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Through its cooperation and dialogue with suppliers and NGOs, Cocio Chokolademælk A/S has contributed to promoting good working and living conditions for cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast.

The strategicCSR work has actually been a focus area at Cocio for quite some time, but when the documentary “The Dark Side of Chocolate” revealed a number of in-humane conditions at Ivorian cocoa plantations in 2010, Cocio accelerated its work on responsible supplier management. The majority of the cocoa beans used in Cocio’s chocolate milk come from Ivory Coast and are purchased via the supplier Cargill.

Cocio seeks advice from NGOs

To gain a deeper understanding of the complex conditions in Ivory Coast, Cocio contacted Save the Children Denmark and Amnesty International Denmark, both of whom advised Cocio to continue purchasing cocoa beans from Ivory Coast. This way, Cocio, Cargill and the local NGOs can together work to improve the living conditions of the cocoa farmers and thus eradicate child labour.

“It is important to understand the complexity of such a case. There is no simple quick fix that can solve the problems in cocoa production right here and now. You have to keep a cool head and believe that the solution is a long-term perspective,” explains Mikael Horsbøll, Marketing Director at Cocio.

Training through certification

In 2010, Cocio chose to enter into a binding partnership with Cargill and the certification body UTZ, which trains the cocoa farmers and equips them to streamline their production of cocoa beans to produce a higher yield and better quality. The UTZ programme also focuses on improving the safety of the working environment and ensuring that no illegal child labour takes place, that children can go to school and that the environment is protected through the reduction and better handling of pesticides.

External controls are a guarantee of quality

The farmers in the UTZ programme are organised into local cooperatives which achieve UTZ certification by attending the training programme and complying with the ethical and professional rules that are part of the training. Every year, the training programme is checked by external auditors.

“We believe that UTZ is credible. We have been to Ivory Coast ourselves to check the local conditions, and we have seen how much Cargill is doing to improve the conditions. We have a really good impression, but we can never be 100 percent certain,” says Mikael Horsbøll.

Understanding from experiences

Today, Cocio can look back on a process through which it has learnt a lot. One of the most important lessons the company has learnt is to understand and respect the complexity of the issue of child labour in developing countries. If you are serious about improving conditions for farmers and their children, you must have both the will and the ability to understand what it is all about. Cocio therefore appreciates the advice it received from the Danish and local NGOs with a deep insight into the circumstances surrounding child labour and human rights.

Read more about the Cocio caseRead more about Danish Ethical Trading Initiativ (pdf)Read more at www.utzcertified.org


Early 2010
Cocio establishes an internal CSR working group charged with analysing the conditions involving the sourcing of cocoa beans.

16 March 2010
The film “The dark side of chocolate” is shown on DR2, sending a shower of criticism down over chocolate manufacturers such as Toms and Cocio, which are accused of contributing to child slavery.

Early 2010
Cocio sets up an internal working group with CSR advice from Arla and devises a plan on how the company can improve its supplier management.

April 2010
Cocio seeks the advice of Save the Children Denmark and Amnesty International Denmark. At the same time, the company begins the screening of existing international certification schemes relating to cocoa production.

May 2010
Cocio chooses UTZ certification as its partner and works in close partnership with Cargill for the systematic improvement of the conditions surrounding cocoa production.

June 2010
Cocio sets the target that all cocoa used in the production of Cocio chocolate milk must be certified by the end of 2011, and that all Arla cocoa products must be made exclusively of UTZ-certified cocoa by 2012.

Cocio meets its target that all Cocio products are made from UTZ-certified cocoa. This corresponds to 19 percent of the Group’s total purchases of cocoa.

June 2012
Cocio visits Ivory Coast and inspects the conditions in cocoa production and UTZ’s certification programme first hand.

Late 2012
The target for all Arla cocoa products to be manufactured using UTZ-certified cocoa is met. The UTZ programme is thus fully implemented.

December 2012
DR1 shows yet another documentary entitled “Lyssky chokolade” (Shady chocolate) – a follow-up on the 2010 film.