London, 20 March 2014 — The home of the world’s highest per capita consumers of chocolate became the appropriate venue for the 89th session of the International Cocoa Council, hosted by the kind invitation of the Government of Switzerland, at the Radisson Blu Zurich Airport hotel in Zurich, 7 – 11 March.

Delegates were welcomed to Switzerland by the State Secretary, Her Excellency Marie-Gabrielle Ineischen-Fleisch, who reminded delegates of her country’s crucial role in the world’s chocolate sector, and also highlighted ongoing Swiss efforts in developing   sustainability in the cocoa supply chain.

Among the issues under discussion in Zurich were the plans for the second edition of the World Cocoa Conference (WCC) at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam in June, and ICCO Executive Director Dr. Jean-Marc Anga was able to report that four Ministers were already scheduled to be on hand officially to open the event. Besides an attractive slate of speakers and panellists from around the world, he added, the Amsterdam WCC was already guaranteed to bring together a host of top executives from the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate companies.

Dr. Anga also explained that cocoa farmers from all over the world were to be sponsored to attend the Conference, bringing their voices to the debate on the most important issues in cocoa that were to be tackled at the meeting.

The World Cocoa Foundation, CAOBISCO and the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH among several others, were all involved in special sessions to take place alongside the main Conference, Dr. Anga said, and the Dutch group of stakeholder organizations was planning on holding a series of interactive sessions to enlarge on and develop the themes of the WCC. To top it all off, he said, the Conference Dinner is to be held in Amsterdam’s spectacular National Maritime Museum and is set to become 2014’s premier cocoa networking opportunity.

At the accompanying meeting of the enlarged, private sector-led Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy, Dr. Anna Laven of the Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands outlined the new blogs that are being created on the Cocoa Connect website to tie together the themes to be addressed at the Amsterdam WCC.

A report on the recently concluded second Certification Workshop was also presented to the Consultative Board, highlighting progress in identifying commonalities in standards and benefits for all stakeholders, and especially cocoa producers. While the social and environmental pillars of sustainability were already being addressed, the participants of the workshop found that it was the economic pillar—which encompasses farmer livelihoods—that still required much work.

Taking its cue from the Workshop itself, part of the Board’s sessions were conducted using an interactive ‘forum’ technique, inviting small groups of participants to discuss significant topics around tables of 12, each complete with a moderator and rapporteur. This method was found by the participants to be both stimulating and practical, and is being considered as a regular fixture for future ICCO meetings.

Council Chairman Anna Tofftén of Sweden who presided over the main meeting, introduced Dr. Stephen Opuni, the new CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board, and the Council considered reports from the ICCO’s Economics and Administration and Finance Committees, which both met alongside the Council in Zurich.

The Council noted with regret that the Zurich meeting would be the final appearance of the Spokesman of the Consuming Countries, Mr. Rüdiger Ohst of Germany, who had served with distinction for several years, but was moving to a new role within his government.

A taste of Switzerland was offered to the Council delegates with a demonstration of fine chocolate making by Zurich-based confectionery giant Lindt & Sprüngli, whose master chocolatiers showed the way that quality cocoa, in the right hands, can create the sort of attractive and tasty products that are loved by consumers worldwide.



Click to download presentations from the Zurich meetings:


Royal Tropical Institute (KIT, Netherlands)

Brazil / CEPLAC Cameroon / ONCC

Indonesia – Public Private Partnerships

Switzerland – Sustainability

Germany / GIZ – Cocoa Food Link Programme

World Cocoa Foundation – Planting Material

ICCO World Cocoa Economy – Present and Future

Outcome of the Zurich Certification Workshop

London, 18 March 2014 — Over 70 stakeholders from Europe, the US, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia took part in the ICCO’s second International Workshop on Cocoa Certification in Zurich, Switzerland on 6 and 7 March, the Organization reported today.

The Workshop, organized in close cooperation with the United Nations Forum on Sustainable Standards (UNFSS), included cocoa producers, representatives of cocoa exporting and importing country governments, the cocoa and chocolate industry, certification bodies, civil society and international agencies.

Following up on the first ICCO Cocoa Certification workshop, held in Douala, Cameroon in June 2013, the Zurich workshop added to the interactive combination of presentations, interviews and panel discussions with a new forum session that invited a cross section of stakeholders to discuss the important issues in more intimate groups of 12. The tremendous energy generated by this forum had very positive participation and results.

At the workshop, ICCO-commissioned consultant Aimee Russillo presented a working document that provided the broad outline to allow the participants to begin creating a reference framework of commonalities for sustainable cocoa.

The main objective of the workshop was to assist existing and emerging national and international sustainability-related standards to develop a common framework, using a set of commonly agreed pre-competitive, minimum requirements, up to a threshold level, beyond which individual certification standards would be free to compete with one another based on their unique specific requirements, taking into account the demands of individual consumer market segments.

There was agreement at the end of the workshop that there are benefits for all stakeholders along the value chain in coming up with a simplified common language, a reference point and guide, prioritizing actions and strategies, being transparent about the roles and actions of those involved, and about progress on key issues. Other benefits, the stakeholders found, were flexibility, scalability and accessibility, affordability and comparing indicators for impact assessment and measurements, as well as reducing auditing procedures and costs.

The stakeholders agreed that long term sustainability in the cocoa sector required reaching out to the unorganized cocoa farmers (estimated at 80% of the total) to provide them with the required assistance.

While recognizing that sustainability in cocoa is a shared responsibility between all stakeholders, the participants also understood that certification is only one tool within a group of interventions supporting the sustainable development of the sector.

Other instruments, such as adequate investments in farmers, in order to address the production and supply side for sustainable production are also necessary. This has to be complemented by investments in sustainable trade and non-monetized, public good infrastructure. Stakeholder cooperation in the framework of national platforms for public private partnerships (PPPs) is a critical success factor. PPPs with governments as lead actors, including all stakeholders in an inclusive, transparent and participatory approach, are the best vehicles to deliver sustainability, and existing standard systems should aim to operate within the PPPs. A continuous improvement process, including key impact indicators to monitor and evaluate actions, is necessary for the common framework to make step-by-step progress. There must be information transparency, and data must be available and shared at all levels.

The ICCO and UNFSS will continue to support and facilitate the development of the common framework as a guide for cocoa sustainability. They will particularly focus on the gaps identified by the participants in the economic pillar of sustainability, under which the producer should be adequately rewarded.

Click on any of the highlighted presentations in the programme below to download that presentation.

A full report of the Zurich cocoa certification workshop is available for download by clicking here. A summary of the outcome of the Forum section of the Workshop can be downloaded here. A presentation of the outcome of the workshop is available for download here.


08.30 Registration




Opening remarks:

  • Hans-Peter Egler, Head Trade Promotion, SECO
  • Jean-Marc Anga, Executive Director, ICCO
  • Chris Wunderlich, UNFSS Coordinator


A presentation of the outcome of the workshop is available for download here.

10.30 Cocoa Break





Panel discussions with stakeholders involved in standards systems on the way forward.

Chair: Aimee Russillo, Managing Partner, Liseed Consulting


  • Götz Schroth, Senior Manager Cocoa, Sustainable Agriculture Division, Rainforest Alliance
  • Rüdiger Meyer, CEO, FLO-CERT GmbH
  • Han de Groot, Executive Director, UTZ Certified
  • Ulrich Helberg, Coordinator, Certification Capacity Enhancement (CCE)
  • Karin Kreider, Executive Director, ISEAL Alliance
  • Jack Steijn, Chair CEN Committee 415 on sustainable and traceable cocoa
12.30 Lunch

Presentations by cocoa producing countries on national standards

Chair: Michiel Hendriksz, Director Sustainability, ADM International Sarl, Cocoa Division


Panel discussions

16.00 Cocoa Break

Panel discussions comprising representatives from the cocoa and chocolate industry.

Chair: Lee Choon Hui, Director General, Malaysian Cocoa Board


  • Darell High, Nestle
  • Cathy Pieters (Cocoa Life Program Director), Mondelēz International
  • Michiel Hendriksz, Director Sustainability, ADM International Sarl, Cocoa Division
  • Daudi Lelijveld, VP Cocoa Sustainability & MD Biolands, Barry Callebaut AG
  • Simon Brayn-Smith, Olam International
18.00 End of Session


09.00 Panel discussions with Civil Society Organizations / NGOs:

Chair: JensSoth, Expert and Advisor to SECO, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation


  • Hans Perk, Global cocoa programme coordinator, Solidaridad
  • Manfred Borer, Sustainable Cocoa Production Program, Swisscontact
  • Friedel Hutz-Adams, Sudwind/Voice
10.00 Cocoa break


Lee Choon Hui, Director General, Malaysian Cocoa Board

Cocoa Forum: Participants group into five tables, with twelve members in each group to be chaired by a moderator and assisted by a rapporteur to discuss four key questions:

  • 1) What are the gaps to have a common framework accepted by your stakeholders?
  • 2) What could be the solutions to fill those gaps?
  • 3) How do we get “buy-in” from you and your stakeholders?
  • 4) Possible role for ICCO & UNFSS in moving this process forward?

Moderators: Jens Soth and Aimee Russillo

Forum Results

12.00 Lunch


Recommendations on the way forward

  • Strategy: Practical actions on how the industry, certification initiatives and cocoa producing countries can work together using an integrated approach
  • Practical actions on how the ICCO and UNFSS can facilitate the process

Closing session and adoption of recommendations on the way forward