World Cocoa Foundation

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World Cocoa Foundation
Headquarters1025 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1205, Washington, DC 20036
  • Washington, D.C. (Headquarters)

    Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (Country Office)

    Accra, Ghana (Country Office)
Region served
100- member companies
Christine McGrath

The World Cocoa Foundation is a non-profit membership organization with almost 100 member companies, including chocolate manufacturers such as Mondelez International, Nestlé, The Hershey Company and Mars, Inc. cocoa producers and suppliers such as Barry Callebaut, Ofi and Cargill, shipping companies and ports and retailers such as Starbucks.[1] The WCF's charter is broadly stated as energizing public-private partnerships to achieve cocoa sustainability.[2] WCF and its members work to end child labour in cocoa production, cocoa farming-related deforestation and extreme poverty impacting West African cocoa smallholder farmers.[3] Their efforts are criticized as “greenwashing”[4] and “a remarkable failure”.[5]


The World Cocoa Foundation had its roots as a 1995 initiative of the Chocolate Manufacturer's Association (CMA) called the International Cocoa Research and Education Foundation, which was later renamed the World Cocoa Foundation on August 14, 2000.[6] The CMA itself was later dissolved in 2008 and became part of the National Confectioners Association. From 2001 to 2012, the World Cocoa Foundation administered projects supported in part by funding from United States Agency for International Development.[7] In 2009 the World Cocoa Foundation was selected to administer a $23 million grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at increasing farming household incomes through improved farmer crop productivity, better cocoa quality and crop diversification.[8] In 2014, a follow-on grant of $8.9 million by the Gates Foundation was also aimed at improving the livelihoods of West African farmers.[9]


The WCF's vision[10] “is to be a catalyst for a thriving, healthy and equitable cocoa sector that is collaborating to improve farmer income, reverse deforestation, and combat child labor”. Investments by the chocolate and cocoa industry into these sustainability initiatives are estimated[11] at 0.5% of the turnover of cocoa and chocolate companies. Characterizing this as “not much”, this analysis estimates that the “pay of the CEO and management teams of the major cocoa manufacturing companies is the same (or higher) than the total investments made to support cocoa farmers.”[12] In combatting child labor, one estimate sees chocolate and cocoa companies investing 0.1 percent of one year’s worth of sales.[13]

The World Cocoa Foundation has initiated a number of initiatives since its formation, including the following:


The CocoaAction initiative began in June 2014 and ended in 2019.[1] It was a voluntary cocoa sustainability initiative led by a number of the world's leading cocoa and chocolate companies. The World Cocoa Foundation acts to align the individual sustainability efforts of those companies. Originally numbering 12 participating companies, including Archer Daniels Midland (ADM),[14] as of 2019 there were 9 companies participating in CocoaAction: Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Company, Cargill, Ferrero, The Hershey Company, Mars, Inc., Mondelez International, Nestlé and Olam International.[15] These are the "world's largest cocoa and chocolate companies" working through CocoaAction "to coordinate their cocoa sustainability efforts" starting with Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.[16]

Introducing the 2018 CocoaAction data packet,[17] WCF President Richard Scobey said: “CocoaAction companies are implementing a groundbreaking strategy that is successfully building new partnerships among companies, governments, development partners, and civil society organizations to advance a common agenda for cocoa sustainability.”

An assessment in 2020 by KPMG said CocoaAction “did not fully reach its targets and realize its vision.”[18] It had a goal of getting 300,000 farmers to adopt all components of the Productivity Package by 2020 but only 1,165 farmers ended up doing so, representing less than one percent of the target. The target of 1,200 communities reached with the Community Development Package was surpassed; but this figure only relates to the execution of the needs assessment, and not to actual full implementation. KPMG noted that “the overall strategy and objectives of CocoaAction were designed with minimal input from external stakeholders” and that “the origin country governments were not sufficiently involved and therefore no local ownership was established”. It also noted that CocoaAction suffered because “the strength of facilitation by WCF and level of company participation faded over time”.

In 2018, WCF launched CocoaAction Brasil acting in a capacity similar to its role in West Africa sustainability efforts.[19] CocoaAction aims to increase cocoa production dramatically by encouraging tree-crop smallholders to join cooperatives to improve their opportunities for access to fertilizers and to training on the proper use of fertilizers and pruning.[20][21]

Cocoa & Forest Initiative[edit]

In 2018, the World Cocoa Foundation launched the Cocoa & Forests Initiative with support from The Prince of Wales. The Cocoa & Forests Initiative joins the governments of Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Colombia,[22] and thirty-five chocolate and cocoa manufacturers such as founding members The Hershey Company,[23] Nestle[24] and Mondelez International.[25] They added to their previous forest replanting efforts and joined the World Cocoa Foundation reporting under this plan. Two cornerstones of this initiative are farm mapping and tree distribution to increase canopy.

While the World Cocoa Foundation reported progress had been made in the first four years of this initiative,[26] environmentalist Mighty Earth reported room for improvement.[27] Said Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth: “Chocolate companies like Nestlé, Hershey’s, Mondelez and Mars need to stop making empty promises and start working together with governments in the CFI to establish an open and effective joint deforestation monitoring mechanism this year”.[28]


  1. ^ "Our Members".
  2. ^ "Vision & Mission". World Cocoa Foundation. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  3. ^ "Ivorian cocoa farmers earn less than $1 a day, finds Barry Callebaut-backed study". 22 February 2017.
  4. ^ "". X (formerly Twitter). Retrieved 2023-11-21. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ Whoriskey, Peter (2020-10-19). "U.S. report: Much of the world's chocolate supply relies on more than 1 million child workers". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  6. ^ "History".
  7. ^ Chocolate Manufacturer Association[dead link]
  8. ^ "Foundation, Partners Pledge $90 Million to Boost Incomes of Small Farmers in Africa".
  9. ^ "Committed Grants | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation".
  10. ^ "Vision & Mission". World Cocoa Foundation. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  11. ^ Pollard, Duncan (2022-01-25). "Cocoa and Poverty: Time for a New Framing". Pildacre Hill. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  12. ^ Pollard, Duncan (2022-01-25). "Cocoa and Poverty: Time for a New Framing". Pildacre Hill. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  13. ^ Horton, Adrian (2023-10-30). "John Oliver on child labor in the chocolate industry: 'It is worse than you may realize'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  14. ^ "ADM Joins World Cocoa Foundation's CocoaAction Sustainability Strategy".
  15. ^ "CocoaAction". 27 August 2018.
  16. ^ CocoaAction Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) (Report). World Cocoa Foundation. 2014. p. 7. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "CocoaAction 2018 Data". World Cocoa Foundation. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  18. ^ "Search Results for "cocoaaction kpmg"". World Cocoa Foundation. 2023-11-21. Retrieved 2023-11-21.
  19. ^ "Exclusive: WCF officially launches 'CocoaAction Brasil' to boost sustainability in country's cocoa sector". 25 October 2018.
  20. ^ Cocoa Sustainability Report 2013/14 (PDF) (Report). Barry Callebaut. 2014. p. 44. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  21. ^ van Grinsven, Peter (March 2016), Cocoa Development Centers Take Off – ECOM becomes first supply chain partner to build CDC in Cote d'Ivoire, retrieved December 3, 2016
  22. ^ "Cocoa & Forests Initiative".
  23. ^ "Hershey increases its cocoa deforestation initiatives by investing in supply chain sustainability | Digital Supply Chain". 17 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Cocoa & Forests Initiative: Nestlé's Initial Action Plan to end deforestation and promote forest restoration and protection in the cocoa supply chain" (PDF). Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  25. ^ "Mondelēz confirms commitment to eliminate deforestation in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire". 6 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Cocoa & Forests Initiative Reports Progress, Aims to Expand Effort". 19 May 2020.
  27. ^ "Major Chocolate Companies Failed In Pledge to End Deforestation, Comprehensive New Study Shows". Mighty Earth. 14 February 2022. Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  28. ^ Earth, Mighty (2022-02-14). "Major Chocolate Companies Failed In Pledge to End Deforestation, Comprehensive New Study Shows". Mighty Earth. Retrieved 2023-11-21.