The availability of sustainable cocoa in Belgian supermarkets

This study carried out by Facts Figures Future in the name of the Trade for Development Centre aims to give an overview of the current and future availability of sustainable cocoa products in the assortments of major Belgian supermarkets.

Cocoa has been divided into 3 product groups:

  • Cocoa powder: This study focuses on cocoa powder in packages of 250 to 1000 grams.
  • Chocolate spread: This study focuses on chocolate spread in jars of 200 to 1000 grams.
  • Chocolate bars: This study focuses on chocolate bars in packages of 75 to 200 grams, in the flavours dark and milk chocolate without additional ingredients and flavours. It also excludes praline variations of chocolate bars.

Each different package or brand is included, including different packages from the same brand.

The word ‘sustainable’ can be interpreted in various ways. In this study we include all of the above cocoa products that carry a sustainable label, such as UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, Max Havelaar/Fairtrade, or a bio label such as EU organic, Agriculture Biologique (AB) or EKO.

Share of sustainable cocoa products per supermarket

Cocoa powder
The average share of sustainable cocoa powder in the assortments of the major supermarkets in Belgium is 7.4%. The percentages vary greatly per supermarket. Lidl is the absolute number one; 50% of their cocoa powder is sustainable. Colruyt is in second place at 20%, closely followed by Spar at 10% and Delhaize at 8.7%. The other supermarkets do not sell any sustainable cocoa powder.

Chocolate spread
The average share of sustainable chocolate spread is 3.0%. Here the percentages also vary greatly between supermarkets. Cora offers the most sustainable packages (15%), followed by Colruyt (9.1%), Delhaize (8.0%) and Carrefour (3.8%). The other supermarkets in the survey do not sell any sustainable chocolate spread.

Chocolate bars
The average share of sustainable chocolate bars is 17%. Lidl offers the largest percentage of sustainable chocolate bars to its customers (50%). Other supermarkets hovered around or below 25%: Intermarché (24%), Cora (20%), Champion (19%), Delhaize (19%) and Colruyt (16%). Aldi and Match are the only ones that does not sell any sustainable chocolate bars.

Shelve space
When deciding what jar of chocolate spread to buy, not only are the available brands and sizes important in the decision making process, but also the amount of shelve space allocated to each package.

In some supermarkets, the shelve space, compared to the variety of offered jars, differed greatly. For example, 4.0% of the package variety offered in Carrefour was sustainable, but only 1.0% of the total amount of packages on the shelves was sustainable. In Delhaize, the percentages were 8.0% and 4.0% respectively. This is mainly due to the popularity of Nutella. In many supermarkets, Nutella packages covered half of the shelve space allocated for chocolate spread.

Future expectations

Although Belgian consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental and social implications of food production, there is little demand for sustainable cocoa products in large amounts. Belgians seem more concerned about the living and working conditions of the people in the cocoa producing countries than about environmental issues.

Over the last years, Belgian cocoa processing companies have invested in sustainability schemes such as UTZ and Rainforest Alliance. But Belgium is far behind its neighbouring countries. The two largest cocoa producing companies in the Netherlands and the UK (Verkade and Cadbury respectively), have committed strongly to Fairtrade, going as far as to guarantee 100% Fairtrade chocolate.

Barry Callebaut and Kraft Foods are actively increasing their share of sustainable cocoa products on the Belgian market. They both work in close cooperation with Fairtrade, UTZ, Rainforest alliance and BIO.

Barry Callebaut confirmed a market increase in the demand for certified cocoa products in Europe. In 2009, demand increased by 50%; in general, the increase of certified cocoa products increased by 12%.