Chocolate’s biggest day enters new supply chain territory

Of Öyku IlgarSAP

With its colorful chocolate eggs and sweet chocolate bunnies, Easter is the second most profitable time of the year for manufacturers and retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, the average US consumer is expected to spend around $170 on Easter gifts and celebrations this year, totaling $20.8 billion. A whopping 90% of that is expected to be spent just on Easter chocolate and sweets.

Sourcing, manufacturing, designing and delivering all of these goodies remains a challenge. And now, as the world becomes more social and environmentally conscious, supply chains need to keep one more thing in mind: sustainability.

Over the past year, Be Slavery Free, Green America, INKOTA, Mighty Earth and the National Wildlife Federation surveyed the world’s largest cocoa traders, chocolate makers and retailers to find out how they are tackling global sustainability issues such as human rights due diligence, deforestation and climate change, agroforestry, living income policies and of course child labor.

While some companies have received the Good Egg Award for their sustainability and environmental work achievements, some have received the worst grade, the Rotten Egg Award, for a lack of traceability in their supply chains.

But what does traceability really mean for chocolate supply chains?

Easter Bunny Tracker

Chocolate, as one of the planet’s finest gifts to humanity, gets a pretty bad rap. Not just from a sustainability perspective, like the impact on deforestation or greenhouse gases, but also from an ethical perspective, like how the beans are sourced.

Most of the world’s cocoa production occurs in equatorial countries with Ghana and Ivory Coast accounting for 50% of the world’s supply. In West Africa, where Ivory Coast is located, many national parks and forests are being exploited to increase cocoa production. In the last 50 years, Côte d’Ivoire has lost 80% of its forests, giving it a great opportunity to reduce tons of carbon emissions escaping into the atmosphere.

MORE FROM FORBESSAP BrandVoice: 5 actions for a sustainable supply chain

Suppose a chocolate brand company in the USA orders cocoa from one of the producers in Ghana. After the beans are produced, pooled and packaged by middlemen, which can be farmers, independent traders and exporters, the beans are exported to the buyer of the beans with no responsibility for providing documentation or data on sourcing. This means that without full traceability, even the biggest chocolate brands cannot ensure their products are sustainable.

Sustainable chocolate production starts with traceability, i.e. breaking down the silos in supply chains to eliminate uncontrolled links in the supply chain. Tracing the entire supply chain processes from the sourcing of raw materials to production, delivery, consumption and even disposal allows manufacturers, suppliers and distributors to identify vulnerabilities, eliminate risk factors by anticipating the possible crisis, and at the same time protect people’s lives to improve the supply chain.

Knowing when, where and how the product is made by whom helps consumers make more informed choices and transforms the chocolate industry to put people and the planet first.

Look for the sustainable packaging for a guilt-free Easter

As a big chocolate fan, I have always been fascinated by the colorful and glossy looking chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs in the aisles. However, they all come with a mountain of non-recyclable packaging that ends up in landfills.

What is the solution?

Luckily, there are some chocolate brands that offer fair trade chocolate in recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable packaging, so you can enjoy Easter eggs guilt-free. One of these is a UK chocolate brand, Montezumas, which uses 100% paper and card with sustainable ink, packaging tape, glue and even pallet packaging. After you’re done with your vegan or milk chocolate, there’s no need to worry about leaving the packaging for future generations.

MORE FROM FORBESSAP BrandVoice: Sustainable packaging for retailers offers a guilt-free shopping experience

Not only conscious consumers or manufacturers, but also governments are looking for ways to prevent the use of unsustainable materials and promote a sustainable circular economy. The UK Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) is one of them. It applies to any plastic packaging component manufactured or imported into the UK that contains less than 30% recycled plastic.

Now companies have to think not only about where they source their materials from, but also where their products end up – long after they leave the manufacturing facility. This leads manufacturers to make their products and packaging more sustainable. Furthermore, if (and probably when) this tax is added to the price to be paid by the customer, it will “voluntarily” increase awareness of the choice of sustainable products.

The chocolate industry is the perfect example of how each of our individual choices can make destructive contributions or major innovators to supply chain operations. The world needs sustainably resilient supply chains to improve people’s lives.

This year, let’s try to make more sustainable choices for a guilt-free Easter.

Happy Easter!

Learn how sustainability can be an important part of your supply chain processes here.

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