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Importance of Sustainability in Cocoa Farming


Importance of Sustainability in Cocoa Farming

Companies that actively pursue sustainability are working to better their business on a global scale—affecting more than just their own business, but improving the work that can be done by the entire sector. Sustainability in cocoa farming, for instance, involves ensuring a continued supply of cocoa; but to guarantee that, Cargill—our parent company and the source of all our precious cocoa—has to work with the cocoa farmers responsible for growing it. Sustainability is about working to improve the livelihoods of those responsible for sourcing our ingredients, along with improving their communities and the landscapes in which cocoa is grown.

Think of sustainability as a global initiative that connects farmers from many different countries. It makes the work they do more valuable, which in turn encourages future generations to continue building better communities while supporting farming as a viable means of employment.

To better understand sustainability in cocoa farming and our approach to it we’re going to talk about Cargill’s Cocoa Promise.

Cargill’s Cocoa Promise

The Cargill Cocoa Promise highlights a commitment to improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities. This not only helps to ensure a long-term supply of cocoa for our business, but it promotes sustainability in the cocoa sector for generations to come. Because worldwide demand for chocolate only continues to grow, investing in a sustainable supply of cocoa now is of the utmost importance.

Our 85% of our sustainable cocoa is sourced directly from 400,000 farmers in five countries:

  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Cameroon
  • Indonesia
  • Ghana
  • Brazil

We support over 477 farmer organizations across these five countries. Besides working with farmer organizations, we’re also working closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, and industry partners to develop solutions to…

  • Farm profitability
  • Social services
  • Child labor

Working with cocoa farmers is important to us for many reasons, among them is ensuring that cocoa farming remains viable and that the communities and their farmers no longer struggle with poverty.

To ensure a continued supply of cocoa, cocoa farming must be able to provide an attractive income for both current and future generations. Our ongoing work focuses on addressing poverty in every cocoa community we source our cocoa from because we know their success contributes to not only the success of our business, but the entire sector as well.

Some of the work we’ve done to address poverty among our cocoa farmers includes building over 3,000 schools to educate future generations. We’ve also placed special emphasis on professionalizing cocoa farming—providing training to more than 140,000 farmers on everything from best practices in agriculture to a better grasp on the cocoa market.

Currently we’re working to eliminate child labor, empower female cocoa farmers, and create more than 175 savings and loan programs in Ghana and the Ivory Coast to improve earning potential and the livelihoods of farmers and their communities.

Our goals have always been focused on improving farmer and community livelihoods. By working toward a truly sustainable model, we’re able to help build the socio-economic resilience of cocoa farmers, protect the environment, and improve the transparency of our supply chain.

It has taken since 2012 to get where we are today in our sustainability initiative but we know there’s still a lot of work ahead of us. Although our achievements started with our work with farmer organizations, it has evolved into helping them become more professional and business-oriented. This not only allows us to achieve greater progress together, but also helps deliver better farmer training, farm development, and support for their communities. 

To make as much progress as we can with our goals, we’ve identified five key goals that will aid us in achieving cocoa sustainability by 2030.


By focusing on five goals that we know we can make an impact on, it lays the groundwork for future goals and achievements.

How consumers can help sustainability in the cocoa sector

The first thing consumers can do to support sustainability is become discerning consumers. This means taking note of what’s on a product’s packaging. Is it Fairtrade? Does the company work with any organizations to ensure their product—from start to finish—is sourced and created safely and responsibly? When you purchase something from a company that doesn’t follow best practices or isn’t attempting to reduce their business’s impact on the environment, then that purchase supports those companies and their practices. That’s why paying attention to what you buy, and who it’s from, is so important.

UTZ, Rainforest International, and Fairtrade are all certification labels consumers can use to identify companies that are investing in cocoa sustainability. The certifications provide premiums to farmers and their organizations, providing an incentive for them to invest in better farming practices and community services. There are many larger companies who have made strong commitments to cocoa sustainability and being able to identify their products allows consumers to support that initiative as well.

Products like Wilbur Buds and Wilbur Chocolate Candy Bars are UTZ Certified products. Every time one of these items is sold, it directly impacts cocoa sustainability efforts!

By investing in responsibly and sustainably sourced cocoa—whether you purchase a product that uses Cargill’s cocoa or you buy the cocoa itself—you’re helping us. Contributing to our efforts working with cocoa farmers helps us improve their livelihoods and to ensure that the future supply of cocoa does not come free. Why? Because low cocoa prices reduce the viability of cocoa farming for people in countries where cocoa is cultivated and farmed, which drives those same people to seek alternative forms of employment.

When consumers are willing to pay for sustainable products, we’re able to continue investing in certifications and programs for cocoa farmers, making the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities better, and securing a long-term supply of cocoa for our business.