Chocomel opts for socially responsible cocoa

17 June 2010

Chocomel will soon be the first chocolate-based drink to contain sustainably produced cocoa. FrieslandCampina Benelux, which produces Chocomel, has signed an agreement to this end with UTZ CERTIFIED. Chocomel is the Netherlands’ biggest chocolate milk brand.

In 2010, 10% of the cocoa used to make Chocomel will be UTZ CERTIFIED. The aim is that by 2014, all the cocoa required for Chocomel will be sustainably purchased. At the moment, there is still not enough responsibly produced cocoa available to meet Chocomel’s full requirement.

Improve cocoa production and the position of farmers
By using sustainably produced cocoa, Chocomel will be helping to improve the working conditions and competitiveness of cocoa growers, as well as investing in the quality of cocoa. Existing cocoa growing methods deplete the soil, causing farmers to abandon their land and clear precious forests elsewhere to create new areas in which to cultivate their crop. UTZ CERTIFIED teaches farmers how to keep their land fertile in an environmentally-friendly way. ‘Our partnership with UTZ CERTIFIED creates two positives for us. First, we’ll be helping to make cocoa cultivation more sustainable, which is vital for the environment. Second, we’ll be helping to bring about a structural improvement in the economic position of the growers themselves,’ explains Patrick Reekmans, Managing Director of FrieslandCampina Benelux.

NGOs and the private sector join hands
The alliance between FrieslandCampina Benelux and UTZ CERTIFIED reflects a growing trend in which NGOs and private companies are increasingly forging partnerships and pooling their resources. ‘We chose UTZ CERTIFIED because the programme guarantees farmers an independent position on the market, with better quality products. This in turn gives the individual cocoa grower – and his family – a stronger social and economic position,’ says Reekmans.

The alliance with UTZ CERTIFIED ties in with Friesland Campina’s strategy to make its entire production chain sustainable. Part of this strategy involves the dairy company buying in as many sustainably produced raw materials as possible. In view of the large volumes with which FrieslandCampina works, cooperation with NGOs is essential. ‘The approach taken by UTZ CERTIFIED perfectly matches the cooperative background of our company,’ adds Reekmans. By 2020, FrieslandCampina Benelux hopes to use sustainably produced cocoa in all its products.

UTZ CERTIFIED: going beyond sustainable land use
UTZ CERTIFIED is a quality mark denoting responsibly produced coffee, cocoa and tea. The organisation encourages farmers to introduce social, economic and environmental improvements into their growing methods. Examples include more sustainable land use, avoiding harmful pesticides and complying with labour laws. UTZ CERTIFIED works closely with Solidaridad, an NGO which trains farmers locally and advises them on how to adapt their growing methods. The certification and traceability programme run by UTZ CERTIFIED clearly shows that cocoa has been responsibly produced. In addition to Solidaridad, the UTZ CERTIFIED programme is also supported by Oxfam Novib and WWF International.