Sustainable chocolate depends on fair price for farmers

Over 900 representatives, from farmers to consumers, this week attended the World Cocoa Conference 2014 in Amsterdam. The central theme of the second edition of this international conference was the sustainability of the cocoa sector.

At the opening of the conference, Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma called for improved conditions for cocoa farmers: "Sustainable chocolate starts with paying farmers a fair price. This means their children can then attend school and investments can be made in improving production, such as through climate-smart agriculture. Only these actions will ensure the cocoa sector operates more sustainably within the next ten years."

Largest cocoa processor and cocoa port

The Netherlands is home to the world’s largest cocoa port. Over 600,000 tonnes of cocoa beans, one fifth of the world’s harvest, enters Europe via Amsterdam. Together with the United States, our country is also the largest processor of cocoa in the world. For example, the largest chocolate factory in Europe is in Brabant and produces over 7.2 billion bars of chocolate every year. In view of these facts, in her opening speech Minister Dijksma stated it was only natural that the Netherlands should take international responsibility: “As a major player in the cocoa sector, the Netherlands has a great deal of knowledge in house. Therefore we can, or rather, we must, make a significant contribution to ensuring the production of chocolate is sustainable. That is our duty.” 

100% sustainable cocoa in the Netherlands in 2025

In 2010 the Dutch cocoa sector agreed to ensure all chocolate products  produced for the domestic market would be fully sustainable by 2025. As yet, the sector appears on course to achieve this goal. Over 20% of the cocoa processed in the Netherlands is sustainably produced. The sector has demonstrated its commitment by focussing on certification and by organising this international conference on Dutch soil. However, Minister Dijksma did refer to the need to take additional steps if the sustainability objective is to be achieved within ten years. 

Focus on better international agreements

In recent years progress has also been made in other parts of the world through certification. During this week in Amsterdam cocoa farmers, producers and representatives from government and NGOS discussed what else is required to make the cocoa sector sustainable.
The World Cocoa Conference 2014 was held from 9 to 13 June 2014 and organised by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO). The conference is the successor to the first worldwide cocoa conference held in 2012 in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast.