deforestation amazon GettyImages-115969525

As much as it pains us to say it, most of the chocolate products we all love have a not-so-sweet side. In addition to persistent child labour and exploitation issues, cocoa is a significant driver of deforestation, and there is an immediate need to address this.

In Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, 80-95% of forests have been lost over the past 60 years, and one third of that has been caused by cocoa farming.

Last December at COP28, the UK government announced that deforestation due diligence legislation would soon be brought forward, to implement provisions previously outlined in the Environment Act 2021. This means companies who sell products in the UK will have to take reasonable care to ensure their products aren’t grown in illegally deforested land. This is a great step forward, but in our opinion, the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

We were pleased to hear the announced legislation will include cocoa as one of the commodities in scope. However, last week’s parliamentary session on the laws served to highlight that the current focus on only illegal deforestation is not enough. Any form of deforestation should be included for the legislation to be effective, and to avoid the risk of countries of origin removing existing national laws to protect forests.

Also, cocoa farmers and co-operatives must not bear the cost burden of becoming compliant – the companies themselves should be responsible for this. Based on the dire state of forests globally and the need for action, we urge the UK government to bring forward legislation as soon as possible.

Our solution at Tony’s is our five sourcing principles, which address the issues in a systemic and long-lasting way. We pay a higher price for cocoa that enables farmers to earn a living income; we commit to long-term contracts to guarantee income security and enable investments over longer time periods; we work with partner co-operatives as our direct and equal business partners; we support the improvement of quality and productivity to increase yields, which ensures more cocoa is sourced from existing farms and there is no need to encroach into protected areas; and we have 100% traceability – social, operational and environmental – in our supply chain.

Traceability is the foundation of our approach. We have detailed insight into who is working where and under what conditions throughout our entire supply chain. All farms we source cocoa from, no matter the size, are GPS polygon mapped to ensure no cocoa is growing in protected or deforested land. It’s thanks to this we can state with confidence 100% of our cocoa is verified deforestation-free. This data is owned by our partner co-operatives, which means they can use it to make informed decisions.

We call for broader mandatory due diligence legislation that encompasses both environmental harms and human rights violations, to ensure the products we all enjoy do not cause the exploitation of people or planet.