Tesco dubbed ‘bad egg’ for lack of chocolate transparency

The UK’s biggest retailer, Tesco, has been dubbed a ‘bad egg’ for failing to disclose any details about how and where it sources cocoa for its own-brand chocolate products.

For the second year running, the retailer has failed to take part in Mighty Earth’s Chocolate Scorecard, a global survey of the industry, which ranks companies on issues such as transparency and traceability, deforestation and child labour.

M&S also refused to participate in the survey.

Lidl and the Co-op are sitting at the top of the retail leader board, where the retailers are doing particularly well on addressing child labour on cocoa farms and cocoa-driven deforestation, respectively.

Waitrose and Sainsbury’s placed towards the bottom half of the table, with an overall ranking which says they need “improvement in policy and practice.”

“By refusing to participate in the Chocolate Scorecard, Tesco and M&S are keeping their customers in the dark about the impact of cocoa-driven deforestation on people and planet,” said Mighty Earth’s senior director, Gemma Hoskins.

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“With new UK legislation incoming, it’s time for the biggest retailers to get their act together and show transparency in cocoa supply chains to the farm level.”

Of the big chocolate brands, Tony’s Chocolonely and Ritter came out in front with ‘good egg’ status, while Mondelez, which makes Cadbury chocolate, did less well, scoring in the bottom half of the table.

Mighty Earth senior policy director Dr. Julian Oram said: “The chocolate brands doing the most to prevent deforestation in their cocoa supply chains are leading the way on both traceability and living income.

“You can’t help cocoa farmers protect forests unless you first know who those farmers are, and then reward them for growing cocoa sustainably. Companies like Tony’s and Ritter are showing where the whole chocolate industry needs to go.”

Overall, the research found that while 58 of the 63 companies said they had anti-deforestation policies in place, many do not have plans in place to effectively implement and monitor them. Just six are paying all of their farmers a ‘Living Income Reference Price’.

All companies do have a public policy for monitoring, reducing, or eliminating child labour in their chocolate supply chains.

Upcoming UK cocoa legislation

Cocoa is one of the five key forest-risk commodities which will be required to comply with Schedule 17 of the UK Environment Act (2021). For cocoa – either in raw or derived form – businesses will need to provide assurances through their annual reporting that the beans they purchase are not sourced from illegally deforested land.

Tony’s Chocolonely cut carbon emissions while delivering record growth last year, thanks in part to a deforestation-free supply chain, confirmed by detailed satellite mapping and deforestation reviews in the report.

Climate crisisFood and farmingNature and the environmentNewsRetailSocial sustainabilitySupply Chain

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