Lindt & Sprüngli (Lindt) is a Swiss chocolate company with an exceptional reliance on the cacao bean as a raw material input for their chocolate products. Nearly every product in their annual sales of 365 billion CHF is composed of a minimum of 30% cacao. Cacao cultivation will be negatively affected by climate change because it can only be grown in a narrow temperature and humidity band around the equator, and that the amount of land suitable for cacao cultivation will decrease significantly with rising global temperatures. For example, in Ghana where Lindt sources 100% of their Africa-based cacao, agricultural surveys found that of 294 locations assessed, 10.5% showed increasing suitability for cacao production and the remaining 89.5% would become less suitable by 2050. Importantly, not only will the total area of cultivation decrease, the quality of existing land will also decrease. The figure below highlights this risk.
Recognizing the importance of this threat, Lindt is taking action to strengthen their supply chain and sourcing strategies. To-date, their primary initiative has focused on a holistic approach referred to as the “Cocoa Commitment Campaign”. Three key aspects of the program involve working closely with small-holder cacao famers to promote specialist skills and training, providing farmers direct capital resource support, and ongoing evaluation/auditing processes of the overall program. The specialist training focuses on good farming practices, biodiversity, harvesting, labor rights, and more. Capital support is delivered by providing farm equipment, and construction of schools and drinking water wells. Finally, Lindt has implemented a partnership with an NGO called The Forest Trust to evaluate progress made by farmers and the overall effectiveness of the program, with proposed interventions and iterations made as required.
Maps highlighting the decline in suitable land for growing cacao in 2050
Due to the success of the program so far, Lindt is planning to roll out the program beyond just Ghana over the next 3-5 years. They hope to fully cover their cacao supply across Ecuador, Papua New Guinea and others by 2020.
While Lindt’s progress so far has been notable, I believe the severity of the risk requires additional action to further protect their supply chain. For example, ironically, it is the cocoa trade that is partly responsible for helping fuel deforestation and climate change by extension. Lindt should publicly take a stand against farmers and organizations that clear rainforest land in order to plant cacao farms. As Lindt already maintains a tight tracking and quality control process for their source farms, clamping down on these farmers and farming techniques would be unlikely to affect their cacao supply. In fact, it would be a great opportunity to highlight their strong sustainability and other community engagement initiatives. In the medium to long term I believe that Lindt could also begin diversifying their cacao source countries and more importantly, exploring cacao substitutes like the carob bean. Another longer term strategy could be to explore GMO-cacao to be more resistant to the rising temperature and humidity changes. Mars Chocolates is already pursuing this approach through a couple different channels.
Finally, a few open questions came to mind while researching this topic. I felt that there are many parallels to coffee farming and the coffee trade, and it would be interesting to see how companies like Starbucks are planning to address similar challenges. Secondly, since I don’t believe that Lindt can protect cacao fully by themselves, I wonder about how an industry-consortium could work between other multinational firms.
 Lindt, “Key Figures”, Lindt Corporate Site, [http://www.lindt-spruengli.com/investors/financial-information/key-figures/], accessed November 2017.
 Lindt, “FAQ”, Lindt Corporate Site, [https://www.lindtusa.com/faq], Accessed November 2017
 Lindt, “The Lindt Sprungli Farming Program”, Lindt Corporate Site, [http://www.chocolate.lindt.com/world-of-lindt/sustainability/the-lindt-spruengli-farming-program/], accessed November 2017.
 P. Läderach, “Predicting the future climatic suitability for cocoa farming of the world’s leading producer countries, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire” Springer Link, [https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-013-0774-8], accessed November 2017
 P. Läderach, “Predicting the future climatic suitability for cocoa farming of the world’s leading producer countries, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire” SpringerLink , [https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-013-0774-8], accessed November 2017
 Lindt, “Lindt & Sprungli Achieves 2016 Cocoa Commitment”, Lindt Corporate Site, [https://tinyurl.com/y9lu6vzk], accessed November 2017
 Lindt, “Responsible Procurement”, Lindt Corporate Site, [http://www.lindt.ca/en/world-of-lindt/sustainability/responsible-procurement/], accessed November 2017
 Anna Pujol-Mazani, “Is Your Chocolate bar Fueling Deforestation in West Africa?”, Reuters, [https://www.reuters.com/article/us-westafrica-chocolate-deforestation/is-your-chocolate-bar-fuelling-deforestation-in-west-africa-idUSKCN1BP1J4], accessed November 2017
 Rebecca Rupp, “Can GMOs Save Chocolate?”, National Geographic, [http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/18/can-gmos-save-chocolate/], accessed November 2017