traceability in our cocoa supply chain
Our cocoa is traced from bean-to-bar
One of our 5 Sourcing Principles is traceability. We use 100% traceable cocoa for our chocolate, so we know exactly where our cocoa comes from. For our cocoa liquor we have been doing this since 2012 and for cocoa butter since 2016. To have fully transparent bean-to-bar traceability, meaning knowing the origin, the flow, and the quantities of the beans, gives us insights that enable us to create a fairer supply chain based on a direct connection, that creates responsibility and accountability. The software system we use, built with ChainPoint technology, is called BeanTracker.
The BeanTracker digitally logs the data collection all the way from cooperative to chocolate production and includes a monitoring tool for every step in the supply chain to see where the beans are at any particular moment in time. On this shared value chain platform, all supply chain members are connected and enter data about incoming ‘bean volumes’, ‘beans volumes in stock’ and ‘bean volumes going out’. This tells us which cooperative the beans in each container come from.
The cocoa supply chain:
The two countries we operate in – Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire - work slightly differently concerning the governmental regulations of cocoa as an export. But generally speaking, the farmers deliver their cocoa beans to the cooperative’s warehouse, where the beans are put into sacks. The sacks are then transported by truck to the local exporter's warehouse. In Ghana the exporter is Cocoa Merchants Ghana Limited (CML); in Ivory Coast it’s either Ecookim or Ocean. Our international exporter CocoaSource, then arranges for the sacks to be loaded into containers in the ports of Tema, Abidjan, and San Pedro, for them to be shipped to Antwerp. Ocean and Ecokim also provide beans to SACO in Abidjan, who make cocoa butter which is then shipped to Europe.
In Antwerp, the sacks of beans are stored in large warehouses, until Barry Callebaut uses the beans to make couverture chocolate (liquid chocolate) for us. The couverture chocolate then goes to the factories of Althaea and Kim’s Chocolates where the actual bars are made and wrapped. Our cocoa beans are kept separate throughout the entire process. This ensures that we can manage the flow of beans, and we also pay the Tony’s premium via the BeanTracker, so we also manage the flow of funds on here.
We know what volume of beans is being shipped and what is being processed in Belgium. We know which farmers supplied what percentages of each shipping container of beans. In 2019/2020, we bought in total 6,711 mt of traceable beans. In the future, we'll also link various other data sources (e.g. GPS mapping data) in the BeanTracker, so we can see at a glance where our cocoa comes from and what the conditions are like for the farmers who grow it. The goal is to make the BeanTracker a scalable solution which will hopefully lead to systemic change by implementing an industry standard for bean-to-bar traceability to enable taking full responsibility for the whole supply chain. This is why setting the right example with Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest cocoa processor, is so important and the installation of our own cocoa butter tank in the factory in 2016 was a major milestone on this journey. This shows that other players in the industry have no excuse – if we can do it, other large companies (especially those that work with Barry Callebaut) can do it, too.