The Seven Signs of Certification

The 7 Signs of Certification

 At STOP THE TRAFFIK we believe that slave-free chocolate is a possibility for this generation. For the last 10 years we have been asking chocolate companies to use third party certification. This means (amongst other things) having an independent certifier audit the supply chain to ensure a ‘zero-tolerance’ standard on human trafficking and forced labour and child labour; training for certified farmers in child protection and child protection monitoring at a community level. These certifiers help to accountability and assurance that the companies are adhering to best practices and a code of conduct. The three leading certifiers in the chocolate industry are as follows:  


Fairtrade was established in 1992 to address and overcome the unfair deal world farmers were given in the global market. They advocate a Fairtrade premium which is given to farmer co-operatives who choose themselves how to best use the money. Fairtrade only certify co-operatives. As of March 2017, Fair Trade certified a total of 63 co-operatives who represent over 130,000 farmers in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana (the two largest growers of cocoa beans).


UTZ focusses on improving farmer livelihoods and helping them compete on a global market. They do this through running farmer workshops on subjects such as business skills, agricultural practices as well as child protection and the importance of education. All UTZ certified farmers partake in these workshops and UTZ aims to make farming sustainable both for the farmers and the planet. In 2015 there were over 465,000 UTZ certified farmers- 9% of the worlds cocoa farmers. 53% of these came from Cote d’Ivoire and 18% were from Ghana.

Rainforest Alliance

Rainforest Alliance have two major focusses, the protection of the environment and the improved wellbeing and livelihoods of farmers. Their certification is based on the Sustainable Agriculture Network's Standard and has been used to certify over 211,878 farmers with 63.6% of those in Cote d’Ivoire and 14.9% in Ghana. UTZ and Rainforest Alliance have recently merged and will bring together the most comprehensive remediation strategy and the most recently updated supplier code.

.... And now the chocolate companies and producers

For some time, these 3 certifiers logos have been the only ones recognised by STOP THE TRAFFIK as robust enough to be trusted by consumers when seen on chocolate. Now however, there are now 4 more logos to look out for, 3 from chocolate companies and 1 producer. These chocolate programs have been judged on 5 criteria: 3rd party audits to international standards, traceability to farm level, commitment to 100% sustainability of products, ensuring a living income and active child labour monitoring. They are as follows:

Nestle Cocoa Plan

Begun in 2009, the Nestle Cocoa Plan project has certified 30% of their cocoa with UTZ as of March 2017 and has 44,617 farmers partaking in training and workshops. The Cocoa Plan has also seen the building or refurbishment of 42 schools in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Nestle use the Fair Labour Association for comprehensive child monitoring systems and remediation. They are the most transparent company consistently reporting the number of children found in the worst forms of child labour. They also emphasize education as the best way to keep children from risk of trafficking. However, they have not given an exact date for worldwide 100% certification. 

Lindt & Sprungli Cocoa Farming Programme

Started in 2008 Lindt’s programme aims to be fully certified by 2020 and by March 2017 has reached 57% certification and have 50,000 farmers partaking in training. Lindt use The Forest Trust to externally verify their programme and aim to largely use community participation in developing their programme. However, there have been no published impact reports and their social side requires expansion. The programme has also built 1 school in Ghana.

Mondelez Cocoa Life (Cadburys and Toblerone)

Mondelez International's Cocoa Life programme was started in 2012 and also aims to be 100% certified by 2020. As of March 2017, is has reached 21% certification and has over 50,000 farmers partaking in training in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. They use the same standards and auditors as Fairtrade but are moving aware from using the Fairtrade logo. They are heavily committed to using community knowledge and development to tackle child labour and trafficking. However, their child monitoring and remediation systems are still new and need time to be fully evaluated.

 Barry Callebaut Cocao Horizons

The chocolate producer Barry Callebaut also has its own sustainability programme, Cocoa Horizons. In this they aim to eradicate child labour from their supply chain by 2025 emphasizing education, empowering women and a child monitoring community system. By the same year they aim to lift 500,000 farmers out of poverty by investing 2.2 Million Euros (about $A3.5 million) through 2019 in cocoa farmer training programs in Cote d’Ivoire across 80 farming communities.