PLC | Sustainability

Working with Industry - Cocoa

Tesco is committed to improving working conditions within our supply chains and empowering workers. In the cocoa industry challenges of child labour are well documented and high levels of poverty combined with limited access to education increase the risk of labour exploitation. In recent years there has also been a greater focus on cocoa as a driver of deforestation.

To ensure that all our cocoa is sourced responsibly we conducted a business-wide review of our Own Brand cocoa sourcing. This included speaking to a number of industry stakeholders and reviewing sustainability programs that ensure good practices. We subsequently made a number of commitments regarding our sourcing.

To ensure that we are sourcing responsibly, all of the cocoa required for our Own Brand chocolate confectionary sold in the UK is sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Additionally, all the cocoa used in our other Own Brand products (such as biscuits, cakes, desserts and cereals) is responsibly sourced through a combination of responsible cocoa programs – Rainforest AllianceCocoa Horizons, and Fairtrade. We have evaluated each one of these according to our core responsibility requirements including:

  1. Being third party independently verified or certified,
  2. Promoting more environmentally sustainable cocoa agriculture, and
  3. Promoting farmer livelihoods and enhanced productivity,
  4. Promoting better labour conditions on cocoa farms and children’s education,
  5. Looking to benefit cocoa communities overall through the enhancement of the above.

Each program helps cocoa farmers to grow their cocoa in a more sustainable and ethical way, promoting good agricultural practices, helping them achieve higher yields, and helping them to increase their incomes. The programmes also help grow awareness of ethical labour conditions for workers and the importance of education for children. Through all our cocoa sourcing, we will therefore be helping to benefit farmers, their families, the environment in which they grow their cocoa trees, and the wider community.

Retailer Cocoa Collaboration

While certification is a part of the solution, we also recognise that on its own, it is not sufficient to transform the industry and fully address complex challenges such as deforestation and improved livelihoods.

Our experience working with other deforestation risk commodities in our supply chain has taught us some valuable lessons:

  • Collaboration with other retailers provides an effective and efficient way to support change and grow our leverage;
  • Harmonised approaches by retailers are preferred by our supply chain partners;
  • There are key levers for us to drive change in typically long and complicated commodity supply chains.

With these points in mind, the most effective role we can play in supporting the environmental and social improvements in the cocoa sector is through engagement with supply chain traders through a collaborative retailer approach.

As a result, Tesco co-led the establishment of the Retailer Cocoa Collaboration (RCC) in 2018 which now has 10 retail members. The principle activity of the RCC is the Annual Trader Assessment. This is a robust process whereby major traders of cocoa are assessed on progress in cocoa sustainability, covering topics such as deforestation, traceability, gender equality, farmer incomes and child and forced labour. More information including the RCC annual progress report can be found here.