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From "bean to bar" : the role of chocolate manufacturing companies and voluntary sustainability standards Poole Lehnhoff, Katherine


This paper examines the growing trend of chocolate manufacturing companies incorporating sustainability standards in the global cocoa supply chain. It focuses on the efforts of major chocolate manufacturers to establish transparent and traceable supply chains, covering the entire production process from "bean to bar." Given that the cocoa and chocolate industry have faced criticism over the use of child labor, forced labor, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and poor farmer standards, the paper investigates where the companies have been placing most of their efforts in addressing these challenges. However, there are significant divergences in the sustainability standards adopted by chocolate companies, and their areas of focus vary widely. Existing literature on the cocoa supply chain often fails to address these divergent strategies and their implications, as well as recent changes that have occurred in the past five years. To fill these gaps, this paper aims to analyze the evolution of the industry, the extent of divergence in sustainability standards, and the reasons behind the efforts in specific areas of the supply chain. The paper argues that companies prioritize issues that can potentially damage their reputation and are influenced by international pressure and regulations, such as "Child and Forced Labor" and "Traceability." Among companies, divergences exist depending on the regulatory framework companies decide to follow, with European legislation influencing company behavior. Therefore, the paper situates the "Bean to Bar" initiatives within this framework, shedding light on the existing gaps regarding sustainability initiatives by chocolate manufacturers. It provides an overview of the cocoa supply chain, highlighting the challenges it faces, and introduces Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSSs). To support its analysis, the paper compares VSSs adopted by companies, and evaluates trends observed over the past five years. To do this, the paper introduces a scorecard to assess companies' VSSs and efforts across five dimensions related to supply chain challenges: "Environment and Climate," "Child and Forced Labor," "Farmer Incomes," "Community Engagement," and "Traceability."

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International