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Corporate Responsibility

Supply Chain

Our supply chain affects communities in the areas from which we source. In particular, our cocoa and coffee businesses make a significant contribution to the economies of producing countries, and to the wellbeing of the households and farming families who cultivate these crops. We work with our clients and expert third parties to implement many sustainability programs. These programs are based on the detailed monitoring of our supply chain to measure cocoa-related and coffee-related impacts at a community and household level on the salient issues of labor practices, forest conservation and income.


Cocoa – the sector and our aims

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana together produce nearly three million metric tons of cocoa, contributing significantly to these countries’ economies. Almost all is from small farms – there are between two and three million cocoa farms in these two countries alone. Many farmers face challenges such as a lack of available labor, decreasing moisture and fertility of soils, and low productivity, highlighting the need to improve labor practices.

In both the United States and Europe, legislation is seeking to address the risks of forced labor, child labor and deforestation. To produce cocoa that will always meet regulatory requirements, we implement market-leading sustainability and supplier-development programs. Our aim is to supply cocoa that not only helps cocoa-growing families and communities prosper, but also helps producing countries and the environment. We therefore work with cocoa-sector administering bodies, NGOs, foundations, industry associations, and other companies that have the expertise required to tackle the above issues.

In 2021, we initiated an in-depth study of the carbon emissions of cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire. This will guide our further efforts at emission reductions in this supply chain.

To progress our work towards achieving a sustainable cocoa supply, we work through three service-focused, interconnected pathways: read more about our approach to source sustainable cocoa.

Here are some examples of our work for each of our ambitions.

Tackling child labor

In Ghana, we work with Child Rights International to set up community-based child-labor monitoring and remediation systems in communities we source cocoa from. In addition, we support the International Cocoa Initiative, which helped one of our suppliers set up a child-labor monitoring and remediation system across 406 communities, involving 3,500 cocoa-farming families.

Tackling forced labor

In several regions of the Dominican Republic, we worked with Winrock International to conduct a baseline study on the socio-economic situation of farmers in the sourcing network of a supplier. The study focuses on understanding the risks of child labor and forced labor, so we can better tailor programs to tackle and remediate these risks.

Supporting women and communities

In Côte d’Ivoire, we worked with Solidaridad to train 125 women, in four selected communities, on financial education, entrepreneurship, and income-generating activities. In addition, we provided direct support to women in two communities to help them start collective income-generating activities, and also arranged storage of their goods in secure warehouses. Helping women earn income for school fees also promotes schooling, so remediating child labor.

Forming partnerships

Through its Olakoko Project, Sucden Nigeria has joined CocoaSoils, a multi-stakeholder partnership of NGOs, civil society, and public and private-sector partners, which promotes Integrated Soil Fertility Management. Working in three states – Ondo, Osun and Ogun – we are training over 8,000 farmers to improve agricultural practices, concentrating on correct pruning, effective and environmentally sensitive pest and disease management, and improving soil fertility.

Protecting forests

We are committed to working only with sourcing partners that do not buy cocoa from protected forest areas. In Ghana, we are preventing further encroachment of existing cocoa farms into protected forest areas by designing farm-management plans for where we know cocoa is grown within two kilometres of protected areas.

Working in partnerships

Working with Proforest, we have built farm-compliance assessment checks within our Sourcemap data collection and analysis systems, ensuring our supplies come from locations that are not a threat to protected forest areas. All origins we source from directly are covered by this compliance system.

Providing trustworthy cocoa

We have designed risk-based due-diligence systems for cocoa, starting with suppliers in Côte d’Ivoire. This includes testing and developing successful risk-assessment tools, providing handbooks with practical guidance on preventing deforestation, child labor and forced labor, and helping our suppliers develop sustainable farming.

Developing cocoa partnerships

We continue to develop our strategy of using experts to support our sustainability aims:

  • To improve our risk monitoring of forced labor, we have worked with the International Cocoa Initiative, testing a new approach to better target our remediation efforts to the areas we think most need it.
  • We continue to support the Cocoa and Forests Initiative in the Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, and continually refine our approach to promoting agroforestry systems, supporting women’s empowerment initiatives, and implementing traceability.
  • Through our memberships of the European Cocoa Association and other international organisations, we participate in important meetings with EU officials to collaborate, as consideration is given to the development of a practical due diligence regulatory framework.


Coffee – the sector and our aims

Around 70 per cent of the coffee we deliver to our customers has been grown by smallholder farmers, who often rely on coffee for their entire livelihoods. We buy coffee from more than 20 countries. Although mechanical harvesting is becoming more common, coffee cherries are still harvested manually in many places. This is the most labor-intensive stage of production, creating income opportunities for millions of workers worldwide. Coffee also provides an opportunity for conservation, as where it is grown within a shaded system, the native trees play an important role for biodiversity and as carbon sinks.

Land degradation and climate change are putting millions of hectares at risk of becoming unsuitable for coffee production. Smallholder farmers also struggle with low coffee prices and labor shortages, as workers seek safer work and greater income. As a result, millions of livelihoods are at stake, as is the future of coffee supply. To take a share of responsibility for the supply chain we rely on for our coffee business, we are committed to collaboration with stakeholders to help tackle these challenges.

Our coffee goals and targets

We cannot ensure the long-term health of the coffee supply chain on our own. A common vision and direction are the first steps and so we are committed to the 2050 Sustainability Goals and 2025 Targets of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge and Global Coffee Platform. The 2025 targets are:

Coffee: resilient supply

Increase smallholder production by 11.9 million bags, through renovation, rehabilitation, and technical investments in existing areas, to adequately meet long-term demand from a diversity of origins.

Sucden Coffee 2025 target is to train at least 15,000 farmers annually on good agricultural practices in our main coffee sourcing landscapes.

Markets: strengthen market demand

Ensure at least 50% of coffee purchased by roasters and retailers globally is sourced according to sustainable practices.

Sucden Coffee 2025 target is to increase the share of certified coffee in our trade, to achieve 50% in 2025.

People: improve wellbeing and prosperity 

Fully protect the rights and wellbeing of coffee workers and establish living-income or wage benchmarks in at least 80% of ICO member-producing countries, and initiate public-private interventions to close or surpass living-income or wage gaps.

Sucden Coffee 2025 target is to involve at least 5,000 farmers in income- diversification projects.

Planet: conserve nature

Restore 1.5 million hectares of tree cover, conserve 500,000 hectares of forest and secure 100 million tons of carbon.

Sucden Coffee 2025 target is to increase tree cover in our main coffee-sourcing landscapes by providing access to 300,000 seedlings to be planted on coffee farms and community land.

Case study

Since 2018, the Empower project in Pagar Alam, Indonesia, has trained local farmers in producing tree seedlings and managing nurseries for commercial purposes. This provides alternative sources of income for farmers who are interested in professionalizing their nurseries. 42-year-old Zairin is an example of such a farmer. With four other farmers, he has started a nursery business by building a relationship with government agencies as potential clients. The group has won a government contract for nearly US Dollars 3,000 to provide tree seedlings for a land-rehabilitation project. Watch the video.