Moving Boundaries

How CÉMOI Is Committed to Sustainable Cocoa Production in Ivory Coast

As a private label supplier for METRO, French company CÉMOI has been offering delicious, high-quality chocolate for 20 years. Since CÉMOI started the Transparence Cacao Programme in 2015, in Ivory Coast the world’s biggest cocoa producer has been even more committed to sustainable cocoa cultivation. The goal of the initiative is to enforce fair production conditions for people and nature in that region.

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More transparency for greater sustainability

In Ivory Coast, formally Côte d’Ivoire, around 800,000 smallholders earn their living from cocoa cultivation. The dilemma: Often the income is barely enough to secure their livelihood. In order to increase yields and income, farmers consequently try to increase their cultivated areas through deforestation. Children often help with the work on the plantations. The low global market price and high export costs of raw cocoa have also contributed to poverty in the region.

With about 40% of the global market, Ivory Coast is the largest cocoa producer and supplier. Their problems must hence be seen in the context of society as a whole, explains Antoine Resk Diomandé, Corporate & Social Responsibility Head at CÉMOI. The company already addressed the topic of sustainability more than twenty years ago; with the Transparence Cacao Programme, initiated in 2015, it wants to expand its efforts internationally and involve retailers, customers and partners. The objective is to create full transparency for all parties involved. Highest quality is now considered equally important as traceability and production conditions.

Getting to the root of the problem

Transparence Cacao relies on collaboration with local farmers and suppliers for its projects. The production process of chocolate should be sustainable and comprehensible from beginning to end. One example of a key focus point in the sustainability initiative is the issue of deforestation: The forest surface area in Ivory Coast has dropped from 16 million hectares in 1960 to 3.4 million hectares in 2015. One reason for this decrease is deforestation to make room for new cocoa plantations.

Therefore, CÉMOI started a reforestation programme of previously cleared areas in 2016. Since then, the company has planted 600,000 new trees. ‘That means we’re well on the way to reaching our goal of planting 1.5 million trees total’, says Diomandé. However, to literally get to the root of the problem, pure reforestation is not enough, he says. It is more important to empower the local people and to use existing plantations more efficiently instead of cutting down trees in new areas.

Clearly defined goals to combat local poverty

Since 2019, CÉMOI has already trained 22,000 farmers to make the most efficient use of their agricultural land. In addition, 1,553 hectares of cocoa plants were rehabilitated and 15 community projects were funded. Another CÉMOI requirement is to make child labour a thing of the past. The vision: Children must be provided with the opportunity of proper education instead of working in the fields. CÉMOI collaborates with NGOs to raise awareness of this issue among local farming families. School projects and school materials are expected to provide children with a proper school education and a versatile future.

To further reduce poverty in that region, the Ivorian government, in cooperation with its Ghanaian neighbours, has announced the launch of a new pricing mechanism. Product buyers and suppliers such as CÉMOI now pay a 25% premium for raw cocoa. The premium is supposed to be used to guarantee a minimum price – an important step towards securing the livelihood of cocoa producers in the region.

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For METRO, it is important that the products we sell are as sustainable as possible. We work together with our suppliers continuously to make this a reality. We are happy to work with CEMOI in making our METRO Chef chocolate products more transparent and more sustainable.

Veronika Pountcheva, Global Director CR

METRO and CÉMOI – a sustainable partnership

CÉMOI ingredients are used in METRO Chef chocolate pastry and bakery products. CÉMOI’s commitment is in line with METRO’s efforts to make the ingredients of private labels even more sustainable and transparent. One thing is clear to Antoine Resk Diomandé: ‘We share the same values and want to make every step of our sustainability strategy visible in order to continue supplying high-quality chocolate to METRO.’

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