Chocolate is the ultimate feel-good treat, and at Ahold Delhaize, we want to make sure that everyone can feel good about the way it is produced. Over 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, where the majority is produced by hundreds of thousands of small farmers. These farmers face several problems including depleted soils, aging farms and farmers, pests and diseases, and low global cocoa prices.
All of this contributes to low productivity and low farmer income from cocoa, limiting their ability to invest in their farms, families and communities. Many of the environmental and social issues associated with cocoa production are rooted in the challenges of low yields and low farmer incomes. Improving agricultural practices can help a lot: Including the ways in which cocoa farmers care for their trees, or by replacing old trees with new ones. The ageing of the farmer population is another concern. To keep young people engaged in becoming the new generation farmers, it is key to educate on how cocoa farming is an interesting entrepreneurship opportunity.
Ahold Delhaize brands are working towards 100% sustainably certified cocoa in their own brand products. The certification systems that our brands use focus on improving yields, increasing farmer incomes, and decreasing environmental and social risks, like deforestation and child labor. Albert Heijn, our Dutch brand, has been a front-runner when it comes to sustainable cocoa and has managed to ensure that 100% of the cocoa sourced in its supply chains is certified, down to the smallest chocolate chip in each and every cookie. With our fully traceable Delicata chocolate we are setting the next step towards a fully slavery-free cocoa supply chain.
In 2021, 87% of own-brand products containing cocoa were certified against an acceptable standard.