Green & Black’s New Ethical Chocolate?

Green & Black’s is introducing its new Velvet Edition dark chocolate in the UK this month. The new bar will have cocoa beans from the Dominican Republic that are not certified organic or fairtrade. The cocoa beans meet the standards of its parent company’s Cocoa Life initiative, which sees the cocoa firm act as an “accountable partner” for cocoa farmers, rather than just a buyer.

Mondelez’ Northern Europe president Glenn Caton said: “These beans are not available in organic at the scale required for Green and Black’s, but I am proud that they are sustainably sourced, independently verified beans from the Cocoa Life programme, of which Fairtrade will ensure we remain an accountable partner for farmers.”

Green & Black’s has been a historic supporter of the Fairtrade initiative, first placing the iconic logo onto packaging in 1994. Other than the new Velvet edition, all Green & Black’s products will continue to carry the Fairtrade logo.

This isn’t the first instance of Mondelez reducing the visibility of Fairtrade amongst its portfolio. In December last year, the firm placed all Cadbury’s products under the Coca Life initiative. As a result of the single-branding solution, previously Fairtrade-certified Cadbury Dairy Milk products no longer carry the Fairtrade logo on the front of packaging.

The Cocoa Life initiative is supported by a number of on-ground NGOs including Fairtrade, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), Save The Children, CARE International, World Vision and Solidaridad. Additionally, Mondelez will bring in experts from organisations like WWF, the UN Development Programme and the Anti-Slavery International to oversee accountability of the initiative.

Since its launch in 2012, the Cocoa Life programme has given more than 76,000 farmers a significant increase in their income and cocoa yield. Mondelez will invest USD 400m over the next 10 years to fund sustainable cocoa production across the globe.

Ecovia Intelligence Comment
The new Green & Black’s chocolate bar is getting a mixed response from the sustainable food community. On one side, there are critics who believe the brand is no longer true to its dark green values. Green & Black’s made its name as the premier ethical chocolate, as it was the first to use fairtrade and organic cocoa beans. On the other side, pragmatists say this is positive in that more cocoa beans are ethically sourced – albeit by the Cocoa Life programme. By waiting for sufficient organic and fairtrade cocoa beans supply, the brand was missing out on business opportunities.

The merits of third party sustainability standards (such as organic and fairtrade) and in-house schemes (such as Cocoa Life and Harmony of Mondelez Foods) are frequently debated at the Sustainable Foods Summit. The 3rd Latin American edition of this executive summit will be hosted in São Paulo on 18-20th September, whilst the premier Asia-Pacific edition will take place in Singapore on 28-30th November. More details are on the website

Source: / Ecovia Intelligence (04/08)