International Cocoa Certification Workshop details announced

London, 1 May 2013–Arrangements for the ICCO’s International Workshop on Cocoa Certification, scheduled for 24 – 27 June in Yaoundé, Cameroon are well advanced, with a strong speaker list from across the grower sector, the trade and industry set to discuss the controversial topic in all its aspects, the ICCO announced today.

Cocoa certification has been at the centre of intense debate in the international cocoa community ever since the subject was first introduced. From its initial perception as a niche market only five years ago, the share of Organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certified cocoa has surged to well over 10% of the market currently.  The cocoa and chocolate industry is under increasing pressure to demonstrate to consumers that the raw materials used in the manufacture chocolate comply with specific ethical and sustainability requirements.

This challenge is further exacerbated by the fact that certification is often perceived as a consumer-driven process, leading to doubts among many cocoa producers and their governments in relation to its benefits as far as they are concerned. In particular, an ICCO study in 2012 showed that the net direct monetary benefits may be rather limited in the short to medium term.  In addition, the co-existence of multiple standards in the sector has led to confusion among the parties involved in the various cocoa producing countries.

Dr Jean-Marc Anga, Executive Director of the ICCO, stated that “With Mars, Ferrero and Hershey committing to source 100% of their cocoa by 2020 as certified and with Nestlé and Mondelēz also making strong commitments in this respect, this represents a considerable challenge for the whole industry, as these five leading companies represent about 40% of global cocoa usage.  Most importantly, while certification as it is may help, getting cocoa farmers to trade their way out of poverty has to be the priority and a pre-condition for cocoa to be sustainable. Given the complexity of the cocoa value chain, all key stakeholders have to work together with this objective!”

In view of this, the Workshop, organized in collaboration with United Nations Forum on Sustainable Standards (UNFSS), aims to bring together all stakeholders involved in cocoa certification, with the aim of building consensus on the best ways to supplement and improve upon existing certification schemes, for the benefit of cocoa farmers–a necessary condition for the long-term viability of this process.

Participants will also benefit from the experience gathered from other commodities and other fora on this matter, in particular through the collaboration with the UNFSS, which was set up to discuss developing country concerns on private sustainability standards: pooling resources, synchronizing efforts and assuring policy coherence, coordination and collaboration among UN agencies the FAO, ITC, UNCTAD, UNEP and UNIDO.

The ICCO International Workshop on Cocoa Certification is to be based at the Hotel Mont-Fébé in Yaoundé, Cameroon, 24 -27 June. Details of the programme, as well as a registration form, hotel, travel and visa information are available by clicking here.