Since 2012, cocoa prices have climbed almost 40%, driven thither by declining production and increasing demand in newly-affluent countries like India and China. Cocoa trees, you see, prefer the shade of a rainforest canopy, and as much tropical rain as they can get. With deforestation and climate change, the supply of each of these is not what it was in Ghana. Enter Mondelez, a business with a more than passing interest in keeping those oddly bitter little beans coming in. Mondelez brings such brands to market as Cadbury and Oreo, and they are getting involved in educating cocoa farmers about their cocoa-growing practices – the correct spacing of the trees, how to prune them and what fertilisers to apply. Such programmes have yielded record crops in neighbouring Ivory Coast, and the thinking is that if all farmers got on-board, production could be up by as much as 300%.
Comment: Corporate sustainability initiatives have moved beyond the desire to do the right thing, into the territory of enlightened self-interest. This is where things get interesting.