Europe at the forefront of standardization for sustainability and traceability of cocoa beans 

Cocoa beans - #smartfarming ISO campaign











The market for sustainable products and services increases in Europe and is currently catered for private initiatives. Yet, no European standards exist for traceable and sustainable cocoa. Pressure comes also from Public authorities in the context of public procurement to purchase only products labelled as ‘sustainable’ and ‘traceable’. At the same time, the European market of chocolate represents 21.6 billion euros. In 2016, the European Union Members exported about 2 million tons of chocolate. The EU countries have imported 1.7 million tons of cocoa beans, most of them coming from Africa (Eurostat figures: Ivory Coast, 720 000 tons; Ghana, 340 000 tons; and Cameroon, 140 000 tons).

European chocolate producers and European consumers are also concerned about sustainable production of high-quality cocoa, asking for high standards. The questions of quality, sustainability and traceability need to be tackled to harmonize cocoa production practices: uniformed procedures, defining what sustainability in the cocoa sector means, reach a common understanding, etc. We therefore need Standards to ensure good agricultural practices, the protection of the environment, and the improvement of the social conditions and lives of farmers. They will be of use to all parties involved in the cocoa supply chain from the farmers to the purchasers of cocoa. The standardization efforts aim at unifying requirements for cocoa supply chain with a view of improving its effectiveness and creating transparency and fair competition.

In 2012, CEN established CEN/TC 415 - a Technical Committee to develop standards for sustainable cocoa. Over time, a corresponding ISO body - ISO/TC 34/SC 18 - was created. Currently, CEN and ISO are jointly working on the development of four standards in support of Sustainability and Traceability of Cocoa beans:

  1. prEN ISO 34101-1 ‘Sustainable and traceable cocoa beans - Part 1: Requirements for sustainability management systems’.
  2. rEN ISO 34101-2 ‘Sustainable and traceable cocoa beans - Part 2: Requirements for performance (related to economic, social and environmental aspects)’.
  3. prEN ISO 34101-3 ‘Sustainable and traceable cocoa beans - Part 3: Requirements for traceability’.
  4. prEN ISO 34101-4 ‘Sustainable and traceable cocoa beans - Part 4: Requirements for certification schemes’.

CEN Technical Committee TC/415 on ‘Sustainable and Traceable Cocoa’ is developing this series of standards under the secretariat of our Danish Member, DS. The work is carried out together with ISO/TC 34/SC 18 on ‘Cocoa’, which is jointly managed by ISO members from the Ivory Coast (CODINORM), Ghana (GSA) and the Netherlands (NEN). These standards are developed with a strong presence of cocoa-producing countries.

Cocoa-related standards are expected to be published at the end of 2017 to support cocoa farmers and other parties involved.