Picture: Antonino Allegra

Global snack maker Mondelēz International has announced it will be considering new environment, social and ethical factors when choosing where to source cocoa, its key ingredient. 

Mondelēz International owns Cadbury and produce among others chocolates, gum and biscuits.

Speaking on Thursday at a media roundtable in Johannesburg, Navisha Bechan-Sewkuran, Manager of Corporate and Government Affairs at Mondelez South, Central and East Africa, announced plans of adding the message “Helping Farmers to Grow” on their chocolate products.

The purpose of the roundtable was for Mondelez International and co-hosts, Bean There Coffee Company, to create a platform to discuss sustainable sourcing and why it was necessary.

Bechan-Sewkuran said sustainable sourcing was good for business as well as the empowerment of farmers, communities and future generations of cocoa farmers, particularly in rural cocoa growing areas.

In 2012, the company launched the Cocoa Life programme in West Africa Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, South America Brazil and Dominican Republic, Asia Indonesia and India.

“It is a well-known fact that the empowerment of women is in fact an empowerment of the entire community,” said Bechan-Sewkuran.

She said the Cocoa Life programme, invests in women by providing farmer training, improving financial literacy and resilience, and empowering them to earn an income and be active community leaders and members. 

In addition to that, the programme also helps to protect children from child labour in cocoa-growing communities by addressing its root causes as well as combatting climate change by reducing the company's carbon  footprint and addressing deforestation in the cocoa supply chain.

Bechan-Sewkuran said the company's intervention also includes helping communities identify ways of developing their land and diversifying their sources of income.

“Cocoa is a seasonal crop. It was important that we share skills with farmers and assist them to develop a Community Action Plan to ensure that they have a way of looking after themselves and have an income beyond the cocoa season,” Bechan-Sewkuran said.

Bean There Coffee Company founder Jonathan Robinson, who was one of the panellists, said they always strive to make a sustainable difference in the lives of African coffee producers by personally sourcing quality coffee through direct fair trade.

Robinson said many companies don't practice fair trade as an overall buying philosophy like they do. 

"By building sustainable relationships with our producers, we can offer the farmers a competitive price, regardless of negative market fluctuations," he said.

@Chulu_M