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Putting Sustainable Chocolate On The Menu

Author: Laura Higham, FAI Farm

Chocolate, for many of us in lockdown, has been a source of comfort and indulgence during uncertain times. Whilst the industry has seen a short-term slump in recent months due to restaurant closures, the global market is still worth over US$130 billion, with its value expected to grow as it captures demand from emerging markets and capitalises on evolving consumer preferences.

But what is the impact of our chocolate habit on animals and the environment? Citizens are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of their food choices, especially those containing animal products, and efforts within the industry are now turning to the unsung hero of delicious chocolate – milk. Dairy products are key ingredients bringing sustainability impacts, as well as opportunities to improve the wellbeing of people, animals and the planet.

FAI has worked with the largest global chocolate manufacturer, Barry Callebaut, for over three years. Together, we have developed a unique dairy sustainability programme that helps the company’s suppliers and farmers to adopt best-practices in support of cow welfare, farm performance and environmental stewardship. Using these themes, we have set the benchmark by devising the VisionDairy Charter, detailing the ambitions, core criteria and leadership positions to advance dairy farming standards. Through our data-centred framework for measuring impact, we are using animal welfare, human wellbeing and environmental outcome measures to drive progress.

Sabine Fortmann, Sustainability Manager Sourcing EMEA at Barry Callebaut said: “As Barry Callebaut , we have made a commitment to have 100% sustainable ingredients in our products by 2025. This includes dairy, which is one of the main ingredients we use in our chocolates. We have partnered with FAI to set up our innovative VisionDairy program to address sustainability and drive positive impact in our global dairy supply chains.

For FAI, sustainability is a continuous journey not a tick box exercise. It involves a process to define, understand and benchmark the challenges faced by our clients and their supply chains, and establish a roadmap for monitoring and driving continuous improvement, aiming for best practice. We deploy the ‘3Es’ framework of Economic, Environmental and Ethical sustainability, to ensure we are always considering the animal, human and environmental dimensions of food production.

By understanding the sustainability challenges faced by Barry Callebaut’s global dairy supply chain, we compiled 15 VisionDairy principles (see Text Box). These are implemented in practice through herd health planning, phasing out cow tethering, reducing antibiotic use, ensuring compliance with human rights standards, supporting worker training and development, measuring and capturing carbon emissions, and enhancing on-farm biodiversity, amongst many other actions detailed in a newly published handbook for suppliers.

Barry Callabaut's 15 VisionDairy Principles

  1. Optimise animal welfare
  2. Provide quality, nutritious and sustainable diets
  3. Deliver quality calf care
  4. Practice responsible antimicrobial use
  5. Employ humane slaughter and transport practices
  6. Build healthy and productive herds
  7. Efficiently produce safe, high quality milk
  8. Uphold the human rights of workers
  9. Support the health and wellbeing of workers
  10. Develop the knowledge and skills of workers
  11. Reduce carbon footprints
  12. Protect environmental water quality
  13. Support soil health
  14. Minimise use of fresh water
  15. Conserve and enhance biodiversity

More information on Barry Callebaut’s dairy programme can be found on their website. For an overview of their progress to have 100% sustainable ingredients in all of their products by 2025, please see Forever Chocolate, Barry Callebaut's commitment to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025.