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Author's profile photo Oyku Ilgar

Sustainable Easter: Chocolate’s Biggest Day Hops Into New Supply Chain Territory

With its colorful chocolate eggs and cute chocolate bunnies, Easter is the second most profitable time of the year for manufacturers and retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, the average U.S. consumer is expected to spend around $170 on Easter gifts and celebrations this year, totaling $20.8 billion. A whopping 90% of this is expected to be spent only on Easter chocolate and candies.

How to source, manufacture, design and deliver all of these treats remains a challenge. And now as the world becomes more socially and environmentally conscious, supply chains have one more thing to keep an eye on: sustainability.

Last year, Be Slavery Free, Green America, INKOTA, Mighty Earth, and National Wildlife Federation surveyed the world’s biggest cocoa traders, chocolate manufacturers, and retailers to find out how they are facing the global sustainability issues such as human rights due diligence, deforestation and climate change, agroforestry, living income policies and of course child labor.

While some companies won the Good Egg Award because of their performance on sustainability and their environmental work, some received the lowest mark “Rotten Egg Award” because of a lack of traceability in their supply chains.

But what does traceability really mean for chocolate supply chains?

Easter Bunny Tracker

Chocolate, as one of the planet’s best gifts to humanity, has a quite bad reputation. Not only from the sustainability perspective as its effects on deforestation or greenhouse gasses but also from the ethical perspective of how the beans are sourced.

Most of the world’s cocoa production runs in equatorial countries with Ghana and Ivory Coast, which is responsible for 50% of the global supply. In West Africa, where the Ivory Coast is, many national parks and forests are being exploited for increasing cocoa production. In the last 50 years, Ivory Coast has lost 80% of its forests, and with it, a huge opportunity to reduce tons of carbon emissions escaping into the atmosphere.

Let’s say one chocolate brand company in the US ordered cocoa from one of the producers in Ghana. After the beans are produced, pooled together, and packed by intermediaries – these might be farmers, unaffiliated traders, and exporters – beans are being exported to the bean purchaser without the responsibility of providing any documentation or data regarding the sourcing. This means that even the largest chocolate brands cannot ensure their products are sustainable without full traceability.

Sustainable chocolate production starts with traceability, in other words breaking down the siloes in supply chains to eliminate unmonitored links in the supply chain. Tracing the complete supply chain processes from sourcing of the raw materials to production, delivery, consumption, and even disposal enables manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors to identify the pain points, eliminate risks factors by anticipating the possible crisis, and to improving people’s lives alongside the supply chain.

Also, having the knowledge of ‘when, where and how the product is produced by whom’ helps consumers to make more conscious choices and transforms the chocolate industry to prioritize people and the planet.

 

Hunt for the sustainable packaging for guilt-free Easter

I, as a big chocolate fan, have always been fascinated by the colorful and shiny looking chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs in the aisles. However, they all come with a mountain of non-recyclable packaging that ends up in landfills.

What is the solution?

Luckily, there are some chocolate brands offering fair-trade chocolate in recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable packaging, so you can enjoy guilt-free Easter eggs. One of these is a chocolate brand from the UK, Montezumas, is using 100% paper and cards with sustainable ink, packaging tape, adhesive, and even a pallet wrap. After you are done with your vegan friendly, or milk chocolate, you don’t need to worry about leaving the packaging behind for future generations.

Not only conscious consumers or manufacturers but also governments are looking for ways to disincentivize the usage of unsustainable materials and to foster a sustainable circular economy. UK Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) is one of them. It applies each plastic packaging component manufactured or imported to the UK containing less than 30% recycled plastic.

Now companies must think not only about how they source their materials but also consider where their products end up—long after leaving the manufacturing plant. This leads manufacturers to design their products and packaging more sustainable. Moreover, if (and probably when) this tax is added to the price the customer’s pay, it ‘voluntarily’ increases the consciousness of choosing sustainable products.

The chocolate industry is the perfect example of how each of our individual choices can be destructive contributors or great innovators of the supply chain operations. The world needs sustainable-resilient supply chains to make people’s lives better.

 

This year, let’s try to make more sustainable choices for a guilt-free Easter.

Happy Easter!

 

Learn how sustainability can be a key ingredient of your supply chain processes here.

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