8 things to consider when it comes to sustainable chocolate certification

Lumina Intelligence has released a report that analyses the proliferation and usefulness of claims about sustainably sourced chocolate, coffee and tea.

24 July 2019

1. Almost a third of chocolate tablets make sustainability claims

Lumina’s report looked at 1,358 chocolate countlines and tablets from leading supermarkets and online retailers across 20 countries, finding that 25% made a sustainability claim, compared to 24% for coffee and 33% for tea. These claims were much higher for tablets (30%) than countlines (18%).

2. Organic is the most common claim in terms of chocolate

Organic is the most frequent sustainability-related label for cocoa, followed by Fairtrade and UTZ.

image credit: Lumina

3. Cocoa is more likely to be included in an in-house programme than tea or coffee

Only 45% of cocoa that claims to have been sustainably sourced is certified through third parties, with the majority being part of companies’ in-house initiatives. That’s compared to 68% of coffee and 86% of tea.

4. Cocoa commitments are set to move even further away from third-party schemes

Lumina’s Commitment Database shows that while cocoa pledges due to be achieved in 2020 focused on buying fully certified cocoa, those with a deadline of 2025 or 2030 are increasingly based on purchasing fully traceable volumes from company-developed sustainability programmes.

5. Ethical chocolate is sold at a premium

Chocolate that has been certified sustainable (excluding organic) is on average 7% more expensive per 100g than products without claims. However, items that are part of company programmes are on average cheaper than those without any certification at all.

6. The UK is one of the countries most keen on sustainability claims

In the UK, 44% of chocolate, tea and coffee products make sustainability claims. That puts the country in the top five of the 20 examined by Lumina, behind France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden. 

image credit: Lumina

7. The value of certification is debatable

Does third-party certification actually contribute to sustainable practices? Lumina examined 12 studies on the topic and overall found no conclusive evidence for positive or negative effects. Consumer engagement also appeared to be lower for products with ethical claims.

8. Sustainability claims can lead to legal issues

While some consumer studies appear to show that ethical claims on pack are attractive for consumers, in-house programmes can also create issues for companies. Lumina highlights several lawsuits that have taken place in the USA that allege various big-name brands are misleading consumers with their cocoa sustainability claims, adding that human rights advocates expect further lawsuits of this type in the US and Europe.

For the full report on sustainability and third-party certification, visit Lumina Intelligence.

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