Barry Callebaut is committed to sustainability and reducing its environmental footprint. Thriving nature will ensure that the company is able to produce cocoa and chocolate in a sustainable way over the long term. In Region Americas, it has implemented various sustainable projects to become a leader in sustainability in the chocolate and cocoa industry. 


Leading the way with sustainable agriculture

Last year, Barry Callebaut was recognized by the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), the gold standard for environmental reporting, for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, awarding the company with an “A-” for the fifth consecutive year.

"We have an opportunity to create truly sustainable supply chains through partnerships with organizations dedicated to regenerative agriculture," says Kevin Ogorzalek, senior manager, Sustainability Sourcing Americas.

In California, Barry Callebaut partners with Project Apis m.’s Seeds for Bees. “With Seeds for Bees, we’re able to contribute to healthy soil and attract pollinators by planting cover crops between almond trees,” Ogorzalek explained. Cover crops are native foliage that are planted in between rows of crops to improve soil health by providing nutrients, reducing erosion, improving water stewardship, and controlling weeds. Cover crops allow farms to persist through unpredictable weather patterns while positively contributing to the health of local pollinating insects. Barry Callebaut’s partnership with Seeds for Bees is projected to plant over 780 cover crops, impacting 1593 acres of almond crops and 3186 honey bee colonies in Fiscal Year 22/23. 

In addition, Barry Callebaut launched an innovative program with a Michigan-based company, Regenerative Connections. By supporting this farmer owned advisory company, the company is catalyzing peer-to-peer led regenerative agriculture in its supply chain by supporting farmers to plant cover crops, and replant native vegetation to support biodiversity. Barry Callebaut and Regenerative Connections are a unique collaboration in the dairy industry, and it has led to the conversion of 100% sustainable ingredients for Barry Callebaut’s US-brand Van Leer. 

Moving south to Brazil and Mexico, Barry Callebaut is transforming the sugarcane sector by partnering with local farmers to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 12-25% per year and increase sugarcane yields. Ogorzalek says, “One of the biggest opportunities to improve our environment is to reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides. By using biological amendments and compost, we significantly reduce the use of chemicals and are seeing not only increased sugarcane yields and decreased GHG emissions, but improvement to water quality too. These practices can be scaled for a huge impact.” Additionally, Barry Callebaut has begun reforesting around its Mexico-supplying sugarcane mill and plans to expand the reforestation program to two other mills in the region. 

Supporting farmers

The environmental challenges chocolate manufacturing companies like Barry Callebaut experience are faced first-hand by the cocoa farmers. Raony Penteado, commercial sustainability manager at Barry Callebaut said, “It takes a lot of manual labor that farmers can’t always afford if they want a high yield, and the crop can be taxing on forests around them. That’s why it’s important for us to support farmers in ensuring they can produce as much as they can while also preventing deforestation.”

It takes 400 cocoa beans to produce one chocolate bar, and one cocoa tree can grow up to 2500 cocoa beans per harvest. The average American alone consumes about 12 pounds of chocolate per year. “To keep up with this kind of demand, farmers have to harvest hundreds of cocoa trees per year,” said Penteado.  Native to Brazil’s Amazon, cocoa seedlings are being widely adopted in landscape restoration projects through agroforestry and consortiums. Barry Callebaut is helping to prevent deforestation and restore degraded landscapes as well as increase the productivity on existing cocoa farms by subsidizing cocoa seedlings from its Cocoa Horizons-certified nursery in Itabuna, Brazil (formerly housed in Ilheus, Brazil). These seedlings are bred to be resistant to a variety of pests and diseases that affect cocoa production. The nursery already has the capacity to produce 2 million per year and we have the ambition to increase the output volume to 6 million seedlings per year in the near future to be distributed to cocoa farmers in Brazil.

Environmental challenges are not the only ones farmers face. Receiving timely cash payments for their harvests have also set farmers back from investing in sustainable agricultural practices, an issue Barry Callebaut is committed to solving. In 2020, Barry Callebaut’s digital payment program kicked off with large-scale farmers in Ecuador and has allowed many experienced farmers to be paid on delivery.

"Supporting our farmers is equally as important as supporting the environment. It’s imperative that our farmers have the tools necessary for prospering crops, and we have the ability to assist them in receiving those tools," says Raony Penteado, commercial sustainability manager.

Barry Callebaut continues to move the needle and engage with its extended supply chain and partners in the Americas and worldwide. End-to-end transformative action relies on everyone across the chocolate and cocoa value chain to join forces and work together and in tandem. Its suppliers and partners are crucial partners on this journeyTogether, they are driving tangible impact and are closer than ever in making sustainable chocolate the norm.