocoa production has been expanding there too, and it is the 3rd biggest cocoa producer in the world. Between 1988 and 2007, an estimated 0.7 million ha of Indonesian forest were cleared for cocoa production, which equals about 9% of total national deforestation for crops.[iv] The deforestation shown in our maps above is in the “cocoa island” of Sulawesi, where most of Indonesia’s 850,000 tons of cocoa a year[v] comes from. In 2017, around 63% of Indonesian cocoa production was concentrated on Sulawesi Island. The provinces within Sulawesi that produce most cocoa are West Sulawesi (18% of Indonesia’s total), South-East Sulawesi (17%) and South Sulawesi (16%).[vi] An expert told Mighty Earth that with the exception of the alluvial plains in the region North of Mamuju (West coats, facing Borneo) which was partly deforested in the mid 1990s by oil palm companies, almost all the deforestation in Sulawesi is for cocoa, especially in the hills (in general everything beyond 20 km from the coastal line). [vii]

Cameroon: Cocoa is also becoming a driver of deforestation in the Congo Basin, the most intact of the world’s great rainforests. Cocoa beans export statistics from ITC show an export increase by Cameroon from 131,075 in 2007 to 263,746 in tons in 2016, suggesting a doubling of cocoa trees were planted (noting that harvests start 3-5 years after planting), some of which was likely in forests. In 2012, Cameroon’s government announced plans to increase cocoa production from around 225,000 tonnes annually to 600,000 tonnes by 2020 – a move which would put more forests at risk. (though according to the director-general of the Cameroon Cocoa Development Corporation, these plans to expand cocoa are falling short).[viii] Already in 2014 over 11% of the land footprint of crop production in Cameroon was for cocoa. The deforestation shown in our maps above is in the Manyu division of South-West Region province of Cameroon. Manyu and Meme are the two divisions in Cameroon with the highest production of cacao.[ix] The South-West Region province is said to produce roughly half of Cameroon’s cacao.[x] Mamfé is the cacao capital of Manyu division. Since November 2016, there have been violent clashes between separatists and security forces. These clashes cut many Cameroonian buyers off from traditional sales routes, and thus some cocoa is reportedly illegally exported to Nigeria.[xi] In neighboring Nigeria, cocoa was estimated to contribute to 8% of national deforestation, 1990-2008.[xii]

Peruvian Amazon: Cocoa producers have also turned to South America, especially Peru. Cocoa beans export statistics from ITC show an export increase from 4,263 tons in 2007 to 61,888 in 2016. This would indicate a fifteen-fold increase in cocoa production. Satellite images in 2012 caught United Cacao red-handed destroying nearly 5000 acres of land for a cocoa plantation, encroaching on the carbon-rich, biodiverse Amazon rainforest in Peru. Peru’s cacao planting may have reached 129,842 hectares in 2016.[xiii] The deforestation shown in our maps above was found most in the provinces of Ucayali, Huanuco and San Martin.

Ecuador: Cocoa beans export statistics from ITC show an export increase from 80,093 tons in 2007 to 227,214 in 2016 – almost a three-fold increase. The cultivated area of cocoa in the provinces of Sucumbíos, Orellana and Napo increased by 16,600 hectares in 2000-2008. The agricultural sector is the main driver of Ecuadorean deforestation, through cultivation of pastures for livestock, cocoa and oil palm.[xiv] Cocoa is produced on an estimated 16,100 hectares in the province of Sucumbios and 13,500 hectares in the province of Orellana.[xv] The deforestation shown in our maps above is in the Orellana and Sucumbíos provinces.

Forest destroyed for cocoa © Mighty Earth 2017

Bags of cocoa being prepared for shipment © Mighty Earth 2017

Jaguar in Ecuador, (c) 123RF

Indonesian Dwarf-Buffalo, (c) 123RF

Peruvian sloth, (c) 123RF

[i] Kroeger, A. et al. (2017) Eliminating Deforestation from the Cocoa Supply Chain. World Bank Group, March 2017.
[iv] FAOSTAT and European Commission. The impact of EU consumption on deforestation: Comprehensive analysis of the impact EU consumption on deforestation. 2013. Technical Report 063.
[vi] Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, Directorate General of Estate Crops, Tree Crop Estate Statistics of Indonesia, 2015-2017 cocoa,
[vii] Email exchange with Francois Ruf, February 2018.
[viii] Thomson Reuters Foundation, Extreme weather threatens Cameroon’s hopes of becoming a cocoa giant, 7 June 2017,
[ix] International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), Cameroon,
[x] Reuters, Unrest in Cameroon fuels cocoa smuggling to Nigeria, 16 January 2018,
[xi]Business in Cameroon, Cameroon’s cocoa production taken over by Nigeria, 29 July 2017,
Reuters, Unrest in Cameroon fuels cocoa smuggling to Nigeria, 16 January 2018,
[xiv] Satellite images in 2012 showed United Cacao destroying nearly 5000 acres of land for a cocoa plantation, encroaching on the carbon-rich, biodiverse Amazon rainforest in Peru:
See also: and  for how Matt Finer of the Amazon Conservation Association used Landsat imagery to chronicle the clearing month-by-month and prove that the area was previously primary forest. Meanwhile, Greg Asner of Stanford University’s Carnegie Institution for Science used airborne LiDAR technology to estimate that the patch of forest contained an average of 122 metric tons of carbon per hectare (54.4 tons per acre).” (WRI: and ).
[xv] UNDP and Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment (MAE), Sustainable Development of the Ecuadorian Amazon: integrated management of multiple use landscapes and high value conservation forests, March 2015,
[xvi] Revista Nera, Oswaldo Viteri Salazar and Jesús Ramos-Martín, Organizational structure and commercialization of coffee and cocoa in the northern amazon region of Ecuador, January-April 2017,

ITC Trade in Cocoa Beans, 2007-2016

Les « Bonnes choses de 2017 » : le travail de Mighty Earth sur le chocolat figure sur la liste du Guardian.

Si cette année fut parfois houleuse pour l’environnement, elle a connu aussi de grandes réussites en matière de lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. Le travail de Mighty Earth sur l’industrie du chocolat figure sur la liste publiée par le Guardian des « Bonnes choses de 2017 » au même titre que la découverte d’un océan souterrain sur une lune de Saturne, la croissance économique mondiale de 3,7 %, et l’élection d’Emmanuel Macron en France. Suite à notre enquête sur la déforestation dans les parcs nationaux et dans d’autres aires protégées d’Afrique de l’Ouest, l’industrie du chocolat et les gouvernements d’Afrique de l’Ouest ont réagi immédiatement et se sont engagés à mettre un terme à la déforestation liée à la culture du cacao pour l’ensemble de cette région. Notre programme pour l’année prochaine : étendre ces engagements pour les forêts du monde entier.

« Mais les gros titres de la presse ne révèlent pas toute l’histoire — peut-être même pas grand-chose. Loin de l’hystérie des quotidiens, il est possible de déceler des progrès, des bonheurs, des avancées et une denrée fort rare de nos jours : de l’optimisme.

Au Ghana et en Côte d’Ivoire, les gouvernements élaborent des plans pour empêcher la conversion de forêts en plantations de cacao après que les militants de Mighty Earth ont mis en lumière les liens qui existaient entre la déforestation illégale et le chocolat fabriqué par Mars, Hershey’s, Nestlé et d’autres marques mondiales. »