As part of their ongoing commitment to sustainability, Osaka, Japan-based Fuji Oil Holdings and its Chicago-based subsidiary Blommer Chocolate Co. said they launched two global initiatives that address the most significant social issues faced by the cocoa industry. The first is a commitment to eliminate the worst forms of child labor (WFCL) in the company’s cocoa supply chain by 2025 and, ultimately, to eliminate all forms of child labor as defined by the International Labor Organization by 2030. The second is a commitment to distribute 1,000,000 forest tree seedlings by 2030 to areas deforested as a result of cocoa farming.
“We are excited to announce the first major cocoa sustainability initiatives resulting from the collaboration between Fuji Oil and Blommer Chocolate. In alignment with our group management philosophy, we view cocoa sustainability as one of our highest priorities,” said Hiroshi Shinano, executive officer, Oils & Fats and Chocolate Division for Fuji Oil. “These exciting initiatives create concrete targets in line with our ‘Responsible Cacao Sourcing Policy,’ which was announced in 2018.”
Fuji Oil and Blommer, through their Sustainable Origins program, said they have established child labor monitoring and remediation systems (CLMRS) in 97% of their direct supply chain. In delivering on the commitment to eliminate the WFCL, Fuji Oil and Blommer will expand the CLMRS activity to include the remainder of their cocoa bean and product supply chain as part of a multi-tiered strategy that will also include polygon mapping, women’s empowerment and access to education.
“Building upon our long history of leadership in cocoa sustainability, these initiatives represent an important new phase in our work to improve the livelihoods of the communities involved in our cocoa supply chain,” said Kip Walk, senior director, corporate sustainability for Blommer. “It is essential that we protect the welfare of the children living in the cocoa-growing communities, as well as work to preserve and restore the forest environments.”
Given the importance of access to quality education in addressing child labor issues, Fuji Oil and Blommer said they intend to join two new initiatives led by the Jacobs Foundation. The first initiative, Child Learning and Education Facility, aims to reach 5 million children and 10 million parents in cocoa-growing areas and beyond, focusing on access to quality primary education. The second initiative, based in Cote d’Ivoire, is the Early Learning and Nutrition Facility (ELAN). ELAN is designed to provide quality services and training in early childhood development and nutrition to 1.3 million children below the age of 5 and their caregivers.
In addition, Fuji Oil and Blommer said they will establish a new sustainability program in Ghana incorporating the same multi-tiered approach. The program will supply beans and products to Europe, Asia and the United States.
Aligned with Fuji Oil’s deforestation policies for Palm and Blommer’s activities under the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, a landscape model approach will be used in the distribution of the 1,000,000-seedling target. Early stages of the program will target Cote d’ Ivoire and Ghana. Additional regions of the supply chain will be considered in later years. Varieties will be selected with the purpose of providing alternative income sources for communities along with the benefit of reestablishing the forest canopy, the companies said.