Dutch retailer partners with IDH to stock shelves with only sustainable cocoa

When you visit Albert Heijn (AH) in the near future, feel good knowing all of their locations will be stocked with their house brand chocolate made only with sustainable cocoa. It’s thanks to a new partnership between AH, a major grocery retailer in the Netherlands, and IDH, to scale up the Open Chain concept (created by Tony’s Chocolonely).

AH has taken the lead as a retailer with this sustainable initiative. And their announcement details their innovative collaboration with IDH as part of the Cocoa Origins program, which will make an even greater impact using the Open Chain process.

Transparency from source to shelf

Sustainable cocoa production can only be achieved if there is transparency from start to finish in the food chain: from source to shelf. With AH’s participation, the Cocoa Origins program will support the roll-out of Open Chain to implement sustainability projects that are based on five golden Sourcing Principles, which are to:

  1. source traceable cocoa beans
  2. provide a higher price for cocoa paid to the cocoa farmers
  3. develop long-term purchasing relationships
  4. strengthen cooperatives
  5. improve quality and productivity together

Together, these five principles move beyond certification and contribute to real transformation by putting farmers and farming communities in the drivers’ seat to achieve livable incomes and tackle child labor issues. After all, farmers are the origin — the starting point — of the cocoa production chain.

It’s vital to increase the amount of cocoa that is sustainably sourced for the cocoa industry. Retailers play a crucial role by actively developing sustainable purchasing because of their direct connection with consumers. And this is where AH is leading by example.

Scaling up Open Chain to achieve sustainable goals

Creating an open playing field among companies is an important step to organize sustainable cocoa production. By professionalizing Open Chain, expanding it globally and making it easily accessible, new buyers will enter the system faster and be able to purchase certified cocoa that has been produced using the Five Sourcing Principles.

By adding new farmer cooperatives to Open Chain, more farmers will benefit, and new Open Chain members can quickly purchase quantities of Rainforest Alliance certified and Fairtrade cocoa.

About IDH and the Cocoa Origins program

Cocoa Origins supports companies that use and supply small amounts of cocoa to the Dutch consumer market and contribute to projects to improve sustainable cocoa production in countries of origin. IDH helps companies and governments achieve these goals by facilitating collaboration, innovating scalable solutions and anchoring these practices in the market. IDH aligns stakeholder groups with various programs, including the Cocoa Origins program, and creates the necessary conditions to help them achieve success across all their stores’ shelves.

Working to meet a Dutch Sustainability Goal

Efforts towards developing a more sustainable cocoa supply chain is important for industry as well as for governments and society. The Dutch government has committed to achieve 100% sustainable cocoa consumption in the Dutch market by 2025. They launched the Sustainable Cocoa (DISCO) initiative in 2020 based on three key commitments to ensure farming households attain a liveable income, end deforestation and eliminate child labour by 2030 within the cocoa supplied to the Netherlands. Managed by IDH, DISCO brings together government, retail, chocolate brands, cocoa processors, and civil society. While Cocoa Origins focuses on companies that use small amounts of cocoa, DISCO addresses all companies that supply and process cocoa for the Dutch market.