Mondelēz Is Addressing Major Issues In Cocoa Production

Some may say that chocolate makes the world go round. But everyone's favorite dessert has a bit of a not-so-sweet spot. Chocolate — which is produced from seeds harvested from the cacao tree, Science of Cooking explains — has garnered an unpalatable reputation in recent years for its harsh environmental effects.

According to The New Republic, harvesting cacao trees infamously causes deforestation. For example, over the course of 50 years, cocoa production has contributed to the destruction of 80% of forests in the Ivory Coast, which exports the lion's share of the world's cocoa. The casualty is beyond the loss of trees — these specific ones grow in rainforests, areas known for biodiversity and carbon sequestration. This unfortunately means that your beloved chocolate bar contributes a lot of greenhouse gasses into the environment, some even believing it is the worst non-meat contributor.

Chocolate's unsavory standing goes beyond environmental effects — child labor and unfair wages are also known issues in the production of the sweet treat (via ILRF). Fortunately for chocoholics around the world, some of the top chocolate companies are taking steps to fix their sustainability and labor issues. Take Mondelēz International — producer of your favorite chocolate brands like Cadbury, Côte d'Or, Freia, Oreo, and Milka — which is on track to give $1 billion to improve its supply chain, per Food Dive.

Mondelēz's Cocoa Life program sweetens its chocolate production

Improving the cocoa supply chain is not new for Mondelēz International. The food industry giant, which is a spinoff of Kraft Foods, Food Processing notes, started its Cocoa Life initiative a decade ago. The program addresses three major issues in chocolate production: sustainability, human rights, and fair wages (via Food Dive).

Mondelēz claims that through Cocoa Life, the average wage of farmers it works with in the Ivory Coast has improved by 33%. It's grown 15% in Ghana. The company says it implemented Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems in 61% of its West African Cocoa Life communities. It recently announced that it will launch the next phase of Cocoa Life with the help of an additional $600 million — "for a total of $1 billion" invested in improving cocoa production.

According to Mondelēz, this additional investment will allow it to accelerate the Cocoa Life program. By 2030, the snack manufacturer plans to help even more farmers achieve a livable income, strengthen programs that help tackle child labor issues, and attain "no deforestation" in its supply chain. Despite its big plans, Mondelēz understands more action is needed. "We are calling for more sector-wide effort and actions to drive greater impact, including new private-public partnerships," CEO Dirk Van de Put said in a press release. As Food Dive notes, given pressing demand and sustainability concerns, companies that rely on chocolate might have to invest big bucks to avoid unaffordable prices down the line.