Japanese chocolate manufacturers, artisans and retailers unite to make sustainable chocolate the norm

Artisans continue to lead the way forward through Belgian chocolate brand Callebaut, which now ensures 100% farmer group traceability in all its products.

The Barry Callebaut Group has announced its collaboration with Japanese chocolate manufacturers, artisans, retailers and wholesalers such as Morinaga, Yuraku Confectionery, FamilyMart, G+ Spread, Le Chocolate De H, Chocolate Design and J.Maeda to make sustainable chocolate the norm for the Japanese market.

Since the global launch of Forever Chocolate, its plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025, Barry Callebaut has pushed for systemic change to the cocoa and chocolate value chain worldwide and in Japan over the past few years. Amongst various efforts, the Swiss company has placed sustainability at the heart of their business strategy. They have also led the introduction of Cocoa Horizons, one of its key sustainability programmes, as an avenue for customers to contribute directly to sustainability efforts in origin countries.

Increased focus on sustainability amidst COVID-19 pandemic
With the long-term shift towards sustainable chocolate because of its positive effects on economic, social and environmental change, several chocolate manufacturers in Japan have reaffirmed their commitment to produce sustainable chocolate even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March this year, Yuraku Confectionery announced their transition to 100% sustainable chocolate in all their Black Thunder chocolate bars by 2025. In the coming weeks, Moringa, another Japanese confectionery maker, will also introduce its sustainable chocolate products that will be widely available in grocery shops and retailers across Japan.

Machiko Miyai, director and managing executive officer of Moringa in Japan, commented: “With escalating global awareness around environmental issues, as witnessed at the Davos Conference and the Australian wildfires, we were considering how we, as a manufacturer of chocolate, should tackle these issues through our business. At such a time, Barry Callebaut introduced the Cocoa Horizons programme as a way for us to make chocolate that is good for the people who eat it, good for the people who make it, and good for the planet. So we decided to start using Cocoa Horizons cacao as the environmentally friendly source.”

Businesses and consumers are going back to the source
COVID-19-related disruptions, such as the impact on the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in Africa and Indonesia, have also brought focused attention on the preference of businesses to understand the source of their products. Hence, more chocolate manufacturers, artisans and retailers are turning to sustainability programmes like Cocoa Horizons as it is a way to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers, eradicate child labour, and protect nature.

Hironobu Tsujiguchi, chocolatier from Le Chocolat De H, said: “I believe the farm-to-bar approach is the basis for improving the quality of our creations. We need to tell consumers that a good tasting product begins with the growth and fermentation of raw materials at origin countries. Therefore, it is important to be aware of where these ingredients come from, and to find added value for the farm and the store.”

Barry Callebaut’s artisan customers such as Le Chocolat De H have long paved the way for sustainable chocolate through the company’s Gourmet product offerings. Under the Callebaut brand, cocoa can now be traced back to the Cocoa Horizons farming communities in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Ecuador.

Consumers too, particularly of the Generation Z, are increasingly integrating their social and environmental concerns into their buying decisions. These consumers are mindful of their purchases, and want to make social and ethical contributions through their everyday life.

Pascale Meulemeester, managing director for Barry Callebaut in Japan, concluded: “Our bold mission is to change the entire chocolate industry in Japan. We cannot do this alone, and we are not alone. The new Japanese consumers care deeply about our planet and its people and today, as we stand together to represent the chocolate industry in Japan, we are serious about sustainability. Together, we will leave a legacy of change for generations to come.”