Cocoa Sustainability

Championing cocoa sustainability

We are already one of the world’s leading suppliers of sustainable cocoa, but our mission is to go further still.

We work hand-in-hand with partners, customers, governments, NGOs and through joint initiatives to create the necessary conditions for every person whose life revolves around cocoa production to prosper.

Get in touch with our Cocoa team:

This long-term commitment to cocoa sustainability is formalised through the Olam Livelihood Charter (OLC) and supported by the Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS) platform and AtSource programme. Flagship cocoa sustainability projects and initiatives gain OLC status when they address all 8 Principles of interest-free finance, improved yield, labour practices, market access, quality, traceability, social investment and environmental impact. This results in better productivity and returns for farmers and greater sustainability assurances for our customers and partners.

Our operations are transparent and open to independent, third-party auditors such as Intertek and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to verify our OLC programmes, ensure supply chain integrity, and eradicate child labour in accordance with the 8 OLC Principles.

Managed by dedicated sustainability staff, our activities extend to numerous long-term programmes, either Olam Cocoa led, through global joint efforts, or through partnerships in origin with Rainforest Alliance/UTZ, Fairtrade, Fairtrade USA and Organic Soil Association that run in concert with OLC initiatives.

In 2017 our 17 Cocoa OLC programmes reached 48,837 new farmers worldwide, bringing the total number of farmers touched by our cocoa sustainability programmes to 185,000 of which 13% are women

Tackling deforestation

Deforestation in cocoa is an ongoing issue as farmers seek land to increase their crop. As a founding member of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, Olam is committed to halting deforestation in our supply chains globally. We are working to achieve this through farmer programmes in our direct sourcing, and through the Olam Supplier Code and industry partnerships in our indirect supply chains.

+100,000 trained in biodiversity (managing over 215,000 hectares)
+69,000 farmers trained specifically in ‘no burning’ of forests (covering almost 103,000 hectares)

Olam Cocoa sustainability activities around the world are focused on creating impact in the following key areas:

May smallholder cocoa farmers have limited access to affordable finance, impacting how much they can invest in their farms and therefore how much the can grow and earn.


Olam Cocoa supports farmers by providing interest free pre-financing, short-term financing, paying certification premiums above and beyond non-certified pricing and by distributing quality based premiums.

A lack of education can trap cocoa farmers in a cycle of low productivity.


We work to overcome this challenge by focusing on farmer registration and farmer training in Good Agricultural Practices, Good Labour Practices, Integrated Pest Management and Business Capacity training through farmer field schools and demonstration plots for practical, hands-on learning opportunities

Sustainably improving cocoa yields and crop quality benefits all parties.

By providing cocoa farmers access to, and through the distribution of, the best varieties of cocoa seeds and seedlings, and through the construction of solar dryers to support quality standards post-harvest, overall cocoa quality is raised and livelihoods are supported.

Taking sustainable actions to protect the environment in cocoa producing areas relies upon improving the quality of the key data utilised in programme planning.

We are addressing these issues by surveying cocoa farmers and their farms, GPS mapping through the Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS). We also distribute shade trees to increase ground cover and support forest conservation through the Cocoa & Forests Initiative and our Climate-Friendly Cocoa programmes with Rainforest Alliance

In line with our goal of reaching 100% traceable and sustainable cocoa volumes from our direct origination supply chain by 2020, we believe that all cocoa farmers should have the ability to efficiently sell their produce into the global market.

We are focused on increasing market access opportunities for cocoa farmers and farmer groups and ensuring traceability through our unparalleled, year-round farmgate presence and through initiatives like Olam Traceability. 

Our involvement in supporting cocoa producing communities to thrive grows each year.

This includes the establishment of resource centres for farmer training and for storing materials for cocoa cooperatives and nurseries, as well as constructing schools, health centres, maternity units, medical laboratories, water pumps and cooperative stores.

Olam is against all forms of child exploitation and we work actively through a number of programmes to prevent its existence.


We are working to increase farmer incomes, establish Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation Systems in cocoa communities, and provide training specifically on tackling child labour so cocoa farms are able to employ labourers rather than rely on their own families, including children, to work on the farm.

The Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS) is being used extensively by our cocoa business. As of Q2 2018 we have registered more than 120,267 farmers. OFIS provides greater traceability and transparency for our sustainability partners and customers, allowing for direct access to farmer and origination information. 

Tackling child labour

Olam is against all forms of child exploitation and works actively through a number of programmes to prevent it. We will take immediate action should we find any instance of labour law contravention in any part of our business and supply chain. We are absolutely committed to the responsible and sustainable management of our supply chains from seed to shelf.
  • Child labour in cocoa: Why it’s so hard to combat and what we’re doing about it Download [413kb, PDF]
  • Child labour monitoring and remediation in the Scinpa Cooperative Download [226kb, PDF]

What to know more?

Things We Learned This Year

The common ground between cocoa farmers in Ghana and a British ‘would-be’ gardener.

Child Labour in Cocoa: What We’re Doing About It

60% of child labour is in the agricultural sector. That’s a staggering fact made only more concerning when you learn that in West Africa

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