The Department for International Development (DFID) represents the government of the United Kingdom in the AD Partnership. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also play an active role.
The United Kingdom funds the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) and is a member of the TFA steering committee. The UK also supports action on sustainable commodities and deforestation through the Partnerships for Forests (P4F) programme, among other activities.
The major UK companies using cocoa are members of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative.
The United Kingdom is one of the main chocolate consumers in Europe (third largest) with a preference for milk chocolate (but demand for speciality and dark chocolate is rising). The UK imports cocoa from outside the European Union mainly from West Africa with three major countries (64% combined). Côte d’Ivoire was responsible for 71% of all cocoa beans and 25% of all cocoa butter. The Netherlands was the main provider of cocoa butter with 29%.
In the UK the origin of cocoa has become an important topic leading to high-end chocolate producers to source from known suppliers in producer countries. Certification schemes are important. In 2014, the UK was the largest consumer of Fairtrade cocoa products in the world. Reflecting the UK market interest in certification is Nestlé’s goal to sell 100% sustainable cocoa in the United Kingdom from January 2016 onwards. Nestlé has its own Cocoa Plan for sustainable sourcing, but they use third-party certification (UTZ Certified, Fairtrade). In 2016, Tesco committed to source 100% RainForest Alliance certified cocoa for its own chocolate brands by end 2018. In February 2017, Co-op UK committed to source 100% Fairtrade if a manufacturer used more than 24 MT a year in Co-op product manufacturing. This was followed by a statement from Lidl UK to 100% sustainable cocoa in all its own label products (by March 2017). Cadbury (owned by Mondelez) is cooperating with Fairtrade to certified sourcing by 2019.
In 2012, DEFRA published the UK Statement on Sustainable Production of Palm Oil. The statement drew together new and existing specific commitments on the sourcing of sustainable palm oil made by key organisations representing businesses within the palm oil supply chain in the UK and set out that “the United Kingdom is working towards achieving 100% sourcing of credibly certified sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015.” The UK Roundtable for Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil was established in 2012 (now also part of ESPO) and set a goal of realising 100% certified palm oil for the UK market by 2015. The roundtable includes many companies from different sectors such as the Food & Drink Federation and reached 87 or 108% of UK palm oil imports supported by RSPO certification (difference in % due to differences in the data sources used). Still, it remains to involve all sectors. Another challenge is to include the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). A theory of change is needed that is inclusive and promotes sustainability throughout the supply chain also on behalf of the SMEs. In order to reach such a level of inclusion, all stakeholders in the supply chain have to commit to best, sustainable, practices. At the production side, landscape approaches are considered important to enhance synergy with all sustainability issues.
The UK launched a UK Sustainable Soy Working Group early 2018 and is currently formulating its specific soy commitment. The first step has been the creation of a UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya in response to requests from major UK retailers and food industry associations for government support in convening the industry to address growing concerns about the link between soya and tropical deforestation. The soft commodities consultancy Efeca has been engaged to facilitate these efforts through the UK’s investment in the Partnerships for Forests programme. The Roundtable will provide an important ‘pre-competitive’ forum for companies and industry associations to work together, with the support of Government, towards a sustainable soya supply chain for the UK. This initiative delivers against the Government’s clear existing commitments to support companies to implement zero-deforestation supply chains, as set out most recently in the UK’s 25-Year Environment Plan.