New study on cocoa traceability makes recommendation towards more transparency in the cocoa sector

Enhancing the traceability of the cocoa supply chain is an important means towards increased sustainability and accountability of the chocolate and cocoa sector. The good news is that in recent years, an increasing number of value chain actors have been designing and implementing their own traceability systems. To provide more clarity on the state of these traceability systems, IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative and the National Initiatives on Sustainable Cocoa in Europe (ISCO’s) co-developed a study on cocoa traceability. The study resulted in to publication of a technical brief and a series of four case studies.

The traceability study was developed by, with support from GISCO, IDH and the UK-aid-funded Partnerships for Forests (P4F) Program.

Technical Brief on Cocoa Traceability


The Technical Brief provides an overview of the state of cocoa traceability in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon, insights on existing challenges, as well as recommendations for a more transparent and traceable cocoa supply chain. It was developed based on desk research and interviews with government representatives from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon, cocoa and chocolate companies, standard setting organizations and technical service providers.

Recommendations from the Technical Brief include the alignment on standardized definitions and traceability metrics, a topic that the national platforms for sustainable cocoa in Europe have already started working on, in close collaboration with other organizations such as the International Cocoa Initiative and the World Cocoa Foundation. The Brief also calls for the harmonisation and sharing of cocoa traceability and sustainability data between value chain actors, including between governments and companies. The sharing of data and interoperability of traceability systems could indeed help to provide accurate insights and information on the reliability and consistency of cocoa origin and sustainability data. Furthermore, the brief emphasizes that farmers and their organizations should benefit from the system. It argues that farmers should be incentivized to provide accurate data and empowered to access benchmark farming data that can inform their farming practices.

These recommendations will be used as a basis for further discussion between members of the national platforms for sustainable cocoa in Europe, as part of their joint Working Group on Cocoa Traceability. The Working Group brings together key stakeholders from the private sector, NGOs, research institutions and governments, and aims to progress the thinking and practices towards enhancing the sustainability of the cocoa sector.

Find the Technical Brief on Cocoa Traceability here


Four Case Studies on Cocoa Traceability

Next to the technical brief, a series of case studies has been published, exploring in more detail how companies and standard setting organizations are implementing traceability in their operations. Each case study focuses on a specific theme relevant to the role of that actor in the cocoa supply chain, including certification body (Fairtrade International), trader (Cargill), primary processers (Barry Callebaut) and consumer brand (Mondelēz International). It considers their approach to traceability and the technology used by their traceability systems.

Find the Case Studies Here

Learning Event on Cocoa Traceability


Next to the study on cocoa traceability, the National Initiatives on Sustainable Cocoa in Europe also jointly organized a learning event on the subject. The learning event took place on June 24th and featured high-level speakers from COCOBOD, the CCC, Fairtrade International, ECAKOOG Cooperative, Barry Callebaut, Tropenbos International and the European Commission. During the event, the speakers explored the current and upcoming public and private traceability systems and how these can interoperate in order to create the most value for farmers.

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