From cocoa to tea, food and drink giants are setting their own standards for ethical sourcing of raw materials, moving away from third-party labels such as Fairtrade. Lucy Fielder reports.
Food and drink giants are turning away from labels like 'Fairtrade' to set their own ethical standards. Unielver, Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest chocolate-maker, and Mondelez International, which owns Cadbury and Toblerone, have all started their own schemes. Critics are crying 'greenwash'. But the companies argue they're better at tracking raw materials through the supply chain than a third party. Mondelez this month started selling Green and Black's chocolate in the UK with its 'Cocoa Life' logo instead of Fairtrade. The 'Cocoa Life' scheme in fact looks pretty ambitious, reports Reuters' Ana Ionova. SOUNDBITE (English) ANA IONOVA, REUTERS COMMODITIES CORRESPONDENT , SAYING : Their goals are to create something that goes beyond Fairtrade. They use the Fairtrade verification system to make sure that it is vetted by a third party and its independent. But they have goals that are more broad. Anything from improving gender equality on farms to preventing climate change and degradation of soil. Still, there are concerns that benchmarks could become watered down. And the proliferation of certification schemes could end up bewildering consumers. SOUNDBITE (English) ANA IONOVA, REUTERS COMMODITIES CORRESPONDENT , SAYING : Once these standards go behind closed doors and there isn't that third-party watchdog keeping things transparent and keeping the accountability there, then the fear is that they will become more flexible with time and there will be no over-arching standard that everyone can really be sure is being met. Consumers are increasingly savvy and demanding. But if too many independent schemes spring up, their watchdogs could have a tricky job keeping track.