Whittaker’s has announced it has reached 100% traceability of all the cocoa beans used to make its chocolate, well ahead of its commitment under international agreements to achieve this by 2025. Traceability is critical for ensuring commodities like cocoa beans are produced ethically and sustainably.
This has been made enabled by the completion of geo-mapping of all three of the Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa cooperatives Whittaker’s sources from in Ghana. It is further enhanced by Whittaker’s investment in supporting these cooperatives to transition to a new cloud-based system called Farmforce for accurate data collection and real-time reporting.
Co-Chief Operating Officer, Matt Whittaker, says as a New Zealand family-owned business there’s always been a strong focus on ethical and sustainable sourcing but it has been a journey to achieve this milestone, especially given Whittaker’s relatively small size in the global chocolate landscape.
“Full traceability enables us to trace the cocoa beans that we use right down to farm level, which gives us much more transparency over how those cocoa beans are produced. Key steps along the way have included our commitment since 2020 to source only 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Ghanaian cocoa beans and working with Rainforest Alliance to provide additional support to the three cocoa cooperatives we source from in Ghana,” says Matt.
Whittaker’s has invested in a number of projects to improve conditions for the communities of its cocoa farmers in Ghana, including the construction of new ablution blocks at the cooperatives’ local schools in 2020 and more recently in new bores to improve access to clean drinking water.
Aside from the Ghanaian cocoa beans used to make most of its chocolate, Whittaker’s also sources a small amount of specialty cocoa beans from Samoa, which have been fully traceable for some time thanks to direct relationships and Whittaker’s Cocoa Improvement Programme there.
Established in 2014, Whittaker’s Cocoa Improvement Programme has helped to revitalise the cocoa export industry in Samoa by providing commercial certainty to the cocoa cooperative Whittaker’s partners with there, Savai’i Koko, and supporting its cocoa farmers with resources and training.
“We value the relationships we have in Samoa and in Ghana, in partnership with Rainforest Alliance, that enable us to honour our ethical sourcing commitments. We regularly visit the cocoa cooperatives we source from to maintain those relationships and to identify other ways we can help to build a more ethical and sustainable cocoa supply chain,” says Matt.