Premium biscuit manufacturer Bahlsen has furthered its stance on sustainability by taking clear steps to ensure complete traceability on its raw materials in a bid to improve welfare in developing countries.
Bahlsen already uses 100 per cent free range eggs and 100 per cent RSPO-certified sourced Palm Oil in its products; while 95 per cent of the wheat it uses comes from controlled contract farming. The company is now working to ensure all cocoa bought cross its entire portfolio comes from UTZ Certified sources, thereby guaranteeing that it is sustainably obtained.
Jon Dance, marketing manager at Bahlsen, says: “Sustainability is not just about being environmentally aware, it is about social awareness too; and Bahlsen is of the belief that great quality means great responsibility, an opinion that has been held since the company’s conception.
“Unfortunately, the key raw materials required for the manufacture of our products, such as palm oil or cocoa, are cultivated in developing regions in the world, where human rights are not always fully respected, and abusive child labour remains a problem, and living conditions are poor. In-keeping with our stance on sustainability, we want our raw materials to be obtained from ethical sources, and for us to commit to improving conditions in those regions.”
For years, representatives from Bahlsen have been visiting cultivation areas in West Africa in order to establish relations with cooperatives and to get to know the situation of the farmers and their issues. As a result, the business developed a relationship with a cooperative in Ivory Coast in 2011, which sees members gain financial support from Bahlsen.
“Bahlsen takes its contribution very seriously,” says Dance. “This isn’t a box ticking exercise to comply with a sustainability programme: the commitment filters down from the very top. Cocoa production is a very fragile industry and the owner, Werner M. Bahlsen himself travelled to Ivory Coast six months ago in order to see how the company’s actions were progressing in helping improve conditions for the famers and their workforces, and to understand the impact that they’ve had on the region as a whole.
“A key part of that commitment is that Bahlsen has pledged to purchase up to 1,000 tonnes of it from its sources in Ivory Coast. UTZ Certified is a foundation for the worldwide implementation of a standard for responsible coffee, cocoa, tea and rooibos growing and sourcing, and we made the first move towards switching to 100 per cent UTZ certified cocoa last year, with Choco Leibniz being one of the first products Germany to make the switch.
With the interest and investment that Bahlsen has pledged, farmers are educated about the fragility of the industry and the implications of child labour associated with it.
“Many farmers are unable to read, and through education at Farmfield schools, and with continued support, we’re playing our part in a number of ways; helping to bring about sustainable change by fighting child labour, by working with an Ivory Coast cooperative to finance two HGVs to transport the cocoa from plantations to a central collection point and by providing starting loans to farmers on location, thereby ensuring that the famers involved receive more of the proceeds of their yield than they have to date. The result is an increase in quantity and quality of cocoa, and improved conditions for those who produce it.
Choco Leibniz – Bahlsen’s flagship product – is one of the first Bahlsen products to make the switch to source UTZ certified cocoa for it.
Bahlsen has long believed that its Choco Leibniz product is THE ultimate chocolate biscuit and, thanks to the switch, it’s now one of the most ethically sourced.
The perfect coffee table accompaniment to impress your guests, or simply to enjoy more casually with friends and family, the Choco Leibniz range is available in the following deliciously continental variants:
Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Orange Milk Chocolate.
Over time, it is intended that all the cocoa used in Bahlsen biscuits will be UTZ-Certified.