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Sustainable cocoa

A cocoa fruit held open showing the cocoa beans inside


Cocoa is a key ingredient in our confectionery products, especially chocolate. But cultivating cocoa presents numerous challenges, like deforestation, child labor risks and low incomes for cocoa farming households.

The Nestlé Cocoa Plan, along with Rainforest Alliance certification, allows us to take steps to address these social and environmental issues to create a sustainable cocoa supply chain. We are committed to sourcing 100% of our cocoa through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan by 2025.

Our progress toward sustainable cocoa

50.6 %

Our approach to sustainable cocoa

The Nestlé Cocoa Plan is how we are building a more sustainable supply chain for cocoa. We are working with farmers, communities and local and international organizations to develop and implement solutions to the numerous challenges facing cocoa-farming communities.

As well as our work with farming communities, we aim to ensure that our cocoa suppliers comply with our Responsible Sourcing Standard.

Our work is in three pillars:

  • Better Farming:
    providing training and resources to help farmers improve their crops, increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods.
    Cocoa farmers
  • Better Lives:
    tackling child labor, empowering women and improving education to help communities thrive.
    Young African student
  • Better cocoa:
    enhancing supply chain traceability and tackling deforestation.
    Hand picking cocoa beans

Better farming

Examples of how we are helping farmers improve their crops and livelihoods include our Income Accelerator Program and our farmer training initiatives.

Incentivizing prosperity with the Income Accelerator Program

Many farmers face extreme challenges to secure a living income for themselves and their families. This can drive them to make choices that are not sustainable, such as cutting down trees to access more land to grow more cocoa.

That is why we launched the Income Accelerator Program, building on a decade of work to help improve farmer livelihoods through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. Using financial incentives, we aim to tackle many of the issues cocoa farming families encounter and encourage behavior change for delivering sustainable economic growth.

The Income Accelerator Program pays cash incentives directly to farming families for activities such as school enrollment, sustainable agricultural practices, planting shade trees and introducing additional income streams.

Read more about our Income Accelerator Program.

Regenerating cocoa farms through leadership training

Jean Marie Koffi Kouadio began working on his father’s farm in 2013, taking over after his father's death three years later. In 2015, he was invited to join the Nestlé Elite Farmer program.

The training provided has allowed him to improve his farm management and business skills through:

  • Planning and managing cash flow, margins, loans, savings, diversification and household management.
  • Farm rejuvenation by increasing the variety of cocoa grown and diversifying.
  • Becoming a lead farmer and sharing his agripreneurial mindset and learning with fellow farmers.
  • Participating in several international conferences to share his experiences.

Better lives

We are helping improve the lives of cocoa-farming families through our work to tackle child labor risks and set up Village Savings and Loans Associations.

Tackling child labor risks in our cocoa supply chain

Child labor risks are a complex and challenging issue in our cocoa supply chain, and is affected by many factors, including poverty, demographics, education, infrastructure and local culture. We work with supply chain partners and local communities in West Africa to address the risk of child labor.

Since 2012, a key element in our work has been our Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), which enables us to identify children at risk, raise awareness and provide remediation.

Our remediation work has helped children identified as being involved in hazardous work to stop performing those tasks at the first follow up visit. With poverty being a cause of child labor risks, supporting the livelihoods of cocoa-farming communities, through our Income Accelerator Program for example, is also an important part of our strategy.

Further insights into the successes and challenges of running CLMRS in Côte d'Ivoire can be found in our Tackling Child Labor report (pdf, 5.7Mb) and our Creating Shared Value and Sustainability report 2021.

Read more about our approach to tackling child labor risks.

Helping cocoa communities grow by saving money

Many individuals, communities and villages in cocoa-growing areas find it difficult to save money. We are supporting efforts to help them through a community approach. 

The Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) scheme openly ensures that everyone can see how much money is paid into a secure box and how much is going out if someone needs assistance. At the end of each annual cycle, accumulated savings are distributed back to members with interest.

This demonstrates that communities can save and provide support to individuals when needed, creating trust and bringing the community together. It also enables people to save for bigger purchases or to start their own businesses. Once trained, the communities can run the funds themselves, enabling the whole village to become more resilient.

Better cocoa

We work closely with direct suppliers and partners to trace the cocoa we source back to the individual farmer and implement practices such as shade-tree planting to help tackle deforestation.

Increasing traceability in a complex cocoa supply chain

Our cocoa is largely grown by smallholders. Our approach is to work with farmer co-operatives - these group farmers together provide traceability and records for all their purchases from each individual farmer.

We aim to bring about lasting change and transform how we source our cocoa, to achieve full traceability and segregation of our cocoa products, from origin to factory.

This will drive greater supply chain transparency and accountability, both internally and on an industry-wide scale, while giving our consumers more visibility of the source of their ingredients. This is critical to effectively addressing child labor and deforestation risks in cocoa production.

Our direct Tier 1 suppliers manage the commercial relationship with these co-operatives and most of their sustainability activities, including Rainforest Alliance certification where relevant. 

The Nestlé team manages some aspects directly, including the supervision of shade tree nurseries, gender training for co-operatives and the development of video training. We also trial new ideas that our suppliers can scale up. We aim to develop long-term relationships with co-operatives, and several have been working with us for over eight years.

building relationships with co-operatives

Encouraging shade management to protect the environment

Cocoa plants grow better, and produce better crops, when grown in the shade. 

As part of our Net Zero Roadmap and Income Accelerator Program, we are encouraging farmers to plant more shade trees to protect their crops from heat stress and excessive rainfall. We aim to have 2.8 million shade trees planted by the end of 2022.

These trees will also help to improve water management, local biodiversity, soil organic matter and carbon sequestration, while providing an additional income source for farmers.

Reporting transparently on deforestation

Since 2020, we have published an annual Tackling Deforestation Report (pdf, 10.3Mb).

The report details our work to address deforestation and promote regenerative practices among cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Some highlights from the report include our distribution of over half a million forest trees to cocoa fields for planting and details of extensive farmland mapping, carried out to protect against deforestation.

Our Tackling Deforestation Report is part of our commitment to the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) and is how we report progress toward our CFI Action Plan (pdf, 860Kb).

In June 2021, we launched our Forest Positive strategy to build on our work to end deforestation in our supply chains. Forest Positive means moving beyond just managing deforestation risks in our supply chain to having a positive impact on our broader sourcing landscapes.

Transforming cocoa production through collaboration

The Nestlé Cocoa Plan is helping transform cocoa supply chains beyond Nestlé. For example, we implemented a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS), which many companies have now adopted as a leading tool for tackling child labor risks.

We are dedicated to improving societal and sustainability standards throughout our cocoa supply chains. That is why we have been a dedicated member of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative since it was established.

It is also why, in April 2020, we joined the Child Learning and Education Facility coalition. Through this organization, we are supporting the development of quality education in rural communities in Côte d'Ivoire. The coalition has been promoted by the Jacobs Foundation, with whom Nestlé already partners to develop training for young people as part of the Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities program.

In addition, we work with industry partners to call for stronger policies. Alongside various cocoa and chocolate manufacturers and civil society organizations, we have published a joint position paper on the European Union’s policy and regulatory approach to cocoa. In it, we call for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence to be established, alongside stronger partnerships with producer governments to ensure sustainable cocoa.

Cocoa farmers discussing best practice

We want to accelerate improving farming households’ livelihoods – and we believe that the sustainable production of cocoa has a critical role to play by benefitting local communities, regenerating the environment and spurring economic development.

I have a vision of becoming a young farmer leader who will:
1. Strongly involve well-trained young men and women in agricultural entrepreneurship by promoting success stories.
2. Expand the family farm business with more resources (diversification, intensive production, preservation of the environment and fighting against child labor).
3. Develop more professional and stronger farmer organizations.

Creating Shared Value and Sustainability Report