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Industry report reveals blockchain could assist tackling deforestation

A report from Lumina Intelligence has highlighted potential for technology to address international conditions that have allowed land degradation and forest clearing to persist despite the chocolate industry’s push for deforestation-free cocoa.

The research group’s study, titled ‘Halting cocoa-driven deforestation’, assesses how far the chocolate and cocoa industry is going under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land to halt deforestation by 2020 and to restore degraded land and soil by 2030.

It also explores the strengths and weaknesses of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) amid warnings of a climate emergency and an incoming living income differential (LID) planned to support farmers operating in core cocoa growing countries of Ghana and Ivory Coast.

As the study noted, CFI has transformed the CSR landscape with ‘No Deforestation & Agroforestry’ becoming the most committed against issue for the food & drink industry, and 25% of industry pledges made against SDG 15, according to the Lumina Commitments database.


Yet despite 34 companies signing up to CFI – which make up 85% of global cocoa usage – deforestation has, according to the report, allegedly persisted in some CFI countries, while Lumina’s analysis also revealing deforestation risks in other top 30 producing countries not yet covered by CFI.

Lumina Intelligence supports the food and drink industry to take sustainable products mainstream and to ensure these items deliver SDG impact. The subscription service tracks consumer engagement with sustainable products and analyses impact via a commitments database, which tracks the industry response to the development goals.

Report author Oliver Nieburg said: “CFI has provided a strong platform to combat cocoa-driven deforestation yet is unlikely to eradicate the practice globally by the 2020 deadline.

“The indirect cocoa supply outside of company programmes remains a deforestation risk and even where CFI is present, the barriers to agroforestry implementation are high, which is detrimental to the UN’s 2030 target to restore degraded land and to urgently halt the loss of biodiversity.”

Lumina’s report also explores the technology available, critically analyses how mobile tech and satellite data is being deployed and evaluates prospects for a cocoa-producing country to implement a national blockchain.

“We’ve spoken to agronomists, mobile app providers and satellite data experts to discover how to modernise the antiquated cocoa supply chain,” said Nieburg.

The report proposes a route to address CFI’s vulnerabilities and demonstrates how well aligned the top six chocolate brands (Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Ferrero, Hershey and Lindt & Sprüngli), as well as the top three cocoa ingredients suppliers (Barry Callebaut, Cargill and Olam) are to the UN’s SDG 15 targets. The report is accessible via an annual subscription to Lumina Sustainability and is also available for individual purchase.

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