The cocoa industry made big promises for sustainable cocoa that mostly come due in 2020 — but now that the deadline is just a little more than a year away, many of those companies are shifting the timeline. 
That’s according to Scott Amoye, Blommer Chocolate’s v.p. of commodity procurement and risk management, who recently spoke during the Blommer Chocolate 2018 Commodity and Purchasing Seminar Day at the East Bank Club in Chicago.
“There has been a tremendous amount of work over the last 5,6, 7, 8 years, but the industry really hasn’t gotten to where it planned on getting to in this time frame. We’ve had some head winds. And most companies have readjusted from 2020 to 2025,” he told attendees. “The scope of the task and the headwinds created by the challenges of culture, infrastructure and overall market condition have brought the industry to the realization that more time will be needed.”
Mars also recently revamped its original 2009 goals, which included purchasing its entire cocoa supply from certified sustainable sources by 2020. In a September 2018 press release, the company said, “Mars aims to have 100 percent of its cocoa from the Responsible Cocoa program responsibly sourced globally and traceable by 2025.”
“Mars’ new approach to cocoa goes beyond the current level of certification standards and practices and is a step change from the initial commitment Mars made in 2009,” the company said. 
And, the Barry Callebaut Group launched the Forever Chocolate initiative in late 2016 with the goals of lifting more than 500,000 cocoa farmers from poverty, eradicating child labor from its supply chain, becoming carbon and forest positive and using 100 percent sustainable ingredients — by 2025.
It’s at once depressing and hopeful to hear that the cocoa industry is having trouble reaching the 2020 goals. Of course, we all want sustainable cocoa sooner rather than later, and realizing that the challenge is larger than expected is disheartening. But the hope comes from knowing that the sector isn’t giving up on its efforts — or trying to hide its setbacks. 
There are literally lives depending on whether or not they succeed.  
“The genesis of all of these issues is child labor and it came from West Africa — I don’t think anybody’s going to think of cocoa being sustainable unless we deliver sustainable West Africa,” Amoye said, adding that currently 50 percent of what Blommer delivers is sustainable. 
He also said the way forward is with the women. 
“Women’s empowerment is really important,” Amoye said. “What they’ve found is… if your interest is in the welfare of children and the money you’re spending actually helping the family then you have to empower women. Women will make sure their kids go to the school, make sure their kids are eating a healthy meal and those types of things.”
That’s a strategy I can get behind. 
I don’t know if we’ll have 100 percent sustainable cocoa by 2025, but I’m hopeful that even if we don’t, the cocoa companies won’t give up on that goal either.