Child labor, farmer income and deforestation are key cocoa production concerns, flags Cargill research
01 Nov 2022 --- Research from Cargill is unraveling consumer attitudes toward sustainable cocoa, underscoring the growing significance of cocoa’s environmental impacts and link to human rights.
Driven by a desire to protect people and the planet, Cargill’s consumer study sheds light on European shoppers’ biggest concerns related to cocoa production.
Protecting children and mitigating climate change
As in previous surveys, child labor topped the list, followed closely by farmer income and deforestation. However, direct climate impacts emerged as rising considerations in this year’s study.
Two climate-related factors, “mitigation of climate changes” and “reducing carbon footprints linked to cocoa production,” rounded out consumers’ top five concerns, supplanting issues such as food security and traceability.
In another first, the Cargill survey found an across-the-board decline in perceived obstacles to purchasing cocoa and chocolate products labeled as sustainable.
Still, the company explains that barriers remain, especially around product variety and price, suggesting opportunities for brands to diversify their sustainable offerings.
“This research showcases how sustainability investments made in the first mile can create opportunities in the last mile,” says Hélène Dubus, sustainability marketing manager for Cocoa & Chocolate EMEA at Cargill.
The company has also collaborated on initiatives that “drive meaningful change,” which have been championed through its work connecting cocoa and chocolate customers with cocoa farmers, cooperatives and communities.
“Together, we can future-proof the cocoa sector in ways that benefit all stakeholders, addressing challenges at origin, supporting customer’s sustainability commitments, and providing consumers with the sustainably sourced cocoa and chocolate products they desire,” Dubus highlights.
Committing to sustainability
The Cargill survey also tracked sustainability’s increasing influence on European consumers.
Meanwhile, seven in ten consumers (69%) factor sustainability into their cocoa and chocolate product purchase decisions, up by three percentage points from similar research conducted in 2021.
Furthermore, most participants reported sustainability had become more critical over the last year, with 70% citing “an increasing responsibility to protect the planet and human rights” as the top reason.
Those concerns extend to the brand level, with most survey participants reporting that a brand’s commitment to sustainability has become more critical in the past 12 months.
Alongside those reputational advantages, Cargill tracked a consumer base willing to spend more for chocolate products labeled as sustainable. Two-thirds said they would pay higher prices for products with cocoa sustainability messaging, up six percentage points from 2021.
An even higher percentage at 77%, found cocoa sustainability messaging on product packages appealing.
“Consumers are becoming more educated on the topic of sustainability, and as awareness grows, so too does their appetite for more sustainable products,” Dubus continues.
“Increasingly, investing in a more sustainable future is beneficial to cocoa farmers and their origin communities and yields benefits for the brands that bring these in-demand products forward.”
Edited by Elizabeth Green
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